How does the 2019-2020 season look like for Chelsea Football Club? Will we finish top four? Will we play Champions League football next season? Will the transfer ban lead to a weakened Chelsea side? Is Frank Lampard experienced enough to coach this team to glory and oversee this transition with youth players?
The answer to all these questions is – WHAT SEASON? What top four? What Champions League football? What transfer ban?
The recent COVID-19 pandemic outbreak has caused all football to be cancelled, and it seems like the season may get canceled if the situation doesn’t improve, which means that this season will be like Arsenal’s Champions League trophy – non-existent. If it does, then all that we’ve been discussing, talking about (and even raging and getting absolutely furious about), seems to have been all about nothing. So here, let’s talk about something that’s actually going to happen – the 2020/2021 season.
Where do I begin? Alright, let’s just outline the scenario going into next season. Maurizio Sarri has won us the Europa league and gone to Juventus, and we’ve hired Frank Lampard as the new manager. He’ll get a brand new squad to build on, with tested youth academy products, new signings and some of the deadwood gone. Transfer ban? Never heard of such a thing at Chelsea. We should be looking to cement our Champions League spot and try to give a tough fight to the Champions of England and the runners-up, Manchester City and Liverpool (yes, that’s the correct order. Liverpool champions? Whoever gave you that idea?). Manchester United doing the league double over us under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer? Balderdash. 3-0 loss to Bayern in the Champions League? Never happened either. A front three of Willian, Pedro and Batshayi starting together against Manchester United? That doesn’t sound right.
With the current squad that we’ve got and some new signings coming in, let’s look at how the Chelsea squad may look next season, possible starting XIs’ and what kind of a season we’re potentially looking at.
Chelsea have already wrapped up the signing of Hakim Ziyech, and he may be one of quite a few players coming in this season to improve our squad and take it to the next level. Ziyech is a versatile player with a wand of a left foot, and could occupy either wing position left vacant by the expected departures of Willian and Pedro. He may play there with a relatively free role, cutting in from the right-hand side as a kind of inside forward. Another possibility is that he can feature in an attacking midfield #10 role where we already have Mason Mount, Ross Barkley and Ruben Loftus-Cheek vying for a spot, providing the much-needed creativity in that position that we have been missing. Apart from this, we have also been linked to Jadon Sancho, who would play either LW or RW, and would be a marquee signing who would immediately bolster our attack.
Another position that we seem to be targetting players for is the Left Back position, where Lampard does not seem to trust either Alonso or Emerson enough to play them regularly, even plays Azpilicueta there when solidity is needed. We have been linked to Alex Telles, Ben Chilwell and mildly linked to David Alaba as well. At the moment Telles seems to be the best and most likely alternative, and so we may see at least one of Emerson or Alonso leave to make way for him.
Apart from these positions, we probably will look at getting a striker, where names like Dembele, Lautaro and Jovic may be looked at. However, my expected signing (not preferred) would be Dembele out of the lot. In the Centre Back position, we may see Nathan Ake coming back to his old club. Loftus-Cheek coming back into the squad would almost feel like the new signing in central midfield as well.
What Formation Might We Use?
As I’ve already mentioned earlier, this transition season didn’t exist, but we still know what formations Lampard would’ve preferred if it would have existed and what players would have come in and made enough impact to get included in this team, say, if we had a hypothetical transfer ban.
4-2-3-1 or a 4-3-3
With the new signings coming in, and a stronger team to boot, we may line-up in a 4-2-3-1 or a 4-3-3 in the following ways.
A mix of both creative and direct players in the midfield, two good, strong attack-minded fullbacks and wingers that like to cut inside and let the fullbacks overlap, with a good strikeforce through the middle, we could score plenty of goals with this squad and formation. The quality, depth and bench strength is also very good here.
We also know that Lampard likes to move to the 3-4-3 formation whenever he sees that the side is struggling and needs to be more direct in big games. Although that might be down to the players that we currently have in the squad, here’s a possible lineup for certain games if we use that formation next season at some point.
The starting XI and formations may vary due to form, injuries and other such variables, but this might be the way we set up if we bring in the right set of players. With a lot of competition for spots, better squad depth and quality in depth, in my opinion, this side would be much better at creating and finishing chances (which we may have been crying out about if there had been another season in between with a weaker squad), but the defensive frailties might show up time and again. I do not see this team winning the title, but addressing these areas and removing the deadwood would be the correct approach going forward. With another full season and summer window after the current, if we acquire improvements in other positions, such as a proper Defensive Midfielder, competition in the goalkeeper spots, and solid Centre Backs, then we may be challenging for the title as a top side once again. Also, we shouldn’t forget the fact that there are still more academy talents such as Ethan Ampadu and Connor Gallagher who shall also be adding quality to our squad in the near future. Lampard has shown that he wants the team to work hard, press, win the ball back, create chances higher up the pitch and take them. We’ve shown our attacking flair, but have at times fallen prey to too many changes, injuries, weak mentality and a poor squad, which may improve significantly next season.
The Future Looks Bright
Needless to say, the future certainly looks bright, if we secure our transfer targets and let this rebuild complete, we may once again become a formidable side, and capture the Premier League again, challenging among Europe’s elites. All this, might I mention, without having to go through a season of frustrations with an inexperienced squad and an inexperienced manager. We would not have to rely on other teams dropping points to keep us in the top four. We would not get knocked out of the Champions League in the Round of 16. And we would most certainly not have to go through watching Willian, Alonso, Pedro, Barkley and Batshuayi all start in one lineup. Isn’t that just golden?
P.S. Please don’t get too hung up on the selections made in the starting XIs. It’s the shapes and squad that’s important here, and I’ve just picked players on what I felt could be how we lineup.
Edited by: Dan