Welcome back everyone. In the last two parts, we analysed what Lampard would need in defence and midfield for next season, but in this article we’ll move further up the pitch into the attacking positions. As said previously, Lampard wants his style of play to be similar to the one at Derby: a 4-3-3 formation. But now that we’re talking about the attack, his style requires two inside forwards and a lone striker.
So which players should the Blues manager use or sign for next season in attack?
I’ll be going over which players have the ability to play in Lampard’s attack while comparing them with our transfer targets.
CAN ZIYECH OFFER WHAT IS ASKED OF HIM AT RW?
With Hakim Ziyech set to join the Blues in the summer, following a £38m transfer fee agreement with AFC Ajax in February 2020, it’s clear that he’ll be used as a winger next season; but the question is: can he deliver?
Hakim Ziyech was born in Dronten, Netherlands in 1993 to a Dutch father and a Moroccan mother. He started his youth footballing career when he joined Reaal Dronten’s Youth Academy in 2001, but two years later tragedy struck when his father passed away in 2003, affecting his school life. Despite joining ASV Dronten’s Youth Academy in 2004 and Heerenveen’s youth academy in 2007, he got himself into trouble by behaving badly towards his teammates and coaches. With the help of his mother and Aziz Doufikar, the first Moroccan player to play in Holland and whose son is a friend of Ziyech, he began to adjust to life without his father. By January 2012, he was ready to play for Heerenveen’s First Team squad, and he hasn’t looked back since. He was gradually introduced into the matches, and while there were some concerns about whether he could handle the physicality due to his wiry frame, the use of his other qualities and his ability to remove distractions from his head saw the manager’s (Marco Van Basten) trust grow in him. In the summer of 2014, he joined FC Twente for £3.2m, as they were looking for someone who could orchestrate the attack following Dušan Tadić’s departure to Southampton. Ziyech cemented himself as a match winner in his three seasons with Enschede, and his leadership qualities were on display too. His honesty with his teammates and the media was noticeable, but he doesn’t forget quickly when the media say something false about him. After being given the captain’s armband at the start of the 2015/16 campaign, he got himself into a bother five months later by criticising the club’s ambition for sacking Alfred Schreuder and handing in a transfer request (which led to the club stripping his captaincy). Ziyech then joined AFC Ajax for £9.9m in the summer of 2016 and had to adapt his game to their moto by improving his stamina (from running 7km per game to 12km per game) and physicality drastically. In his third season, despite the pundits heaping praise upon Matthijs De Ligt and Frenkie De Jong, Ziyech’s creativity was very influential in guiding the Godenzonen to the Champions League Semi-Finals under Erik Ten Haag. It was also in the 2018/19 season that Ziyech won his first pieces of club silverware (the Eredivisie and the KNVB Cup), as well as the 2019 Johan Cruyff Shield a couple of months later. He also won 16 individual awards, all but one during his time at Ajax.
Tactically Ziyech is a left-footed player who is known for being a leader, a dangerous playmaker and versatile (he can play at central attacking midfield and right-wing). At Ajax, the Moroccan has completed 40 goals and 52 assists in 116 Eredivisie appearances, with his best contribution coming in the 2018/19 season (21 goals and 24 assists in 49 games, all competitions). However, because the Eredivisie is a league that Ajax have easily dominated, I’ll be basing the rest of my stats on the Magician’s last two seasons in the Champions League (qualifiers are not included), as it will give us a better idea of how he’s performed against big opponents. Instead of getting beyond the striker, the 27-year-old likes to drop deep and influence the play (43.3 average passes per game at a 75.6% accuracy last season, 48 at a 76% accuracy this season; 3.5/5.4 accurate long balls per game last season, 2.5/4.6 this season; 2.5/6.6 accurate chipped passes per game last season, 0.5/1.3 this season), something you would have seen in Phillipe Coutinho at Liverpool. At times he will drive at opponents and take them on himself (per game, 2.8/5.6 successful dribbles last season and 2.2/3.4 this season), but he’ll also cut inside instead of crossing the ball into the box (per game, 0.9/4.7 crosses completed last season and 1.2/6.3 this season). He also likes to create opportunities for himself or his teammates (3 goals and 3 assists last season, 2 goals and 4 assists this season; 5.1 shots per game and 2.3 key passes last season, 3.2 shots and 2.5 key passes this season), but most of his goals come from arriving late into the box. Having played 985 minutes last season and 499 minutes this season, Ziyech scored a goal every 328 minutes (or 3.64 games) last season and every 250 minutes (or 2.78 games) this season, as well as made an assist every 328 minutes (or 3.64 games) last season and every 125 minutes (or 1.39 games) this season. While goals and assists are important, expected goals (xG) and assists (xA) can help provide a more solid foundation to see if a player is overperforming or underperforming (4.2 xG and 2.6 xA last season, 1.0 xG and 2.1 xA this season; meaning per 90mins, 0.39 xG and 0.24 xA last season, 0.18 xG and 0.37 xA this season), even if it excludes decision making and pure technical quality. To summarise, despite outperforming his expected assists, it’s clear that Hakim Ziyech is not a modern winger, but rather a direct replacement for Willian: he won’t be a goalscoring threat for the Blues, he’s not going to lead the line and he’s not comfortable playing as a centre-forward. However, Ziyech is more creative than Willian and, instead of being a pure winger, he cuts inside from the wings (allowing the right-back to overlap). There is doubt about whether the player can deal with tighter spaces, but he’s all about proving his doubters wrong and he’s performed on the biggest stage, so expect good things to come next season.
Next up, we’ll be shifting our focus to the left-wing and focusing on our remaining wingers.
CAN PULISIC OR HUDSON-ODOI OFFER A GOALSCORING THREAT AT LW?
Most people associate strikers with the term “goalscoring threat,” but heavily relying on a striker to score goals is a recipe for disaster. The reasons for that are simple: say the striker is the only man you rely on to score goals… what happens if he gets injured? What happens if he’s suspended? What happens if he’s on a poor run of form? You need someone else to take charge, right? Well, guess what: you don’t have any options, and so your goals will come from random circumstances by random players, making it difficult to compete for trophies.
Now, you might say that it’s a bit harsh on the backup striker, and that’s fair enough. But not many teams have a goalscoring striker who plays as a backup, meaning that his output won’t be as good as the main striker. So, when there’s an issue with the striker, you need to rely on other players on the pitch to score the goals. That’s where the goalscoring winger comes in.
With Willian and Pedro set to leave in the summer, it’s best to talk about the “goalscoring winger” project in relation to the remaining two wingers.
Let’s start off with Callum Hudson-Odoi. Born in the London Borough of Wandsworth, United Kingdom in 2000 to Ghanaian parents, his father was a former Ghanaian midfielder, which drove Callum to pursue the sport. This paid dividends following a successful trial with Chelsea’s Youth Academy in 2007. In his teenage years, he would try to master football tricks and the speed of his legs, a style you see a lot in modern-day wingers to improve ball control and take-ons. He made his debut for the under-18s in August 2016, and in that 2016/17 season he won the U18 Premier League and the FA Youth Cup. In the summer of 2017, he took part in England’s under-17 World Cup squad that won the trophy. He was also promoted to the under-23s, but still featured for the under-18s in the FA Youth Cup and the U18 Premier League Final Stage (both of which we won silverware for). By December he started to feature in a few games for the First Team, and after an impressive 2018/19 pre-season he remained with the First Team squad. Under Maurizio Sarri, he was a rotation option and had to compete with Eden Hazard, Willian and Pedro; but he was given game time in the Europa League. In January 2019 there was interest from Bayern Munich, with the Bavarian club tabling bids for the youngster and reportedly reaching a contract agreement with the player’s agent. Hudson-Odoi was interested due to his lack of playing time and even tabled a transfer request, but in the end, Sarri said he was staying at the club. In April 2019, after playing in 4 consecutive Premier League matches, he suffered an Achilles tendon rupture against Burnley, forcing him out for almost five months. After playing a couple of games with the under-21s to regain his fitness, he started to play regularly with the First-Team. He suffered a knock during the November International Break, and a hamstring injury during the Winter Break in February 2020, but he’s expected to return for Project Restart.
Hudson-Odoi is another two-footed, pacey player who’s quite versatile in the attacking midfield positions (he can play at left-wing, right-wing and central attacking midfield). The 19-year-old has a decent passing range (22.5 average passes per game at an 85.1% accuracy in the EPL, 15 at an 81.7% accuracy in the UCL; 1.6/1.9 accurate long balls per game in the EPL, 1.8/1.8 in the UCL; 0.4/1.1 accurate chipped passes per game in the EPL, 0.5/1.3 in the UCL) and uses his flair and highly skilful play to take on opponents (per game, 1.5/2.7 successful dribbles in the EPL and 1.8/2.3 in the UCL). Just like Pulisic, the English winger prefers to cut inside instead of crossing (per game, 0.9/3.3 crosses completed in the EPL and 1.5/2.5 in the UCL), but he’s definitely been more accurate at crossing than the American winger. And that with his offensive contributions (1 goal and 4 assists in the EPL, 0 goals and 1 assist in the UCL; 1.2 shots per game and 1.1 key passes in the EPL, 1.8 shots and 1.5 key passes in the UCL), it’s clear that Lampard wants him to go wide and cross instead of cutting in and shoot. Having played 770 minutes in the EPL and 172 minutes in the UCL, he’s scored a goal during his 770 minutes (or 8.56 games) in the EPL, but no goal during his 172 minutes (or 1.91 games) in the UCL. He has made an assist every 193 minutes (or 2.14 games) in the EPL and during his 172 minutes (or 1.91 games) in the UCL. His expected goals and assists (2.0 xG and 2.3 xA in the EPL, 0.3 xG and 0.4 xA in the UCL; meaning per 90mins, 0.23 xG and 0.27 xA in the EPL, 0.17 xG and 0.22 xA in the UCL) show that he’s outperforming in terms of assists, but underperforming in terms of goals. It’s clear that Hudson-Odoi won’t offer a goalscoring threat.
Then there’s Christian Pulisic. Born in Hershey, Pennsylvania to American parents, his father (Mark) and mother (Kelley) played college football (or soccer for Americans) at George Mason University, Virginia. Based of that, even friends of his parents knew he would become a football player. In 2005, Christian’s mother was given a one-year teaching exchange program in England, during which the whole family moved to Tackley and he joined Brackley Town’s Youth Academy. Once the program ended, they returned to the USA and stayed for a year in Michigan, where he played for Michigan Rush’s Youth Academy. In 2007, he returned to his birth-town and was enrolled into PA Classics, a US “Soccer” Development Academy team. In February 2015, Borussia Dortmund’s Youth Academy came calling, and he signed on a free transfer for the under-17s, before progressing to the under-19s a few months later. During the 2015/16 season’s winter break Pulisic was called to the first-team. This impressive progression showed that the then 17-year-old had a lot of talent. He became a breakout star for the club, but 18 months after Pulisic joined the First Team there was a new kid arriving on the block: Jadon Sancho, who joined from Manchester City for £7.1m in August 2017. By the start of the 2018/19 season, it was clear that both Sancho and Pulisic would be competitors, and you only saw them start alongside each other four times (all of which were in the second half of the season). During the winter break, he agreed to join Chelsea for £57.6m in January 2019, but would stay on loan at Dortmund for the remainder of the season.
Tactically, Pulisic is a two-footed, pacey player who’s quite versatile in the attacking midfield positions (he can play at left-wing, right-wing and central attacking midfield). The 21-year-old has a decent passing range (26.9 average passes per game at an 80.2% accuracy in the EPL, 23.8 at a 75.8% accuracy in the UCL; 0.6/1.3 accurate long balls per game in the EPL, 0.8/0.8 in the UCL; 0.4/1.1 accurate chipped passes per game in the EPL, 0.5/1.3 in the UCL), but it’s his ability and desire to take on opposing players that makes him stand out (per game, 2.4/4.2 successful dribbles in the EPL and 3.5/5.7 in the UCL). The American winger also prefers to cut inside instead of crossing (per game, 0.1/1.3 crosses completed in the EPL and 0.3/2.1 in the UCL) and likes to be a goalscorer for the team (5 goals and 2 assists in the EPL, 1 goal and 1 assist in the UCL; 2.5 shots per game and 1.2 key passes in the EPL, 1.8 shots and 2.0 key passes in the UCL), whereas Ziyech prefers to provide goals for his teammates. Having played 1076 minutes in the EPL and 266 minutes in the UCL, this means he’s scored a goal every 215 minutes (or 2.39 games) in the EPL and during his 266 minutes (or 2.96 games) in the UCL, as well as made an assist every 538 minutes (or 5.98 games) in the EPL and during 266 his minutes (or 2.96 games) in the UCL. His expected goals and assists (5.2 xG and 2.1 xA in the EPL, 0.9 xG and 1.4 xA in the UCL; meaning per 90mins, 0.43 xG and 0.17 xA in the EPL, 0.31 xG and 0.47 xA in the UCL) show that he’s averaging the mark of what’s expected on him, but isn’t outperforming them if he wants to be a goalscoring threat.
Therefore, it’s clear that both Christian Pulisic and Callum Hudson-Odoi aren’t ready to be goalscoring threats for the Blues. In the next part, we’ll attempt to identify who Chelsea should sign to offer that goalscoring threat.
SHOULD CHELSEA SIGN A 4TH WINGER?
Chelsea need at least one goalscoring winger. New signing Hakim Ziyech won’t offer that. Christian Pulisic and Hudson-Odoi aren’t at that level yet, and it might take a couple of years. So based only on these players, Chelsea will need a 4th winger.
Given that my colleagues have already done scouting reports on what I believe to be Chelsea transfer targets suited to the left-wing or right-wing positions, I think it would be a better idea to link their articles:
However, despite being linked with these players over the past few weeks, I believe we won’t sign any of them. Why? Because I believe Chelsea are about to sign a goalscoring winger. Who? I’ll give you a hint: German, plays for RB Leipzig…
If you’ve guessed it correctly, you’ll know I’m talking about Timo Werner. News of Chelsea acquiring Werner has been buzzing for days. Born in Stuttgart, Germany in 1996 to German parents, his father encouraged him to improve his stamina and athleticism by running up and down mountains, and both parents emphasised the importance of education (because football wasn’t seen as something important to them) – his mother even insisted that he completed high school, at minimum. Werner started his footballing career with TSV Steinhaldenfield’s Youth Academy, where he rapidly built his football skills. His performances impressed VfB Stuttgart and he was enrolled into their youth program at the age of six. In the 2012/13 season, he joined the under-19 squad and impressed by scoring 24 goals. At the age of 17, when he was about to graduate from high school, he joined the First Team squad. During those three seasons with “Die Schwaben,” despite getting the first-team football and being seen at the club’s wonder boy, the club went through six different managers and he felt the burden was too heavy. The club was also close to Bundesliga relegation in his first two seasons, before succumbing to it in 2015/16. He knew he had to leave in order to gain stability and consistency, so he joined RB Leipzig for £12.6m in the summer of 2016. “Die Rotten Bullen” were all about fast, aggressive, counter-attacking football, a perfect fit for him. He scored 21 goals in the Bundesliga in his first season, helping the club reach 2nd place in the Bundesliga (therefore qualifying for the Champions League). However, that 2016/17 season was a tough one on a personal level, following a clear dive that won Leipzig a penalty against Schalke and he went on to score. Opposition fans wouldn’t forgive him for this, and he was turned into Public Enemy No.1 for the following weeks. He was booed quite loudly at every opposition’s stadium, even during International duties for Germany, and that reaction had a mental impact on him. It ended when he proved his worth during the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup, assisting the winning goal for Lars Stindl in the Final. As time went on, Germany’s head coach Joachim Löw continued to have faith in him. The following two seasons saw him struggle to get over 20 goals (13 in 2017/18, 16 in 2018/19) in the Bundesliga, but he’s managed to break that barrier this season under Julian Nagelsmann. Despite the Bundesliga not being over yet (due to the pandemic), it’s widely reported that a transfer to Chelsea is imminent, with the Blues having paid his €53m (or £47.5m) release clause and offering him a £200kpw contract.
Now before I go over Werner tactically, I’m sure some of you must be laughing when I said: “Timo Werner, goalscoring winger,” even though he’s a striker at RB Leipzig. To be fair, you aren’t wrong: under Nagelsmann, the 24-year-old currently plays on the left of a double strike partnership (with either Yussuf Poulsen or Patrick Schick), but we’ve seen him play as a left-winger whenever “die Rotten Bullen” have lined up with a lone striker.
The German forward uses his passing to link up play forward (27.8 average passes per game at a 76.1% accuracy in the Bundesliga, 30.5 at a 78.7% accuracy in the UCL; 0.7/1.3 accurate long balls per game in the Bundesliga, 0.6/1.0 in the UCL; 0.5/1.3 accurate chipped passes per game in the Bundesliga, 0.4/1.1 in the UCL), sometimes even dropping deeper or wider in order to receive the ball and dribbling past opponents to pick out the right pass (per game, 1.8/2.8 successful dribbles in the Bundesliga and 0.9/2.4 in the UCL). He also sets up chances by spotting weakened areas and runs from his teammates, and when he drifts wide to avoid being marked, he’ll either use his pace to cut inside or he’ll aim a cross (per game, 0.5/2.5 crosses completed in the Bundesliga and 1.0/2.5 in the UCL). His intelligence on and off the ball allows him to work with limited space, making him a perfect fit for the Premier League, and allows him to create goalscoring opportunities (25 goals and 8 assists in the Bundesliga, 4 goals and 2 assists in the UCL; 3.8 shots per game and 1.5 key passes in the Bundesliga, 3.6 shots and 1.4 key passes in the UCL; 3.2 shots taken inside the box per game in the Bundesliga, 3.1 in the UCL). Having played 2491 minutes in the Bundesliga and 580 minutes in the UCL, this means he’s scored a goal every 100 minutes (or 1.11 games) in the Bundesliga and every 145 minutes (or 1.61 games) in the UCL, as well as made an assist every 311 minutes (or 3.46 games) in the Bundesliga, and every 290 minutes (or 3.22 games) in the UCL. His expected goals and assists (20.6 xG and 8.3 xA in the Bundesliga, 4.9 xG and 1.0 xA in the UCL; meaning per game, 0.75 xG and 0.30 xA in the Bundesliga, 0.77 xG and 0.15 xA in the UCL) show that he’s outperforming his goals in the Bundesliga and assists in the UCL, as well as averaging the mark on the rest.
The signing of Timo Werner is a clear plan from Frank Lampard: he wants a player who can offer a goalscoring threat from the wings (just as Eden Hazard did for the Blues, prior to his departure to Real Madrid) and, despite his initial desire to sign Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in January (which was rejected by the board due to his age and not having a re-sale value), he found a younger alternative that fits the criteria in the German striker.
Finally, let’s move further up to the pitch and focus on our current strikers.
ARE OUR CURRENT CHELSEA STRIKERS GOOD ENOUGH?
Having a natural striker who can score the goals, regardless of the tactical setup is important. So far this season, Frank Lampard has trusted in Tammy Abraham but has sidelined Olivier Giroud and Michy Batshuayi to the bench. The question is: is that decision justified, and, if not, should Chelsea sign a new striker or play one of their other strikers next season?
Let’s start off with Michy Batshuayi. Born in Brussels, Belgium in 1993 to Congolese parents, they encouraged him to play football from a young age. His energetic football prowess made him stand out and inspired his little brother. In 2003, his parents enrolled him in RFC Evere’s Youth Academy, where he started to shape his skills (one of which was to make long runs with the ball without passing). Despite his teammates considering him as selfish, scouts saw past it and were quite impressed with him. After two years with RFC Evere, he spent the next four seasons in four other youth academies: RUSA Schaarbeek (2005/06), FC Brussels (twice, 2006/07 and 2008), Anderlecht (2007/08), and finally Standard Liège (the biggest club in Wallonia and renowned for their youth development) from 2008. His impressive performances kept him at the club and allowed him to rise through the ranks: he joined the Reserve team in the summer of 2010 and started featuring for the First Team a few months later (February 2011). Despite disciplinary issues, he fought hard to progress in a sport he had a passion for and wanted to prove he was effective in front of goal (six goals in 23 games in 2011/12, 12 goals in 26 games in 2012/13, 21 goals in 34 games in 2013/14). He also won the Ebony Shoe Award in 2014, in recognition of the season’s best player of African origin in Belgium’s First Division. In the summer of 2014, he signed for Marseille for £5.4m and his transfer to the French club included a sell-on clause for Standard. Despite spending the first season as an impact sub, the Marseille manager Marcelo Bielsa was quite impressed with Batshuayi. In the summer of 2015, Biesla, Gignac and Payet left the club, leaving the club in a struggling position both financially and in the league. Despite Marseille finishing the season in 13th, Batshuayi greatly improved his build-up play and scored 17 goals in 36 games, highlighting his ability to be in the right place at the right time. This sparked interest from Chelsea, West Ham and Crystal Palace, but Batshuayi favoured the Blues as he was eager to play with Oscar, so Marseille accepted a £33m offer (£12m of which went to Standard Liège) so that they could comply with FFP regulations. Under Antonio Conte, he was an impact sub for the next 18 months, before joining Borussia Dortmund on loan following a three-way trade involving Arsenal. He scored seven goals in 10 games following five months with the BVB, and despite a desire for the German club to keep the player, both sides couldn’t agree on a transfer fee so he was sent back to London in the summer of 2018. In the 2018/19 season, he was deemed surplus to requirements, so he was sent out on loan To Valencia CF for the first six months, then Crystal Palace for the following six months after struggling to perform with “Los Murcelagos.” This season under Frank Lampard, he’s mostly been a backup to Tammy Abraham, but his performances were unconvincing and he lost his spot to Olivier Giroud.
Because Batshuayi has barely featured this season, we’ll be using league stats from his time on loan at Valencia (LaLiga) and Crystal Palace (Premier League) last season. The 26-year-old may be shorter than his striker counterparts (6’1”), but he’s known for his finishing and fancy footwork. While a striker is known for scoring goals or being a showboat (or both), he also has the all-around ability and displays unselfish teamwork qualities: he’s quick to make a pass to a free player (24.8 average passes per game at a 78.3% accuracy at Valencia, 37 at a 77.7% accuracy at Palace; 0.6/0.6 accurate long balls per game at Valencia, 0.7/1.1 at Palace; 0.6/0.7 accurate chipped passes per game at Valencia, 0.3/0.8 at Palace) so that the ball keeps going forward or even create a goalscoring opportunity for his teammate when that player is close to the goal. He’ll sometimes use his pace and dribbling ability (per game, 0.3/0.8 successful dribbles at Valencia and 0.8/1.4 at Palace) to free himself up to make those kinds of passes. There are times where the Belgian striker will create chances out of nothing and will try to find open spaces around central areas of the box, where he generally can calmly take a shot with either foot (1 goal and 0 assists at Valencia, 5 goals and 0 assists at Palace; 1.1 shots per game and 0.7 key passes at Valencia, 2.5 shots and 0.2 key passes at Palace; 0.7 shots taken inside the box per game at Valencia, 1.7 at Palace). Having played 522 minutes at Valencia and 757 minutes at Palace, this means he’s scored a goal during his 522 minutes (or 5.80 games) at Valencia and a goal every 151 minutes (or 1.68 games) at Palace, but no assists during his 522 minutes (or 5.80 games) at Valencia and his 757 minutes (or 8.41 games) at Palace. His expected goals and assists (2.3 xG and 0.6 xA at Valencia, 3.6 xG and 0.1 xA at Palace; meaning per game, 0.39 xG and 0.11 xA at Valencia, 0.43 xG and 0.01 xA at Palace) show he underperformed at Valencia but overperformed at Palace. In short, Batshuayi hasn’t performed during his time with the Blues, leading him to being loaned out during the 18 months prior to Frank Lampard’s arrival. Even under the former Chelsea legend, he’s failed to give serious competition to Tammy Abraham, so it should be in the interest of both parties to let him go to another club. Personally, I believe Borussia Dortmund would be the right club for him. The BVB club don’t have a concrete backup for Erling Haaland should he get injured, and if they were to sign a former loanee who’s delivered for them as a poacher, they could solidify their squad depth for next season’s Bundesliga challenge.
Next up, Olivier Giroud. Born in Chambéry, France in 1986 to French parents, he’s been a football lover ever since he was a kid (thanks to his older brother Romain who played for local clubs and would give him some advice). In 1992, he was enrolled into the local club Olympique Club de Forges, where he shaped up his skills for the next six years. In 1999, at the age of 13, he joined Grenoble. However, he was very low on confidence because his brothers had given up on their football dreams (therefore impacting his performances). He also wasn’t considered a strong enough player, so by 2005 he was named in the reserve squad, which was playing in the Championnat de France Amateur 2 (one of the lowest levels of French football). Determined to prove himself worthy for the Main Squad, he scored 15 goals in the 15 games he played in, getting him attention from the French football media. By March 2006 he was called to the First Team squad. In the summer of 2007, he signed his first professional contract, before being loaned out to FC Istres for a year. After the loan, he joined Tours for £135k in the summer of 2008. He stayed at the club for two seasons and was the Ligue 2 top scorer in the second season, scoring 21 goals. In the summer of 2010, he joined Montpellier for £1.8m, with an agreement reached between both clubs in January 2010. He stayed with “La Paillade” for two seasons and was the Ligue 1 top scorer in the second season, scoring 21 goals. In the summer of 2012, he got the attention of Premier League clubs, but Arsenal were the ones who won his services, joining for £10.8m. He emerged as a star player for the Gunners and remained as a key player for the squad for five-and-a-half years, before joining local rivals Chelsea in a three-way trade (that included Borussia Dortmund) for £15.3m. Despite his age, he was a key player in France’s 2018 Russia World Cup and remains a key alternative figure for the Blues (especially in their 2018/19 Europa League campaign).
Because he’s also barely featured this season, I’ll be using the stats of last season in the Premier League and Europa League to give a better indication of what Giroud can do when given regular game time. The 33-year-old is a tall (6’4”), physical player known for being a target man. He’s aerially efficient (1.4/2.2 aerial duels won in the EPL, 1.5/4.5 in the UEL) but lacks the pace and technical ability to match Tammy Abraham. The French striker is also physicality built enough to withstand pressure from behind (you’ve even seen him hold up the ball quite well against Virgil Van Dijk this season), and he’ll use that ability to connect his passes with the other attacking midfielders (9.7 average passes per game at a 68.2% accuracy in the EPL, 21.8 at a 71.5% accuracy in the UEL; 0.2/0.2 accurate long balls per game in the EPL, 1.4/2.9 in the UEL; 0.3/0.5 accurate chipped passes per game in the EPL, 0.8/1.2 in the UEL). Despite the fact that he struggles to get past opponents easily (per game, 0.1/0.3 successful dribbles in the EPL and 0.4/0.5 in the UEL) and that you won’t see him shift wide and deliver a cross to his teammates (per game, 0 crosses completed in the EPL and 0 in the UEL), he’ll do all he can to get into the right position for a goalscoring opportunity (2 goals and 4 assists in the EPL, 11 goals and 4 assists in the UEL; 1.2 shots per game and 0.7 key passes in the EPL, 3.3 shots and 1.5 key passes in the UEL; 1.1 shots taken inside the box per game in the EPL, 2.9 in the UEL), whether it’s for himself or his teammates. Having played 834 minutes in the EPL and 1125 minutes in the UEL, this means he’s scored a goal every 417 minutes (or 4.63 games) in the EPL and a goal every 102 minutes (or 1.14 games) in the UEL, as well as made an assist every 209 minutes (or 2.32 games) in the EPL and none during his 281 minutes (or 3.13 games) in the UEL. His expected goals and assists (4.0 xG and 2.0 xA in the EPL, 7.9 xG and 2.1 xA in the UEL; meaning per game, 0.43 xG and 0.21 xA in the EPL, 0.63 xG and 0.16 xA in the UEL) show that he’s outperformed in the Europa League but was average in the Premier League. In short, Giroud is a perfect plan B option should Lampard wants to change in-game tactics. With the club triggering a one-year-extension for the 2020/21 season, expect him to still be a backup option for the Blues.
Finally, there’s Tammy Abraham. Born in Camberwell, United Kingdom in 1997 to a Nigerian father and a British mother, he initially had an interest in drama at school before football. In 2004, despite his boyhood club being Arsenal, he snubbed the Gunners for Chelsea because he was a fan of ex-Chelsea star Didier Drogba. He started at the Blues’ under-8 youth level and as time went by prominent figures at the club were amazed as his success. Between 2004 and 2015, he was one of Chelsea’s brightest prospects whose skills improved as he went up the ranks. By the summer of 2014, he joined the under-18s squad and went on consecutive triumphs in the 2014/15 and 2015/16 seasons, for the UEFA Youth League, FA Youth Cup and the Southern Champions of the U18 Premier League. In those two seasons, he scored 74 goals in 98 games in all competitions, a form that got the attention of Guus Hiddink and who allowed him to train with the First Team. In the summer of 2016, he was promoted to the under-23s and was keen on getting regular First Team football, so he was loaned out to Bristol City for a year. He ended the season as the second-highest scorer in the Championship with 23 goals and was named as Bristol City’s Player of the Year. In the summer of 2017, he signed a five-year contract extension, before joining Swansea City for a year. However, he struggled to find the back of the net with the Swans, scoring only 8 goals in 39 games. During the summer of 2018, he took part in England under-21s squad for the 2018 Toulon Tournament, which they won. A month or two later, he was promoted to the First Team and featured against Manchester City in the FA Community Shield, but after a couple of weeks he was sent out on loan to Aston Villa for a year. By midseason, he scored 16 goals in 20 games and it was wildly expected that he would return to Chelsea, as Wolves were interested in signing him. In the end, he stayed and ended up as the second-highest scorer in the Championship with 26 goals, as well as being named in the Championship’s PFA Team of the Year.
Tactically, Abraham is known for his height superiority (6’3”), movement and finishing. At times, the 22-year-old will be used as a target man to receive chip or long balls in central areas by winning the ball through an aerial duel (3.2/7.3 aerial duels won in the EPL, 3.0/4.3 in the UCL) or dropping deeper and taking a defender with him, or in wide areas when the wingers don’t cover them. While the lack of muscle could be an issue to deal with centre-backs one-on-one, his height can sometimes be an asset: it allows him to shield the ball and be a step ahead when planning his next move, giving him the advantage to make a pass (14.1 average passes per game at a 67.4% accuracy in the EPL, 13.1 at a 69.6% accuracy in the UCL; 0.2/0.4 accurate long balls per game in the EPL, 0.4/0.4 in the UCL; 0.2/0.4 accurate chipped passes per game in the EPL, 0.3/0.4 in the UCL) or dribble past his opponent (per game, 0.6/1.4 successful dribbles in the EPL and 0.4/0.9 in the UCL), but he does need to bulk up in order to withstand pressure from behind. In the final third, the English striker generally lets the other players take care of the final ball in, especially crosses (per game, 0.1/0.4 crosses completed in the EPL and 0 in the UCL). Instead, he’ll shift into the central areas and blindside the centre-backs, as it gives him the advantage to exploit the free space and create a goalscoring opportunity (13 goals and 3 assists in the EPL, 2 goals and 1 assist in the UCL; 2.9 shots per game and 0.8 key passes in the EPL, 2.9 shots and 1.1 key passes in the UCL; 2.6 shots taken inside the box per game in the EPL, 2.9 in the UCL), especially on the rebound. Having played 1944 minutes in the EPL and 488 minutes in the UCL, this means he’s scored a goal every 150 minutes (or 1.66 games) in the EPL and a goal every 244 minutes (or 2.71 games) in the UCL, as well as made an assist every 665 minutes (or 7.39 games) in the EPL but none during his 488 minutes (or 5.42 games) in the UCL. His expected goals and assists (12.2 xG and 2.3 xA in the EPL, 3.9 xG and 0.5 xA in the UCL; meaning per game, 0.57 xG and 0.11 xA in the EPL, 0.73 xG and 0.09 xA in the UCL) show that he’s outperforming in terms of goals and averaging the mark in terms of assists. What’s clear is that Tammy Abraham will be Chelsea’s key strikers for next season, and with Olivier Giroud staying on for another year he has the ability to learn a lot about how to challenge players one-on-one physically from the Frenchman. With the imminent signing of Timo Werner and the imminent arrival of Hakim Ziyech, he’ll have less pressure on his shoulders than he has had so far this season, so next season might turn out to be much better for him.
To conclude, I believe that Chelsea do not require another striker at the present moment, as Tammy Abraham and Olivier Giroud are good enough to compete with one another for the striking position. However, I don’t see the use in keeping Michy Batshuayi, as he’ll just be surplus to requirements, so selling him to a new club this summer would probably be a better option for both the Blues and Michy himself. Also, Olivier Giroud is 33, and because the club have triggered his contract extension for one year it’s imperative that the Blues start scouting for a replacement for the Frenchman, even if that player won’t be needed until at least the 2021/22 season.
To conclude everything that has been said:
- I believe Hakim Ziyech can deliver for Chelsea at RW;
- Christian Pulisic and Hudson-Odoi aren’t ready to be regular starters as, despite their high potential, they can’t offer a goalscoring threat yet;
- The imminent arrival of Timo Werner will give us our fourth winger option and will provide a goalscoring threat from the wings;
- Tammy Abraham and Olivier Giroud are good enough to compete with one another, but Michy Batshuayi should be sold as he’s currently surplus to requirements.
By taking into account the previous articles, should Frank Lampard get the players I recommend then here’s how I would expect Chelsea to line-up for the 2020/21 season:
What’s clear is that Frank Lampard’s Chelsea is starting to look like Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool side in the 2017/18 campaign: Kepa vs Karius, Reece James vs Alexander-Arnold, Tomori vs Joe Gomez, Rudiger vs Lovren, a new left-back vs Robertson, Jorginho vs Henderson, Kanté vs Milner, Kovacic vs Wijnaldum, Ruben vs Oxlade-Chamberlain, Mount vs Coutinho, Ziyech vs Salah, Abraham vs Firmino, and Werner vs Mané. Regardless of who is better, all Chelsea need is someone to compete with Virgil Van Dijk and the process will be complete.
And that’s the end of the series! If you’ve enjoyed it, don’t forget to like and share this article!
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[All statistics were used from WhoScored and SofaScore]
 – EPL is a shorter way to say Premier League
 – UCL is a shorter way to say Champions League
 – UEL is a shorter way to say Europa League
Edited by: Dan