Date: 14th September 2020 at 6:57pm
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Football’s back!

I’m excited, in a sense that I probably wouldn’t have gone to this game anyway so it’s not really any different.

No travelling away fans, buzzing at the prospect of seeing perhaps the most exciting Chelsea team since 2004, is however, something that sits uncomfortably with me.

There should be somebody there to witness it in the flesh.

Expectations are high, nobody (in our predictions anyway) are expecting us to win the league, but Chelsea must close the gap to Manchester City and reigning Champions Liverpool.

But what can we really expect from Frank Lampard’s Showtime Blues?

League

Detractors of Lampard are quick to point out that in his short managerial career he took Derby County from 6th to 6th and Chelsea from 3rd to 4th, however those detractors are keen to forget he actually took Derby to the play off final and inherited a Chelsea side without star man Eden Hazard, who signed for Real Madrid, and with a transfer ban.

To finish 4th, in a Arsene Wenger way, can be deemed a success.

However having spent upwards of £200m (and counting) Lampard and Chelsea should finish a lot closer than the 33 points they finished behind Liverpool and the 15 points they finished behind 2nd place City.

To do so, isn’t as difficult as it seems, score more, concede less.

Simplistic I know, but the numbers behind it make sense. Offensively, Chelsea scored 69 goals, the third best in the league, although some way behind Liverpool and City.

The key stats however, are total shots (625, 2nd most in the league) and big chances missed (71, 2nd most in the league). It shows that Chelsea didn’t suffer from a lack of creativity as some have suggested. Rather an inability to hit the back of the net.

We’ve known for a long time that goals from midfield have been an issue, new signing Kai Havertz should help with that. While Timo Werner has the pedigree and top level experience that Tammy Abraham is perhaps lacking to convert more big opportunities.

At the other end it’s slightly more complex. Chelsea conceded 54 goals, worse than the entire top 10 and a couple of others languishing a lot closer to the drop zone.

A mixture of a goalkeeper experiencing a crisis of confidence, central defensive partnerships that communicate less than a married couple and more tactical switches than a game of football manager, all contributed to our terrible defensive record.

A lot is pinned on the shoulders of Thiago Silva to be the Brazilian John Terry when he starts to make his way into the team.

While we’ve all commented that none of our existing centre backs are good enough, we’ve also said that they all need a dominant partner next to them.

It’s hoped that Silva can bring out the best of whoever is partnered next to him, which at the moment is rumoured to be Kurt Zouma in poll position.

Between the sticks, (not yet confirmed) new goalkeeper Edouard Mendy should give Chelsea a presence in the penalty area that Kepa Arrizabalaga doesn’t.

This could potentially solve some of our set piece woes, with a commanding goalkeeper claiming balls into the box.

Domestic Competitions

Reaching an FA Cup final was an added bonus to the top four finish last season, but losing to Arsenal would’ve hurt Lampard badly.

He’ll want to put that right this season and go one further and lift his first trophy as a manager.

As for the Carabao Cup, it could provide an easier route to silverware but it could also provide extra matches in an already congested fixture list.

Take it or leave it? That’s Frank’s decision.

Silverware, despite what the pundits say, is not a must for Lampard.

As we’ve heard from several top class sources such as Matt Law, this is phase one of our transfer strategy.

Yes we’ve spent a vast amount bringing in (so far) 5 potential first team signings, we’ve only do so because of the situation we’re in.

It’ll take another two, maybe three windows for us to have a squad where you’re thinking a trophy is an absolute must, a bit like Manchester City.

For Lampard, progress will be judged on that League table and the size of the gap between the Champions and us.

Champions League

After the very nasty reality check handed to us by Bayern Munich in the Round of 16 last season, our progress in the Champions League will be another important factor in judging Lampard and Chelsea this season.

Chelsea haven’t won a knockout Champions League game since 2014, which quite frankly is criminal.

A better performance in the group stages and hopefully a kinder draw could fix that and put Chelsea into the Quarter-Finals, which would in itself be an improvement for Chelsea.

There’s still a host of teams across Europe who are vastly superior to us, and that’s where the extra two or three transfer windows will become so important.

Overall

I don’t remember being this excited about a Chelsea team for a very long time, however you must also temper that with the fact it will take time for these signings to bed in and the extra signings needed to make us genuine challengers again.

Top four is an absolute must this year, a domestic trophy will be an added bonus, and a better showing in Europe is something we should be expecting from Lampard’s Chelsea this season.

Aside from that, we shouldn’t expect anything, just sit back and enjoy the ride with Frank Lampard’s Showtime Blues.

Win or lose, up the Blues!!!