The former midfielder's tactical tweak saw Reece James and Marcos Alonso adopt wing-back roles while Cesar Azpilicueta, Fikayo Tomori and Kurt Zouma made up a back three that fooled Lille, who simply couldn't cope with the Blues' initial width and control when in possession.
Lille benefitted from Chelsea's poor zonal marking to draw level midway through the opening half, but Callum Hudson-Odoi injected life into the visitors from the left wing as the Blues picked up all three points with a 2-1 victory.
Fikayo Tomori's licence to follow left wing-back Alonso when in possession certainly opened up space for Frank Lampard's side, and perplexed Lille in the first half. Willian was another bright spark -- his movement and energy complemented Jorginho and Mason Mount in the middle. Reece James' Champions League debut saw the teenager get thrown into the thick of the action, while fellow teenager Callum Hudson-Odoi also shined.
Lampard's decision to play a back three left his side particularly vulnerable to Lille's ability to counter-attack in the first half. The system was partly worked out at half-time by the hosts, who were backed by a partisan home crowd.
Manager rating (out of 10)
8 -- Chelsea's formation tricked Lille initially. Darting runs from Mason Mount and Willian worked a treat, while Alonso got into sufficient space on the left wing. Lampard's decision to introduce Hudson-Odoi was inspired, as an excellent switch of direction by the youngster fooled his marker to open up the space required to allow a cross to be delivered to Willian. A solid performance from a youthful Chelsea side.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best, players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Kepa Arrizabalaga, 7 -- Didn't lack confidence with the ball at his feet, and if anything, possessed too much of it and nearly got himself into trouble. Excellent first-half save and couldn't do much about the goal. Great vision to read the game and cut out Lille's counter-attacking moves.
DF Cesar Azpilicueta, 7 -- Calm under pressure in defence, and slowed the game down appropriately to create space for the Blues' wing-backs. Experience prevailed at times, particularly against a young Lille side, as he used his knowledge to pick out passes and source dashing runs.
DF Fikayo Tomori, 7 -- Great vision to pick out Abraham for Chelsea's opening goal, was defensively sound and won possession back well. Partly at fault for Lille's goal, as he was caught napping on the edge of the 6-yard box, gifting Victor Osimhen a free header. His licence to move forward complemented wing-back Alonso, but a major blunder at the end of the half almost threw the game away.
DF Kurt Zouma, 6 -- Sloppy in possession at times, and on one occasion, gifted Lille a chance on goal as a result. At fault for the goal as he failed to establish contact with the ball with the towering Osimhen positioned behind.
DF Reece James, 6 -- A poor challenge on Jonathan Ikone earned him a yellow card and he gifted away possession cheaply more than once to ignite the hosts' counter-attacks. Showed his physical side well, though, often to Chelsea's benefit. Certainly didn't disgrace himself before being subbed after 67 minutes.
MF Ngolo Kante, 6 -- Smart decision to bring possession back to Tomori before Chelsea's opener. Perhaps could've supported his defenders better in first half, as they were sometimes short of options when passing out from the back.
DF Marcos Alonso, 6 -- Made a couple of errors under pressure but got into great spaces. His crosses were largely ineffective, although they were accurate. Reasonably quiet second half, but again pushed into space that granted his midfielder's licence to push forward.
MF Jorginho, 6 -- Didn't have a great amount of possession early on and James and Alonso consequently lacked options. Recovered well and ignited the move for the Blues' first goal. Unlucky not to score at the end of the first half when he struck the post.
MF Willian, 8 -- Got into great spaces, and fired in dangerous crosses, although no one was on the end to finish the job. Tracked back defensively, too, while sitting between the hosts' midfield and defence. Quieter start to the second half, but made up for that with an excellent volley to register the Blues' second. Subbed.
MF Mason Mount, 7 -- Consistently made darting overlapping runs to complement Alonso's work on the wing. Had chances to score but squandered those -- often when short of space. Maintained his tempo in the second half, backtracking and linking up with Willian well.
FW Tammy Abraham, 8 -- Fantastic movement to beat Lille's offside trap and open the Blues' account with a smart turn, brilliant finish and change of feet. Always a danger in the box, as his twisting moves often fooled the French side's defence. Unlucky not to turn from goalscorer into provider in second half.
MF Callum Hudson-Odoi, 7 -- Injected a bit of energy on the left, was fresh and certainly not afraid to try his chance from ambitious positions. Rewarded with an assist after wrong-footing his man to pick out Willian in the penalty area.
MF Pedro Rodriguez, N/R -- Came on for the all-action Willian to calm Lille's advances amid their late search for a winner.
MF Mateo Kovacic, N/R -- Came on in the closing minutes for Mason Mount. Nothing major to note.