After over 600 appearances with 211 goals to his name, Frank Lampard called time on his Chelsea career to move forward in his professional life. But this wasn’t goodbye, the Chelsea legend promised to return to the club in some capacity.
In 2018, he took up a role as a youth coach at Chelsea to begin his coaching career. A year later he was appointed Derby County manager and almost took the club to the Premier League in his first season in charge. It took elimination in a Playoff final by Aston Villa to stop his side going through.
The following summer, he was appointed as the Chelsea manager and instantly brought a sense of direction, style and hope back to Stamford Bridge. We’ll be analyzing his first season, how he’s set Chelsea up and what he can improve on as he evolves as a coach.
If a lot of you thought Lampard was going to be a pragmatic coach since he played in a pragmatic team (we did) you couldn’t have been wrong. The Englishman has come in and revitalized Chelsea in an attacking sense, choosing to go after his opponents rather than play to their weaknesses.
His team lined up very similarly to how Derby County did under his stewardship, in either a 433 or a 343 depending on certain opponents. After David Luiz left for Arsenal, his central defensive pairing has fluctuated between many players.
Kurt Zouma, Andres Christensen, Fikayo Tomori and Antonio Rudiger have interchanged through out the season centrally. While Azpilicueta and Reece James occupied the right side with Marcos Alonso and Emerson taking the helm on the left.
The midfield two remained consistent with Lampard opting for a Jorginho-Kovacic double pivot with the former being the link between attack and defence. Tammy Abraham led the line brilliantly this season scoring 13 goals being flanked by Willian and Pulisic/Hudson Odoi
The role behind the striker was given to Mason Mount, the young Chelsea midfielder had spent last season at Derby County with Frank Lampard and had obviously earned his place in the side.
Capable of playing multiple roles in this Chelsea team, Mount has also been utilized outwide owning to his workrate, tenacity and creativity. This was exemplified in Chelsea’s 2-0 away to Spurs earlier this season.
Although hampered through injuries, N’Golo Kante has played his part for Chelsea in some great performances. We’re hopeful of seeing more of the France international the coming season (whenever that happens).
As mentioned earlier, Lampard came out as sort an anti-Mourinho in his approach to the game. His Chelsea is aggressive and attack-minded although a bit naive in some capacity. We’ll be highlighting the manager’s strengths and weaknesses in how he approaches the game in this section.
The two pieces that we’ve managed to pinpoint that are pivotal to how Chelsea play their football: Jorginho and Abraham. Jorginho serves as the link player between attack and defense, with his penetrative passes through the middle and the ability to control the tempo for Chelsea makes him undroppable.
Abraham is someone who resembles Victor Osimhen to some extent. He has the capability to lead the line well, runs in behind the defence and creates goal scoring opportunities for himself through his physicality and frame.
In possession, Chelsea adapts a sort of 2-4-3-1 shape with the Center-backs pushed high up to the halfway line to squeeze any maneuverable space the opposition may have.
Jorginho being the controlling midfielder dictates the tempo, with the fullbacks providing width outwide. Azpilicueta prefers to stay the deeper of the fullbacks as his late crosses into the box are exceptional while Alonso/Emerson maraude forward down the left.
This allows the wide players to occupy the half spaces on either side of Abraham who leads the line. While Mason Mount is given the license to drift into the box AND act as a third central midfielder in build up.
Kovacic has two jobs on the team. Firstly, he’s the primary ball carrier and is tasked with carrying the ball up the field through his dribbling ability. According to WhoScored, Kovacic has completed 3.4 dribbles per game that signify Lampard using the Croatian well.
Second, is to provide defensive support to Jorginho in the double pivot and in doing so he’s formed a good partnership with the Italian international. Both are playing with more freedom, more emphasis than they were under Sarri and are at the forefront of Lampard’s Chelsea renaissance
Lampard’s Chelsea presses from the front aggressively to win the ball back with Mason Mount trusted to instigate the press. Its a high risk high reward style of play and has yielded positive results for the team.
It allows them to win the ball back high up the pitch, catching the opposing team off guard and scoring as we saw when Mason Mount put Chelsea ahead against Leicester.
As you can see there are clear issues to be worked on whenever Chelsea press an opponent from the picture demonstrated below. Here’s what we call the first phase of pressing where the attacking players would press the backline into mistakes or poor touches
But what would happen if the first phase gets bypassed? That is one of Chelsea’s achilles heel. With the fullbacks tucking inside (at least one) and the wide players getting into half spaces there is ALOT of space afforded to players in front of the defence should Jorginho fall asleep.
Chelsea’s aggression tired their players out, and the man marking slowed down as the game wore on which allowed players to take advantage of the lack of concentration from Chelsea, with space opening up more frequently.
The exploitation of this space is shown either on the counter or the bypass of the press when a midfielder is allowed to stroll in behind Jorginho or in front of the CBs. This was shown in the 0-3 Hammering by Bayern Munchen as below:
As you can see, Azpilicueta drops narrow to press the free man in midfield, leaving Alaba ample time to pick out Davies outwide who has acres in front of him if he manages to bypass Willian.
Those are not great odds at 90 minutes and should be something that Lampard should look to fix going into the long haul in his Chelsea career. What we’ve normally seen is a compact midfield three to provide solidity in the middle to compensate for the front three pressing.
Perhaps we may see Lampard adopt that approach as he gets the kind of players he’s looking for.
Set pieces have been one of Chelsea’s glaring weakness. They’ve conceded 15 goals from set plays, the worst in the division. Their set up on set pieces confuses us. We’ve seen them zonal marking in games while in others a man-marking approach has been preferred.
The goal that Leicester scored particularly infuriates us, check the screen grabs below
We cannot tell what system they’ve implemented here. If this was zonal marking we would see someone on the post on either side of Kepa and the CBs wouldn’t be allowed to make the jump on the Chelsea defenders.
If it was man marking, every man in the box would be properly marked out of taking the header yet Ndidi is free to head home. Lampard needs to make up his mind on the set pieces and stick to it, to allow his defenders to adapt.
The following statistics have been taken in view of Chelsea’s performance in the 19/20 season covering both defensive and offensive outputs of the game
|Goals per Game||1.76|
|Big Chances Created||55|
|Aerial Duels Won||2265|
|Errors leading to Goal||2|
Lampard’s reign is off to a great start and we believe that with a few additions (such as Hakim Ziyech) and some fine tuning on the style of play this Chelsea team can compete for top honours again.
Although this would require patience from the fans. Lampard is here for the long haul, one way or another, let him build his vision.
It could be very exciting.