2019/20 Countdown: Chelsea
Premier League – 3rd; FA Cup – Fifth Round; League Cup – Runners-up; UEFA Europa League – Winners; Top Scorer (All competitions) – Eden Hazard (21)
The Question: Is the transfer ban a blessing in disguise?
Frank Lampard is at Chelsea because he supposedly knows and gets the club. Otherwise how else would one explain a top club appointing a semi-rookie of a manager while going through a transfer ban? But perhaps Lampard’s arrival amid the window restriction is a good thing.
For so long Chelsea have continued to farm out talented young players – a few dozen at a time – on loan. But an inability to add to their squad is likely to mean at least some of them will feature in the season, the likes of Tammy Abraham and Mason Mount have already appeared regularly in pre-season.
There’s no Eden Hazard anymore, so moments of individual magnificence to bail Chelsea out of sticky situations, but a young and developing squad might mean they wouldn’t have to rely on one man as often. It might also bode well for Chelsea’s future, a place that’s always been littered with uncertainty.
Transfer ban! Duh!! Alright, the Blues had already signed Christian Pulisic in January, and the American has joined in the off-season. Mateo Kovacic has also made his loan from Real Madrid permanent, having already been registered with the club (Insert joke about the banned Blues spending more than Arsenal).
Hazard is the most high-profile departure, the Belgian joining Real Madrid (and will be missed). Tomas Kalas and Ola Aina have left after their fair share of been loaned out. Meanwhile, there’s a ton of loans for players, as expected, including Alvaro Morata, whose temporary stay at Atletico Madrid has been extended and will be made permanent at the end of the season.
The Blues still have a strong squad, and, in the loan returnees, have players who have a point to prove, after not getting opportunities in the past (particularly Tammy Abraham). Hazard may be gone, but Pulisic should fill (some of) those shoes, especially if he hits the ground running.
The Blues have a manager who is only in the second season of his managerial career. Pulisic may be here, but he’s no Hazard, and other forward men in Pedro and Willian surely have to contribute much more. The strikers haven’t been firing for a while, and Tammy Abraham, if he does feature regularly, will have the shoulder the pressure of playing at Chelsea.
The Gaffer (Frank Lampard)
Frankie, in his first (and only) season with Derby County, finished in the same place as his predecessor, with a point lower, and lost to Aston Villa in the Championship play-off. So, it goes without saying that he got the Chelsea job primarily because of his history with the club. The fact that he supposedly knows the club means he’s likely to get an enormous amount of patience from the fans, but then again, he knows the club to not be the most patient when things look to be going south.
How will they do
A title challenge looks too much to ask, Manchester City and Liverpool are a cut above the rest, and Chelsea are far from being in the best stead. A top-four finish is just about the bare minimum at the club, a top-three position isn’t out of the question.
Kunle Ajao121 Posts
Kunle Ajao is a football writer and columnist for spotkick. Having made a toss of himself trying to actually play the game, he knew better and got a pen instead of boots. Spends a bit of his time with the game, and thinks he's a bit like Sid Lowe. He's not