After a period coached by Italian managers Antonio Conte and Maurizio Sarri, both of markedly different styles, Chelsea opted to take a radical turn in its philosophy as a club and gave one of their legends, Frank Lampard, the opportunity to take the helm of the Blues after a short but positive time at Derby County.
In his first season, which was the 2019-20 one, Frank Lampard found it necessary to work with players who already had a contract with Chelsea due to a sanction for youth transfers and this opened the possibility to players such as Mason Mount, Tammy Abraham or Fikayo Tomori who performed at a very good level.
This season, though, Chelsea was the football team which spent the most in Europe during the summer transfer window, totalling 247 million euros in signings. Chelsea brought onboard players of the caliber of Timo Werner, Kai Havertz or Ben Chilwell, with a clear intention of renewing the club’s players with young footballers but already experienced. As of today, Chelsea is in a difficult situation due to the fact that they are in 9th place in the English Premier League. In the last month, they have faced a bad losing-streak that led them to sink in the standings after navigating in the top positions at the beginning of the English Premier League.
From a tactical point of view, Lampard proposes a 4-3-3 with Mendy as his goalkeeper that although it has been an improvement to Kepa, still has large margins of improvement especially when it comes to use its feet. The Blues’ defensive wall is ideally composed of Reece James, Thiago Silva, Zouma and Chilwell whenever they are all available. When it comes to the defensive midfielder position, N’Golo Kanté is the only ball-winner behind Mason Mount and Mateo Kovacic, although in the Croatian’s position they have also used Kai Havertz.
One of the most controversial points is related to the roles of wingers where Lampard seems a bit confused. Christian Pulisic, Kai Havertz, Hakim Ziyech and Timo Werner have all played in these roles during this season without providing outstanding performances. The point seems that the Chelsea manager has not given them enough time to digest the game-play and football mechanism as wingers which notoriously takes longer than other roles.
In addition Timo Werner’s position has varied way too much during the season and this could be one of the reasons why the player has under-performed so far. Deploying Werner as a winger and striker does not maximize his football skills. Timo Werner is second striker with a classic number nine next to him to support him and allow his movements towards the box. Something similar to what he did at RB Leipzig with excellent results. Recently, the striker position has been disputed by Tammy Abraham and Olivier Giroud who take advantage of their size to provide hold-up play and opening spaces for Werner. We frankly see this as a valid and much more harmonic option provided that Werner and Giroud are given enough time to perfect the teamwork.
Although the 4-3-3 has not been modified, Frank Lampard is getting to know his new players and detecting errors during the games. To this we must add that several of these new players come from other leagues and adaptation to English football is not usually easy. Most of footballers stated that it takes a season to re-adapt from one league to another one.
In an old interview of Fabio Capello few years ago, when he was the manager of Juventus, the Italian coach was under fire for always deploying the same XI in every match at the beginning of the season. The answer of Capello was that his main object was to consolidate the teamwork amongst those starting XI players. He was right: by December the gameplay of Juventus was solid and slowly new players were inserted with excellent results. Going back to Chelsea, it seems that Frank Lampard has the limit of not giving enough time to his players and the team looks like a continuous experiment severely affecting the result on the pitch.