It’s up for debate whether Chelsea fans should be worried or excited about this season with the looming transfer ban, denying the Blues from strengthening their current squad. With the departure of Eden Hazard it’s to be expected that Chelsea may struggle without their little Belgian wizard.
Hazard has been Chelsea’s main man for the last 7 years and without the freedom to buy any players, it’s going to be down to the current squad to step up and fill the inevitable void. Callum Hudson-Odoi has been in rehabilitation showing excellent signs of progress after his ACL injury in April, the same applies to Ruben Loftus-Cheek who this week has been tweeting videos and photos of his exciting progress.
Frank Lampard’s arrival is the obvious talking point and also the centre of controversy, on one hand he’s a club legend and one of the most influential Chelsea players of all time but he’s also fresh on the managerial scene, finishing 6th with Derby in his first season; which isn’t a particularly memorable season for Derby. He’s made it clear that he knows the academy well and will be involving players throughout pre-season and during the season aswell which sets up a completely different season to what we’ve seen in previous years.
Lampard has also mentioned that he wants to restore Chelsea’s core by bringing former players who know and love the club back as a management team, Petr Cech has already returned as a technical director and Jody Morris is now assistant manager. Frank’s also announced plans of bringing back Didier Drogba and John Terry in future which is nothing less than incredible to hear for Chelsea fans.
The starting XI for the Blues will undoubtedly look very different this year with a slow integration of youth but with the squad provided for Frank, the formation should be similar to Sarri’s 4-3-3 from last season. Fortunately, the squad has exceptional depth due to years of having players out on loan which allows plenty of opportunity and competition for starting spots. Reece James has returned from being on loan at Wigan after an exceptional season where he even ended up as captain for a time and if you bear in mind that he’s only 19, that only takes a peek into his potential.
Kurt Zouma has always been a real physical specimen and looks ready for the big stage at Chelsea. The Frenchman has had season long tenures on loan at Stoke and Everton and has played at least 85% of the games at those clubs, giving him the regular experience in the Premier League. After seeing videos of him training and the general atmosphere surrounding him, it seems as if he may be quickly moved into the first team.
With exception of Diego Costa, Chelsea’s top goal scorer in all competitions hasn’t been a striker since 2012 and even then, the strikers only tend to be reaching around 20 goals which in comparison to other top teams in the Premier League is lower than expected. It’s a tough ask for any of the current Chelsea strikers to be reaching the heights of that but between Giroud, Batshuayi and Abraham they’ll have to find a way. It’s a tough to decipher who will be filling the vacant striker position to start the season but with Giroud’s domestic inconsistency the chance could be given to Michy Batshuayi. He scored 5 goals in his 11 appearances on loan at Crystal Palace last season and in comparison to Giroud’s 2 in 27, it seems like a straight forward decision.
Tammy Abraham has spent 2 of the last 3 seasons on loan in the championship and has scored 49 goals in 81 appearances, the goal per game ratio is hugely impressive and he’s also only 21. The question is, could he hack it in the Premier League? There’s absolutely no reason why he shouldn’t be given the chance, especially with a new manager with a potentially new mentality and tactics.
This season is bound to be exciting one way or another and it’s also one that’ll be intended to build the club for the future. After sales of Hazard, Morata, Kalas and Aina there’s money to be spent next Summer and it’ll be very interesting to see what happens then with Lampard, if he’s still there, of course.
A top 6 finish is the minimum expectation as per usual and should definitely be doable, but all pressure is surrounding Lampard, let’s sit back and see.