How will Chelsea line up this season?
Roman Abramovich’s Chelsea have been sending shockwaves in the transfer market with the signings of winger Hakim Ziyech from Ajax for 34 million pounds, striker Timo Werner from RB Leipzig for 48 million pounds, left back Ben Chilwell from Leicester City for 50 million pounds and midfielder Kai Havertz from Bayer Leverkusen for 76 million pounds (which could rise to 89 million pounds depending on add-ons).
The Blues have also signed centre backs Thiago Silva and Malang Sarr on free transfers. The spending spree is unlikely to stop there with reports of a 21 million pound deal for Rennes goalkeeper Edouard Mendy all but done. That’s well over 200 million pounds spent already and around 35 million on the way. Such spending comes with its own risks and lofty ambitions.
Frank Lampard took over Chelsea in 2019 when they had a transfer ban. The former midfielder and club legend gave Chelsea’s youngsters a chance and was rewarded with a Champions League spot after finishing 4th last season. Unfortunately, they lost to London rivals Arsenal in the FA Cup final.
If 4th spot was an achievement last season, it would be the bare minimum this season, most likely along with a trophy. Lampard used an attacking 4-3-3 formation last season. He can stick to it or change to a 4-2-3-1 for better defensive solidity.
Possible first 11
- Edouard Mendy
- César Azpilicueta
- Antonio Rudiger
- Thiago Silva
- Ben Chilwell
- N’golo Kante
- Kai Havertz
- Mateo Kovacic
- Hakim Ziyech
- Timo Werner
- Christian Pulisic
Kepa Arrizabalaga has reportedly become a 72 million pound flop at Chelsea after a disastrous second season. The most expensive goalkeeper in the world wants to fight for his place. But if Edouard Mendy signs a deal, Chelsea will be looking to offload Kepa for a cut price or at least loan him out. Willy Caballero will be the second choice keeper.
Thiago Silva will be the undisputed starter at centre back in all important games. Lampard will be wise to adequately rest the Brazilian considering that he is 36-years-old now. Antonio Rudiger is likely to partner him ahead of Andreas Christensen and Kurt Zouma. Both Fikayo Tomori and Malang Sarr are likely to be loaned out to gain more first team experience.
Azpilicueta will be the first choice right back ahead of Reece James. Chilwell will be on the left with Marcos Alonso and Emerson battling for the substitute spot. It is reported that either or both could leave Chelsea during this transfer window.
Kante will return to his natural defensive midfielder role with Kovacic on the left and Havertz on the right. Billy Gilmour, Ross Barkley and Jorginho will compete to be on the bench. One of them could leave and it is likely to be Jorginho.
Timo Werner will be the centre forward flanked by Ziyech on the right and Pulisic on the left. Tammy Abraham and Olivier Giroud will compete for a spot on the substitute bench along with Callum Hudson-Odoi and Ruben Loftus-Cheek. Mason Mount will be the first name among the substitutes as he can play as a winger or as an advanced central midfielder.
Though Financial Fair Play regulations have been postponed for 2020 and will be looked at alongside financial year 2021, Chelsea needs to balance their budget. They will be open to selling and loaning out a number of players to recoup some of the cash and reduce the wage bill.
Pedro and Willian have already left as free agents. Chelsea has a long list of players out on loan and they will sell a number of them before the transfer window closes on October 5. Davide Zappacosta, Danny Drinkwater, Tiémoué Bakayoko and Victor Moses could leave the club as none of them seem to feature in Lampard’s plans. They are also far below on the pecking order in their respective positions.
Chelsea have already loaned out Michy Batshuayi, Ethan Ampadu and Kenedy among others for the season. Many more will follow suit.
Chelsea must challenge title favourites Liverpool and Manchester City all the way. They need a strong show in the Champions League too. Chelsea also needs to fend off the likes of Manchester United, Arsenal and Tottenham among others. League Cup and FA Cup will be for the substitutes to shine.
Defense has been Chelsea’s Achilles heel and the goalkeeping situation has not helped. Thiago Silva may be a short term solution but is a very good one. With so much attacking potential, Chelsea could have a bigger margin for error than last season. But Lampard is unlikely to take that for granted as expectations are higher than ever.
With the kind of money Chelsea has spent on players and Abramovich’s lack of patience, Lampard must be under tremendous pressure to win one or two trophies this season. On the positive side, Lampard could build a new dynasty at the club where he is already a legend as a player.
Lampard has influenced some of Chelsea’s new signings as a fantastic player, club Legend and coach. Now he needs to replicate the same in terms of results. With so much talent, the likes of Mauricio Pochettino and Massimiliano Allegri will be eager to take over the reins should Chelsea’s all time top scorer fail to get them firing on all cylinders.