Chelsea’s 3-0 win over Burnley on Saturday arrested their rather indifferent home form and gave Chelsea fans a great home performance to cheer for the first time in far too long. The weekend’s win meant that Chelsea had completed the league double over Burnley for the first time since the 2009/10 season and finally beat a side in the lower half of the table at home after defeats to West Ham, Bournemouth and Southampton. But what can Frank and the squad take forward from this to keep improving and to achieve their goals for the season?
Tammy Abraham needs back-up/ competition
This is something that needs to be addressed and quickly, especially now that Chelsea are free to buy and register players in this transfer window. Tammy Abraham has had an excellent start to the season, scoring 15 goals in all competitions so far, including another on Saturday. But he needs support. Michy Batshuayi is not the man to do that. The last game he played against Nottingham Forest was the final nail in the coffin for me. Batshuayi had 3 gilt edged chances and missed all of them, two he put straight into the upper tier of the stands. Any good Premier League striker would have scored at least one of those chances and put the game to bed for Chelsea. Lampard didn’t make any substitutions on Saturday and I just wonder if another striker would have come on and put away one of the two golden chances Abraham missed in the second half.
Olivier Giroud is clearly not in Lampard’s plans and looks to be heading for the exit. For a player that was only ever meant to be a stopgap until a more permanent solution could be found, Giroud has been a great purchase for Chelsea and I only wish him well wherever he goes next. But Abraham cannot carry the burden all on his own. Chelsea were overly reliant last season on Eden Hazard to both create and score goals. His departure left a hole in the squad that hasn’t been filled, partly because Chelsea weren’t able to sign players in the summer. Another quality striker to either back Tammy Abraham up or push him for the spot in the starting lineup is essential for Chelsea to be able to carry a more potent threat in attack.
Ross Barkley still has a role to play at Chelsea
When I saw the lineup on Saturday, my immediate thought was ‘ Oh god, why is Barkley playing?’ Barkley has never hit top form at Chelsea and so has been in and out of the side for almost his entire time at the club. He hadn’t played any competitive football for two months when he lined up against Nottingham Forest on the 5th and he looked like a player that had not played for a long time. His touch was poor, many of his passes failed to come off and his awareness on the ball was negligible. That was almost completely reversed against Burnley. His touch rarely let him down, his passing was on target, he tracked back well, his runs forward were intelligent. It was like watching a different player than the Ross Barkley that Chelsea fans have become accustomed to. If he can begin to perform like that every week, Chelsea may find themselves with another creative outlet without having go into the transfer market.
Reece James is a world beater
A lot has been made of the young talent Chelsea have at their disposal this season and one name is pushing all the way to the top of that list. Reece James may only be 19 but he looks like the finished article. His defensive work on Saturday was impeccable and he carried a genuine threat going forward, creating numerous chances, one of which was converted. He could have had a goal himself if his shot had been hot towards the other corner or along the floor, but his composure on and off the ball, his concentration on the job he was given and the quality of his delivery into the box was brilliant all game. James is quickly making himself indispensible to Chelsea with the quality of performances he is putting in. He’s only made 10 Premier League appearances but he looks like he’s been playing in the top flight for years. His development is only going one way.
Chelsea can play well at home
Chelsea’s form at Stamford Bridge has been rather questionable all season, with draws to Leicester City and Sheffield United and defeats to Liverpool, West Ham, Bournemouth and Southampton. Four of the six sides who have come away from Stamford Bridge with at least a draw in the league are teams that Chelsea should be beating, regardless of their current form. What’s more, the performances in most of those games have been poor. The football has often been slow, ponderous and ineffectual. Great passages of possession with no cutting edge and no end product. We saw how well Chelsea can play at home on Saturday. After a rather cagey opening 25 minutes that saw Burnley have a goal ruled out for offside, Chelsea really grew into the game and took over. Their passing was fluid, quick and incisive. They limited Burnley to almost no chances from open play and only looked susceptible to crosses from out wide which they were able to prevent from coming in. They now need to take this performance as a benchmark for their home form in future and look to replicate whenever they step onto the Stamford Bridge pitch.