Chelsea’s Season Opener Will Demonstrate Whether Frank Lampard Himself Has Improved Over the Summer



Frank Lampard will be under the spotlight against Brighton | GLYN KIRK/Getty Images

A lot has been said about Chelsea’s transfer business this summer. The Blues have splashed the cash on Kai Havertz, Timo Werner, Hakim Ziyech, Thiago Silva and Ben Chilwell, and some people aren’t happy about that.

Some fans on social media have accused Chelsea of trying to buy the league (again), and we’ve even had Jürgen Klopp claim that his Liverpool side would never dream of doing anything like that… despite doing pretty much the same thing after Philippe Coutinho was sold.

Regardless of whether you agree or not, there’s no denying that Chelsea will be perhaps the most intriguing side in the Premier League this season.

3️⃣ days! ?#BHACHE pic.twitter.com/sJh2rguY84

— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) September 11, 2020

However, those wanting to see the new-look Chelsea in action in Monday’s season opener against Brighton will be sorely disappointed. Ziyech, Silva and Chilwell will all miss out through injury and quarantine precautions, and without the latter two, Chelsea’s defence will look exactly the same as it did last season.

On one hand, that’s terrifying. That’s literally terrifying. This is one of the club’s all-time worst back lines, and from a personnel perspective, there’s absolutely nothing Lampard can do to change that.

On the other hand, it’ll provide us with the perfect chance to see whether Lampard has learned any valuable lessons over the summer.

It’s no secret that the club legend’s tactics left a little to be desired last season, especially at the back. Defending from set pieces was abysmal and general organisation was effectively non-existent. Chelsea were a shambles.

Thiago SilvaAdding Silva should help Chelsea improve | Jean Catuffe/Getty Images

A lot of expectation to sort that out has been put on the shoulders of Silva, who comes with 11 years of top European experience and has been tasked with instilling his wisdom on the Blues’ young defence. However, he won’t be there against Brighton.

Barring some very swift business over the weekend, it’ll be the same setup which we saw all last season, and with no Silva to do his work for him, it’ll be over to Lampard to ensure Chelsea are stronger.

Lampard is a smart man. He knows full well that he needs to improve, and he’s already taken steps to do that. The boss has brought in highly-rated coach Anthony Barry from Wigan Athletic to aid his tactical analysis of the squad in a bid to further understand what made Chelsea so vulnerable last season.

Frank LampardLampard needs to show progression | Craig Mercer/MB Media/Getty Images

He’s had all summer to focus solely on what to change for the coming season, and he’ll already have started putting that in place, even before Silva gets there to add his wealth of experience to the pot.

Against Brighton, who managed a 1-1 draw against Chelsea on New Year’s Day and picked up the same result in pre-season, fans will expect Lampard’s side to be more structured. The two goals conceded in those two games – Alireza Jahanbakhsh’s overhead kick and a Pascal Groß penalty – both came as a result of the defensive uncertainty which needs eradicating.

We might see Chelsea prepare to face corners differently. The full-backs might stay back in attacks to ensure they don’t get overloaded. Anything could change, but what’s important is that something does actually change.

Jorginho against Brighton last term! ? pic.twitter.com/emRlf8bbbX

— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) September 11, 2020

On paper, Chelsea should be too strong for Brighton. There likely won’t be any problems going forward, with Havertz set to make his debut and Christian Pulisic in line to feature, but it’s whether Chelsea can cope at the back which will decide the game.

Silva and Chilwell can’t fix everything. Lampard needs to show he’s capable of pulling his weight to get to the bottom of these struggles, and by the time the final whistle blows on Monday, we should have a good idea just how much progress he has made over the summer.

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