At the beginning of the 19/20 season, people were expecting Chelsea to struggle placing in the top eight of the league let only finishing in the UCL spots. So naturally, it would be seen as a massive achievement by the majority of fans, pundits, the player’s grandparents, you name it if Chelsea actually did secure a top 4 spot. So how the f*ck did we reach the point where about 30% of Chelsea Twitter (Courtesy of a poll result) wants Lampard sacked?
At the point of writing Chelsea are in 4th position, three points clear of 5th with nine games to go.
Apparently, a seven game unbeaten streak at the beginning of the season is enough to make people just completely forget about their initial expectations, and therefore creating brand new unrealistic ones in the process. You made your bed with the expectations you set at the season’s start, so now lie in it and stand by them.
To take a look at the context around what I’m saying, I will compare Chelsea’s current situation with the clubs around them (top six + Leicester). Chelsea have three of these teams ahead of them so let’s take a look at the closest one first.
Brendan Rodgers is currently in his second season for Leicester taking over from the dismissed Claude Puel on February 26th 2019. He had to work with a half completed season, a full pre-season and a summer transfer window where they lost star player Harry Maguire to Manchester United.
The loss of Maguire and the failure to replace him in the transfer market effectively removed Leicester from a top six fight for the majority. However, Leicester chose not to replace him and Çağlar Söyüncü was the reason.
Söyüncü – a signing from SC Freiburg in 2018 – has been a rising star this season and I’m positive most would agree that he has been one of the best performing center-backs in the Premier League this season. His partner, Jonny Evans, is a seasoned veteran with three Premier League titles to his name; Kasper Schmeichel is one of the best goalkeepers in the league and it wouldn’t be unreasonable to say Ricardo Pereira and Ben Chilwell are among the best full-back pairings in the league.
The list goes on, Wilfried Ndidi is one of the biggest pure defensive midfield talents in the world and James Maddison is linked with a £100m+ move to one of the “Big Six”.
Finally, Jamie Vardy has been one of the best strikers in the league for the last 5 years. So is it an embarrassment for Chelsea to be behind them?
Next up is Manchester City, the team that just got handed a two year Champions League ban and a 25 million pounds fine for breaching FFP (Financial Fair Play) rules.
Manchester City house arguably the greatest manager of all time in Pep Guardiola, who is in his 4th season in charge.
In terms of players, they have a top class goalkeeper in the name of Ederson – a Champions League winning back-up goalkeeper Claudio Bravo – Aymeric Laporte is a world-class center-back – Benjamin Mendy is the most expensive left-back of all time and likewise Kyle Walker the most expensive right-back – Kevin de Bruyne who without a doubt is the best midfielder in the world right now and Fernandinho has been one of the best defensive midfielders in the Premier League since he joined the club in 2013.
I can keep going on, Rodri, a £70m signing in the summer. João Cancelo, a £40m back-up right-back signing. A further 2 £40m+ center-back signings in Nicolas Otamendi and John Stones. A generational midfielder from their own academy named Phil Foden. The legendary Spaniard David Silva. Raheem Sterling a former PFA young player of the year or Riyad Mahrez, a former PFA Player of the Year. Bernardo Silva, undoubtedly one of the best players in the league and lastly Sergio Agüero, one of the greatest strikers the Premier League has ever seen.
Once again I ask, is it an embarrassment for Chelsea to be behind Manchester City?
Now let’s look at Liverpool. Jürgen Klopp is currently in his 5th season at the club. Alisson is the best goalkeeper in the world let alone the league. Virgil van Dijk is the best center-back in the world. Trent Alexander-Arnold, on form, is the best right-back in the world. Andrew Robertson is arguably the best left-back in the world. Fabinho is a top class defensive midfielder. Jordan Henderson is a world class leader and a leading player of the year contender. Sadio Mané and Mohammed Salah are two of the best goalscoring wingers in the world and Roberto Firmino is one of the best modern strikers in world football.
Four Liverpool players were in the top seven in the Ballon d’Or rankings.
Is it an embarrassment for Chelsea to be beaten by Liverpool?
Before we take a look at the teams behind Chelsea, I want to go over the reality Chelsea is facing to prove how impressive it really is by Frank Lampard to be ahead of his competitors.
To begin with, Lampard himself is in his first season as Chelsea head coach and only in his second ever season in management. It has to be recognised that Chelsea had just lost their only difference-maker in Eden Hazard, and another experienced player in David Luíz departed to club rivals arsenal. All of this happened whilst the club was under a transfer-ban with no opportunity to replace any of them.
This season, Chelsea have had to play with two of the bottom three goalkeepers statistically. In addition, Rüdiger was injured for the first four months of the season, Reece James was injured for the first two months, Emerson missed two months with a hamstring injury and has been frozen out of the squad since, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, one of Chelsea’s biggest difference-makers last season, hasn’t even touched the pitch for the first-team yet due to an achilles injury.
Chelsea’s woes continue, N’Golo Kanté, Chelsea’s only ‘superstar’ has been barely available at all and when he has been, he’s been hampered by his physical conditions because of constant injuries. Callum Hudson-Odoi, who was supposed to have his major breakthrough this season hasn’t been able to catch a break due to the fact he spent the first two months on the sidelines because of an achilles injury and has had five, yes FIVE, set-backs since returning to the team making it impossible for him to even get close to his sparkling best. The man who was supposed to ease the loss of Eden Hazard, Christian Pulisic, took three months to settle in the league and since then he has spent over two months on the sidelines with an adductor injury leaving Chelsea with only Willian and Pedro as their only fit wingers.
The difference-makers in attack from the early stages of this season have been Tammy Abraham and Mason Mount and even they’ve been playing the majority of the season with knocks because of a lack of other options in their respective positions.
Excluding the injuries, the rest of the Chelsea squad isn’t particularly strong or experienced. Fikayo Tomori has spent his last three seasons in the Championship. Andreas Christensen has failed to impress for the last two seasons although he has looked a lot better the past couple of months. Kurt Zouma spent the last two seasons on loan with a relegation-bound Stoke side and an underperforming Everton team. Ever reliable Cesar Azpilicueta is a center-back made attacking right-back, something that was never going to be a success-story. Marcos Alonso is… well, Marcos Alonso. Jorginho is a bad fit for Frank Lampard’s playing style. Ross Barkley is wildly inconsistent. Pedro has massively declined and Willian, the man who is supposed to carry us in attack, has never scored more than eight Premier League goals in a full season.
The reality is that Lampard, with no given time, in his second ever season in management, having lost the club’s best player without the opportunity to bring in a single one of his preferred players, is suddenly expected to finish higher than fourth, rolling over everyone in his path. Do you realise how stupid that sounds?
I now want to take a similar look at the teams Chelsea are currently ahead starting with Manchester United.
Solskjær is in his 2nd season at the club. Spent £150m in the summer transfer window, breaking the world record for a center-back in the process. He also spent £45m on one of the most promising right-backs in world football and then in January this year spent a further £70m on Bruno Fernandes, who is definitely on his way to become a world-class player. David de Gea was undeniably the best goalkeeper in the world just two years ago. Marcus Rashford is one of England’s brightest young players and Anthony Martial is a £60m signing.
Tottenham began the season with one of the best managers in the world in Maurico Pochettino, who started his sixth season at the club. They proceeded to buy two £60 million midfielders in Tanguy N’Dombele and Giovani Lo Celso and another one of England’s brightest prospects Ryan Sessegnon.
When they sacked Pochettino they brought in former Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho to replace him. Mourinho needs no introduction, he is a three-time premier League winner and boasts numerous other European achievements.
Hugo Lloris is the captain of world champions France and is one of the best goalkeepers in the world. Jan Verthongen and Toby Alderweireld have been well known as one of the best center-back pairings in the world for the past few seasons. Harry Kane could quite possibly be the best striker in the world and Heung-Min Son is a top level Premier League proven player.
Arsenal started the season with Unai Emery going into his second season at the club. They signed one of the most attractive players of the summer window, Nicolas Pépé, for £72m. They added experience in the shape of David Luíz and signed one of Real Madrid’s most promising players Dani Ceballos on a season-long loan. On top of that they already possessed two world class strikers in Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette.
In conclusion, Lampard is doing a fantastic job with this Chelsea side. You could argue and almost expect that every single one of the seven sides I mentioned, should be doing better than Chelsea by quite a distance. Yet only three of them are. This is a testament to Lampard. Give him a couple of transfer windows where he can sign the players he wants instead of being forced to use the left-overs of previous managers. Give the young players the time to develop the experience and mentality needed to continuously succeed at Premier League level and this Chelsea side will be dominating for a decade.
A few people have said that Lampard should be able to do better because Antonio Conte did so in his first season at the club. For fun, I will compare the squads.
Let’s use the starting line-up from the last Premier League match (Bournemouth away) since they were using an exact similar formation to that of Antonio Conte’s Chelsea.
Conte’s team possessed one of the best goalkeepers in the world. Lampard’s team possesses the worst goalkeeper, statistically, in the Premier League, this season.
Conte’s team possessed experience and fight in the back-line, two of which were Champions League winners. Lampard has a declined Azpilicueta as his leader next to two youngsters still learning.
Wing-back is the only area of the pitch where Frank Lampard’s Chelsea beats Antonio Conte’s Chelsea as Marcos Alonso is performing at about the same level and Reece James is an upgrade on Victor Moses.
In midfield Conte had physicality and grit out of this world with a prime, physically fit, N’Golo Kanté partnered with either Nemanja Matic or the creativity and vast winning experience of Cesc Fabregas, one of the best midfielders the Premier League has ever seen. Lampard only has Kovačiç on the same level as these players while Jorginho, who granted looks worse because of the system, offers no physicality nor creativity on the same level of Matic or Fabregas. Even if he wanted to use Kanté, his fitness levels would have made him look a shadow of his 2016/17 self as he has done all season with the exception of the odd game.
The difference in attack is absolutely horrifying for any Chelsea-fan. While Conte possessed one of the best front-threes the Premier League has ever seen consisting of prime Eden Hazard, arguably a top three player in the world, prime Pedro and prime Diego Costa who was the best striker in the world on his day and a nightmare for any defender he was up against, Lampard possesses a declined Pedro, a 21-year old Mason Mount being played out of position and a 33 year old Olivier Giroud. Not to mention the vast experience Conte already had in comparison to a fresh Lampard.
The next time anyone compares this Chelsea team to the team Conte had and expect similar results, I will give you a smack. For the video game lovers out there, the Conte team was like playing on world-class difficulty. The Lampard team is like playing on kid mode, literally.