Frank Lampard has been there, seen it all and won it all with Chelsea FC as a player.
Now the honors is on him to turn around the Chelsea team by leading from the front as the Manager, despite the fact that there are already rumours and calls for finding his replacement.
Everyone who follows Chelsea or English Premier League know that the owner of Chelsea ought to see Wins. Even with trophies in the cabinet, managers have changed in Chelsea. So for Lampard, definitely there will be pressure to show the results and that too after spending more than 200 Mn in the transfer window. Another factor favoring him will be the current economic downturn, courtesy pandemic, even Roman Abramovich will not be looking at getting an expensive Manager if Lampard turns this around soon.
Chelsea have played 19 matches in the Premier league this season and managed to get 29 points. Currently at 9th position in the points table with many teams closing the gap really fast.
Let us take a look at the points table at the same time frame in 2019-20:-
Chelsea had 32 points from 19 games. This season the Blues have managed 29 points from the same number of games.
The deja vu moment shows up when we look at the pattern.
Last season, Chelsea started the campaign losing to Manchester United but quickly found the momentum going for the next 11 games. It came to a stop with the game against Manchester City. Game no 13 to 17, Chelsea ended up with 1 W and 4 L.
This season, Chelsea started with a Win against Brighton and lost the next game to Liverpool. It was a good stretch on unbeaten run until the 11th game. From Game no 12 to 17, Chelsea has 1 W, 1 D and 4 L. The last loss against Manchester City. It was the first game in which the much discussed trio of Ziyech, Werner and Pulisic started together but where not able to make an impression. Hopefully going forward, literally, things would change for these 3 and that will be imperative for a revival of Chelsea FC.
Lampard changed the formation last year to stop the slump in form. Game no 18 in 2020 saw Lampard using a back 3 formation against Tottenham and it did pay off. The formation was continued for the next 2 more games before going back to 4 defenders from Game no 21.
Interestingly Chelsea Won the 18th and lost the 19th game last season as well.
The results repeated this season though Lampard did not make a change in the formation. The Blues won against Fulham and lost to Leicester City.
Another interesting stats, Chelsea scored 33 goals in 19 games in 2019-20 and 2020-21 as well. This season though have seen a reduction in the goals conceded, 23 against 27 last year.
For now, Lampard is happy with 4 defenders and with the number of players who can start in the midfield, it looks like the formation will continue for the time being.
If there is not much action happening during this January transfer window (Tomori has left on a loan and no new signings except the rumour about 1 more GK) then Lampard has enough options in hand to try out the back 3 formation, if required. But this time around it is going to be difficult to make team selection and try to get the best out of the players – Ziyech, Werner, Pulisic and Tammy.
Silva, Zouma and Rudiger can hold the central defense with Chilwell + James playing as full backs. The concern for Lampard will be in taking a call in the holding midfield area. Will it be Kante + Mount or Kovacic+ Mount or will he try the young combination of Gilmour along side Mount. Jorginho will be waiting for his opportunity as well. CHO and Giroud can also fit into this 3-4-3 formation as part of the starting 11 or as subs. Havertz might find it difficult but looking at the last few minutes he played against City and the assist provided by him from the left side should have given some positive signals.
But irrespective of the formations, 3-4-3 or 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3 , Lampard and players have to get going. After 19 games, Chelsea was 4th in 2019-20 and now at the 9th place. But the point difference is not much and it is a matter of 2-3 games to get closer to top 4.
It was the game against City that started the foray of losses last season and hopefully it looks like the game against City would end the streak of losses this season.
Lampard will definitely be thinking of ways to turn this around. But this season has not been great for most of the clubs and have seen the lack of form at some point in time for the usual top 6 clubs. Yes , Chelsea had spent during the summer and got some exciting talent. Again, with Covid, testing, lockdown, bubbles, injuries and everything happening around, it is not that easy for the players, staff and others to keep up the momentum.
Chelsea has got talented players who can give headaches to the opposition defense. Chelsea also has a good defensive unit except for the fact that Mendy and the defensive line up looked like they were getting complacent / tired in the last 2-3 games.
What they will be looking to avoid is another slump in form similar to last season’s game no 23 to 26, where the Blues managed to get only 2 out of the possible 12 points.
Lampard and the players have to get going. The clock will be ticking against them. 19 games to go, out of the possible 57 points, if Chelsea manage to get 37~46 points then it will be a good end and may see the repeat of last season by finishing in top 4.
It will be definitely great for the club, Lampard, players & fans if it is the 3rd position, especially for the Sponsor 3 :).