Putting Chelsea’s season into context, they are just three points ahead of Arsenal – who are having a terrible season. The Blues are worse off than they were at this point last season. They have won just one of their last six matches. Talks of a potential title race has began to simmer as familiar defensive frailties under Frank Lampard have started surfacing once again. Edouard Mendy is now showing his kepabilities, he has started drinking goals like the legendary Kepa ‘Aribibizagba’, where does the problem really lie with Chelsea?
The appointment of Lampard looked more sentimental than deserved. Even if it was expected Lampard was going to manage Chelsea at a point, it kind of came early. Lampard was a manager yet to hone his style as a manager. His time at his first job – Derby County showed glimpses of quality but there was nothing substantive enough.
Right from last season, his Chelsea team have appeared spineless, despite having Ngolo Kanye – one of the best defensive midfielders in the Premier League in the last five seasons. The team conceded more than 50 goals in the Premier League last season, a stat for relegation threatened teams. A fourth place finish in a season when they couldn’t bring in players was seen as a plausible success but all the excuses only papered the cracks of Lampard’s inadequacies.
Around £200m signings later, Lampard and Chelsea seemed to have made the wrong signings or Lampard does not just know how to manage his players. It is a combination of both, but more of the latter. Olivier Giroud looks like Lampard’s best center-forward but Lampard always seems reluctant to play him, quite mysteriously. There seems to be an effort to play the misfiring Kai Havertz and Timo Werner into form but both players confidence continues to drop with every passing poor performance. Hakim Ziyech has looked really good but has struggled with fitness. Regardless, without the aforementioned attacking trio, Chelsea have options to cover up. Lampard is just not using them right.
Chelsea have been terrible defensively and it is not just down to the players. Thiago Silva has come into the defence and has performed creditably alongside Kurt Zouma, Ben Chilwell and Reece James are good at fullback – it is not for a lack of personnel, it is how Lampard sets the team up. The team is always susceptible to counter attacks and the defence seems unshielded most times. Against Wolves, Arsenal and Manchester City, we saw how the opposition practically strolled from one end to Chelsea’s goal. Like Kepa, Mendy seems to also be dropping in confidence after a good start.
Lampard cannot say he has not been backed enough. This Chelsea team should be competing for the title, just a top four should not be enough. They have one of the biggest squads in the league and after one full season in charge, he should have a better hang of the team. As is expected, there is no manager imprint on this Chelsea team. One can not say they are an attacking team or defensively solid team. They are a team struggling for an identity as Lampard has even struggled to identify his strongest eleven. It is looking obvious another manager will do better with the team. One thing has to change at Chelsea, it is becoming clearer it is the manager.