Well, the first two games of the Premier League season have been played and Frank Lampard has a single point for his efforts. And while Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester City all have maximum points, I really don’t think Chelsea have a huge amount to worry about. The results haven’t been what was wanted but there has been much to be positive about.
The performances have held a lot of promise for the future, once the team is fully up to speed. Now that may seem a ridiculous thing to say, Chelsea played seven pre-season games. Surely they were up to speed and ready to go. But, as Pat Nevin noted, very few of the players played a full game and even fewer more than once. That may be because Lampard was trying out different systems and players to see what worked well and what needed improvement.
It also hasn’t helped that some players who will be heavily relied upon have been recovering from injury or returned late from international duties. Willian, Antonio Rudiger, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Reece James are all going to have parts to play this season. Rudiger, Loftus-Cheek and Hudson-Odoi all had very good seasons under Sarri and Lampard will look to use their renewed presence to push the squad onward.
Much has been made of the departure of David Luiz. I will say that the only factor I find irritating is that he moved to one of our biggest rivals. His experience will be missed, but from what both he and Lampard have said, he would not have been a first choice pick and it was decided he could move on. It was very clear that Chelsea physically could not compete with Leicester in the second half yesterday and with another week of work on the training pitch will see them more towards where Lampard wants them to be.
The style of play Lampard is going for is evident from the three competitive games we have seen. He clearly wants a high energy press akin to Liverpool, and while that may wield results over time, the players need to become familiar with it. Lampard is also hampered by Chelsea’s transfer ban and so he has not been able to strengthen in key areas. Namely the striker. Chelsea have lacked a striker guaranteed to score 20+ goals a season since Diego Costa was shown the door by Antonio Conte. But the opening 25 minutes against Leicester and the performances if not the results have demonstrated to me at least that once some of the key, influential players return from injury, and if the likes of Mason Mount continue to seize the opportunities that Lampard will give them throughout this season, I see no reason to panic.
The times where Chelsea simply went through seasons sacking managers are over to an extent. Jurgen Klopp was given time and was backed in the transfer market. He didn’t win a trophy as Liverpool manager until last season but every season, we saw a progression until they were serious competitors to Manchester City. So, if Chelsea can’t back Frank Lampard in the transfer market, they should give him time. Patience hasn’t been Chelsea’s virtue since Roman Ambramovich bought the club, but they might benefit if they can learn it now.