Chelsea has of late been fond of emulating the top sides in the league, from Maurizio following Pep’s lead to Lampard simulating Klopp’s plan. This Chelsea team is far from Liverpool’s level, but what are the similarities?
Prior to Chelsea’s win over Liverpool, Lampard said: “Behind what we see now at Liverpool, a team that won so many games on the bounce, has been a lot of sweat and hard work from everyone involved, which is what I’m trying to do here.”
Chelsea recently knocked Liverpool out of the historic FA cup in this season’s third clash between Lampard and Klopp. Each of the previous two matches witnessed a marginally thin win favouring Liverpool. Both teams were effective and failed to break the other down, which could go down to the teams playing a similar pattern.
There are two central principles that draw resemblances between Chelsea and Liverpool: the philosophy and the choice of transfer. Liverpool’s success lies on these foundational principles, and Lampard wants his team to be rooted in the same. Lampard also stated: “There is a plan that seems to run through the club, which we’ll try to do here as well. . . . they’ve signed fantastic players at the right times.”
The first resemblance can be seen in Chelsea’s philosophy. Lampard wants players to chase the ball relentlessly and instructs fullbacks to overlap in attack, both of which have been a blueprint for Liverpool. After losing the ball, the team immediately attempts to win back possession, rather than falling back to regroup.
Both managers incorporate different tactical ideas into their teams. One would prefer a false nine, while the other looks for a “target man.” One would demand goal contributions from his three midfielders, while the other prioritizes “work rate.” Yet, regardless of their differing tactical setups, they both believe in possession-based football, high pressing and effective midfield organisation.
Chelsea’s failure to sign a player in the winter window – despite CAS reducing the imposed FIFA transfer ban to one window – wasn’t due to unavailability of players, but was part of Lampard’s safeguard to avoid wrong signings. One thing Lampard stressed recurrently during the window was, “I’ll not make signings for the sake of it.” Similarly, Liverpool made smart signings by bringing in players who weren’t “the most talked about,” yet who matched Klopp philosophically.
Lampard continued: “Alongside that, they’ve signed fantastic players at the right times. The ones that feel pivotal are Virgil van Dijk and Alisson, players at big levels that absolutely improved their team. It’s a great knack they have of finding the right player at the right time that fits the way they want to play and keeps them moving forward so it’s a great model in those terms.”
Chelsea’s recent signing of Ziyech is a testament to the fact that Lampard did his assignments. Lampard previewed Ziyech’s abilities during a press conference, explicating that Ziyech ticks a lot of boxes in his setup like chance creation and goal scoring etc. Goodbye to the old days when Chelsea signed players merely because it’s named “transfer window.”
Now, Chelsea is emulating the current world champion who had their plan mapped out five years ago – the amount of patience needed is immeasurable. There must be consistency with the plan for at least two years before we expect more silverware, and that includes consistency at training, identifying players and adapting them to the plan. Lastly, there must be consistency of doing the right business in every window.