The club’s greatest ever player is now the manager… but will the success continue at Stamford Bridge?
Welcome back to ‘The 2019-20 Premier League Season Preview’ – a feature series that previews all 20 clubs of the Premier League ahead of the new football season.
Time to make a trip to London and preview the next club in the series.
The five-time Premier League champions… Chelsea.
MANAGER: Frank Lampard
CAPTAIN: César Azpilicueta
ODDS TO WIN THE LEAGUE: 33-1 (via Oddschecker)
New season. New manager. New era. But the same ambition.
You can definitely say that there is a sense of a ‘new dawn’ at Chelsea.
New Head Coach Frank Lampard – arguably the greatest player to ever play for the club – returns home to fulfil his destiny of becoming the main man in the Stamford Bridge dugout. After the foundations that were built by Maurizio Sarri last season, Lampard will be looking to continue to build upon and evolve the new philosophy and style of play encouraged by the club of attacking, pressing football.
Despite this, the expectations and wants from the club (specifically Roman Abramovich) will most probably be the same. Secure a spot in the UEFA Champions League and challenge for at least a trophy or the Premier League title.
Of all the teams in the top six, Chelsea has undergone the most changes this summer. A new manager has arrived and their top player has departed. And I haven’t even mentioned the transfer ban…
There are question marks over most areas of the squad and a flock of young talents whose time might be now or never, but with a renewed sense of optimism and belief around the club and in the fanbase… Let’s hope Frank can deliver off the pitch just like he did on.
HOW THEY FINISHED IN THE LAST FIVE SEASONS
2014-15 – 1st (Premier League)
2015-16 – 10th (Premier League)
2016-17 – 1st (Premier League)
2017-18 – 5th (Premier League)
2018-19 – 3rd (Premier League)
Premier League – 3rd
FA Cup – Fourth Round
Carabao Cup – Runners-up
UEFA Europa League – Winners
Top Scorer – League: Eden Hazard (16), All: Eden Hazard (21)
Mateo Kovačić (Real Madrid – £40.5m)
Eden Hazard (Real Madrid – £130m)
Ola Aina (Torino – £9m)
Tomáš Kalas (Bristol City – £8.1m)
Victorien Angban (Metz – £5.4m)
Daishawn Redan (Hertha Berlin – £2.43m)
Jay Dasilva (Bristol City – £2.16m)
Kylian Hazard (Cercle Brugge – Undisclosed)
Fankaty Dabo (Coventry City – Free Transfer)
Bradley Collins (Barnsley – Free Transfer)
Eduardo (Braga – Free Transfer)
Ruben Sammut (Sunderland – Free Transfer)
Marcin Bułka (Paris Saint-Germain – Free Transfer)
Martell Taylor-Crossdale (Fulham – Free Transfer)
Josimar Quintero (Espanyol – Free Transfer)
Todd Kane (Queens Park Rangers – Free Transfer)
Victor Moses (Fenerbahçe – Loan)
Álvaro Morata (Atlético Madrid – Loan, £58m transfer in Summer 2020)
Nathan Baxter (Ross County – Loan)
Richard Nartey (Burton Albion – Loan)
Mario Pašalić (Atalanta – £900,000 Loan)
Charly Musonda (Vitesse Arnhem – Loan)
Nathan (Atlético Mineiro – Loan)
Luke McCormick (Shrewsbury Town – Loan)
Ethan Ampadu (Red Bull Leipzig – Loan)
Jake Clarke- Slater (Birmingham City – Loan)
Matt Miazga (Reading – Loan)
Lewis Baker (Fortuna Düsseldorf – Loan)
Gary Cahill – Released
Kyle Scott – Released
Joseph Colley – Released
Renedi Masampu – Released
Jared Thompson – Released
Rob Green – Retired
(As of 27th July 2019 – subject to change)
Arrizabalaga, Caballero, Cumming, Blackman
Rüdiger, Alonso, Zappacosta, Christensen, Azpilicueta, David Luiz, Emerson, Zouma, Tomori, James, Maatsen, Guehi, Sterling, Chalobah
Jorginho, Drinkwater, Kanté, Barkley, Loftus-Cheek, Bakayoko, Kovačić, van Ginkel, Mount, Palmer, Gilmour, Gallagher, Piazon
Pedro, Kenedy, Giroud, Hudson-Odoi, Willian, Batshuayi, Abraham, Pulisic, Ugbo, Brown
With the opening game against Manchester United just two weeks away now, Lampard is starting to lean towards setting up at Old Trafford in a 4-2-3-1 formation.
With the likes of Kepa Arrizabalaga, César Azpilicueta and David Luiz almost assured of their place in the starting XI, it’s up to our Head Coach to decide who fills the other spots.
Educated guess? Expect Emerson to start at left-back and finally be confirmed as the club’s main LB. Also expect Christian Pulisic and Pedro to cover the wings in the 3 behind the striker, which I feel will be Olivier Giroud. Kurt Zouma to be Luiz’s CB partner (although I would personally have Andreas Christensen), Ross Barkley over Mason Mount for the ’10’ role due to his experience and both Jorginho and Mateo Kovačić for the ‘double-pivot’ due to how impressive they played together against Barcelona and the lack of fitness N’Golo Kanté has right now.
4-3-3 and ‘Diamond 4-4-2’ are other formations that Lampard could consider for the opening weekend of the season, but I feel injuries to specific players (most notably Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Callum Hudson-Odoi) will deter Lampard from using either system.
PLAYER TO LOOK OUT FOR – REECE JAMES
When it comes to Chelsea academy prospects/graduates, much of the talk has been on the likes of Hudson-Odoi, Loftus-Cheek and Ethan Ampadu.
But there is another name that has been overlooked for a while but now appears to be getting the recognition he deserves… Reece James.
After a fantastic loan spell at Wigan Athletic last season, James comes back to Chelsea with many fans expecting him to take the spot of club captain Azpiliceuta sooner rather than later.
With great characteristics such as crossing, dribbling, passing, overlapping the wingers to name a few that you expect from a modern-day full-back (whilst also being very comfortable in a central midfield role), James’ potential has a very, very high ceiling.
With supporters urging the club to finally give youth a chance, perhaps Reece James will get the opportunity to prove himself in the Chelsea first team next season and for the foreseeable future, with the youngster appearing to have the talent and attitude to forge a successful career at the top.
HOW MUCH OF A THREAT WILL CHELSEA BE THIS SEASON?
Chelsea will once again be a threat to other title challengers and top 4 hopefuls this season. With this in mind, expect The Blues to be more involved in the race again for a top 4 spot than pushing the likes of Manchester City and Liverpool for the title.
Despite having a very solid starting line-up, Chelsea’s issues – just like last season – will be on the squad players being able to help contribute. And with the FIFA-imposed transfer ban basically throttling the club until next summer, Lampard will have to maximise what he can get out of the current squad he has, just like Sarri managed to do so last season with a third-place finish and winning the UEFA Europa League.
WHERE WILL THEY FINISH?
It looks like being a season in transition for Chelsea as life begins with Lampard but without Eden Hazard.
Trying to replace den Hazard’s incredible contribution (G+A) from last season will be an almost impossible task. With Hazard now plying his trade for Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabéu, much will now be expected on the likes of Willian, Pedro, Hudson-Odoi, Pulisic, Loftus-Cheek and Barkley to cover Hazard’s goals and eclipse it too.
Plus, the club will hope that one of Giroud, Michy Batshuayi and Tammy Abraham (or all three even) will be able to provide enough goals to help Chelsea continue their remarkable, perennial success since Abramovich bought the club in 2003.
Will Chelsea win the league? Nope. But can they get into the top 4 once again? Absolutely, with me expecting them to do so once again.
Predicted position: 4th
Come back for part 7 tomorrow when we go from west London to South London and preview Crystal Palace.