A Blue Up North looks into how the international break might actually help The Blues.
This weekend sees the top divisions in Europe take a break from club football as we endure this season’s first international matches.
This is usually a very frustrating time for most supporters. The early season buzz is currently in full flow, with the discussions of how things are looking and may pan out going on at every opportunity.
But then that all suddenly grinds to a shuddering halt as players spread to all corners of the globe to represent their nations and the weekend has a certain emptiness about it.
But, for once, could this be a good thing for Chelsea Football Club?
This is a different season for The Blues. Instead of having one of Europe’s elite managers in charge and a few new signings to get excited (or not in some recent instances!) about, there has been a transfer embargo over the club this summer and we now have a former player at the helm.
While Frank Lampard is an undisputed club legend as a player, just 1 season in management in the second tier of English football does not make him one of Europe’s elite.
The appointment of the whole current management team has clearly been done to aide the pathway for a few of Chelsea’s highly talented youth products to be integrated into the first team squad. We all know that.
And while patience is the key, for both Frank’s relative inexperience as a manager and for a relatively youthful squad of players devoid of their prize possession from the last 7 years, this has been a bit of a topsy turvy start to the season.
There have been many positives, but we have endured a number of negatives as well. While that should not come as any surprise really, we all still want to see resolutions to the negative issues.
One of the main solutions that has been talked about is the unusually long injury list Chelsea has had so far. And it’s not just the number of unavailable players, but their stature within the first team itself.
Now I’m not about to bang on the drum that the return of these players will suddenly solve all of Frank’s problems, but it will surely help in some respect.
For example, late on in the home match against Sheffield United when Mateo Kovacic was clearly struggling after dominating all over midfield, the manager had to turn to the previously untried Billy Gilmour.
Not that young Billy doesn’t have the skill set to perform for the team, but while struggling to hold on to a narrow lead against a team as robust and as confident as The Blades were, you wouldn’t want to throw on a lad who looks only 8 stone wet through having arrived straight from finishing his homework.
But without N’Golo Kante and Ruben Loftus-Cheek to call upon, Billy was Frank’s only real midfield option.
Maybe the manager could have been a little more inventive and introduced Andreas Christensen as a holding midfielder alongside Jorginho and let Mason Mount run freely as a number 10, but he opted for a midfielder to play in midfield.
But this situation also highlighted another issue. With the more freedom to play, the players have under Frank they are already showing signs of tiredness. This will be highlighted further after the break when The Blues start their campaigns in both The Champions League and The Carabao Cup. From just one match a week to playing 2 matches every week will stretch the squad to it’s limits.
Fortunately the break will also give time for a few of the players who have missed out recently the chance to make a return. N’Golo Kante, Antonio Rudiger and Pedro could all be included in the squad for the trip to Wolverhampton next weekend. Callum Hudson-Odoi is not that far off a return either.
While the starting XI at Molineux may look very similar to Frank’s last selection, the substitute’s bench could have a whole different feel to it, with the manager having far better options at his disposal.
The return of these players may not solve all the issues, but the international break may help give a much needed extra break for a number of Chelsea players.
But as always, patience is the key. We will return in to this busy spell of matches and surely the more players fit and available will only be for the better for Chelsea Football Club.
Written by Jon Ellis, home and away season ticket holder. Follow him on Twitter @ClitheroeBlue