Chelsea will be spearheaded into UCL football this season by new coach and former midfield maestro Frank Lampard. And, as a former midfielder who also happens to be one of the greatest to ever play, “Super Frank” will (eventually) find how to make best use of the midfield options available. Of course, he’ll have his hands full this season with the injuries to Callum Hudson- Odoi, Reece James & Ruben Loftus-Cheek as well as the departure of Eden Hazard all while competing in the UCL, the League, and the Cups.
Many have said that a strong midfield that controls the pitch is key to winning matches. In this article I’ll investigate how well equipped Chelsea are to compete with other midfields in Europe, who should play the most, and who needs to be binned.
The first midfielder on the team sheet regardless of whoever else is fit, Kante brings pace, charisma, defending, leadership, and transition. Last season Kante proved to be effective under Maurizio Sarri playing further forward despite his skill set having naturally been just a defensive midfielder. Kante, now developed into more of a box-to-box midfielder, will likely resume his role at a higher central midfield position than he was used to and may not return back to defensive midfield until Frank Lampard decides to use a double pivot in midfield, where Kante was at his strongest alongside Paul Pogba and Danny Drinkwater, respectively. He’ll play his usual dose of minutes this season regardless.
The most polarizing player on this list, Jorginho will see most if not all of his time this season at the base of the midfield. However he will face competition from Mateo Kovacic and possibly N’Golo Kante at that position. Jorginho is great for controlling tempo but isn’t the greatest at driving possession and progressing attacks. Instead, he relies on his brain and passing range to get himself where he needs to be and lacks the natural athleticism and defending to heavily contribute in other roles. However, Jorginho’s effort did not go unnoticed last season and that same effort often found him tracking back and coming forward to motivate the team and cover for our often-shambolic defending. Expect Jorginho to play at least 75% of the games this season (at the base of the midfield).
Chelsea’s loan summer signing wasn’t made permanent for nothing. Kovacic played everywhere for the Blues last season and I predict he will do the same until Frank finds a comfortable position for him to play on. Mateo will challenge Kante and Jorginho for their positions on the pitch and will likely be tasked with keeping Mason Mount on the bench until he is ready to usurp a regular role. Kovacic will consume a lot of minutes this season, but it’s not clear whether that will be as a substitute or varying midfield positions.
Yes, you read that correctly. Tiemoue Bakayoko. Not Mount, not Loftus-Cheek, but Bakayoko. Far and few Chelsea fans forget his standout performance in the loss to Watford, but I’m afraid every dog has their day. Bakayoko was never meant to fit the faux Sarriball Chelsea deployed last season, and instead was sent to Milan where he flourished under coach Gennaro Gattuso despite clashing on multiple occasions. Bakayoko effectively became a midfield destroyer, much like he was at Monaco before signing up at Chelsea. And with the club thin with options for true defensive midfielders, there’s a possibility that he will stay in Chelsea Blue this season. Bakayoko will earn the majority of his minutes this season coming on to defend leads and starting cup games. I would also like to include a friendly reminder to readers who are Chelsea fans to support the player. I don’t reckon Bakayoko will improve with a field of people calling him a donkey. Cheers.
Players who did not make it into this article aren’t in it for a reason. Their situations are status quo at this given time and thus there is not much to say in regards to them. Small comments will be made on them below.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek is injured and will take some time after becoming fit to resume playing regular football.
Billy Gilmour & Conor Gallagher may or may not stay at the club this season. A loan for regular playing time akin to Ethan Ampadu’s would be more beneficial, despite Gilmour’s standout preseason form.
Danny Drinkwater will be edged out by the younger, better, and higher potential player in Tiemoue Bakayoko. He’ll be binned as Chelsea look to recover any value they can from the preposterous fee they paid for him to begin with.
Marco van Ginkel has been injured and in physiotherapy for a while. Once promising, I’d like to see Lampard give him one last go at the age of 26 before he’s sold.
Ross Barkley, Mason Mount, Kasey Palmer, & Danilo Pantic
Barkley will probably play in the same way he did last year, but here’s to hoping Lampard can unlock some of Ross’ serious potential. Ross can make a serious claim to the #10 spot should he continue the form he’s on this pre season. Mount should really only appear in cup games this season and fill in as a sub as needed barring an injury to someone else. Palmer and Pantic frankly should be binned as there’s no proper place for them in this squad. Sadly their time as Blues is up.
London is Blue.