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No blues for Frank in first season back at the Bridge

Updated: Sep 8, 2020

Frank Lampard has been trusted as the man to guide his former club – where he had a particularly decorated playing career – back to the top. Lampard landed the job as Blues boss in only his second season in management, following a season at Championship side Derby County where he guided them to the promotion play-off final. The club legend is royalty in Chelsea folklore and was destined to become their manager at some point. In 2019 Lampard became the club’s first Englishman to take charge since Glenn Hoddle was appointed in 1993.

Lampard surprised many in his first season back at Stamford Bridge. Having to start the job without being able to make additions to his squad, club record goalscorer Lampard knew he and assistant manager Judy Morris had a tough task at hand. The ex-skipper put his faith in youth by regularly starting Mason Mount and Tammy Abraham, both of whom had returned from loan spells in the Championship.

Lampard and Chelsea suffered a 4-0 humiliation at Old Trafford on the opening day of the season, and it was clear that Chelsea’s transfer embargo would take its toll on Lampard’s capabilities to deliver results.

They soon got up and running, winning 8 of their opening 12 Premier League games, including a run of 6 successive wins. Chelsea managed to stay inside the top 4 for the bulk of the season, despite winning 2 games out of 8 after Christmas. Following lockdown, the Blues won 4 of their opening 5 fixtures and looked on course for UEFA Champions League qualification. Chelsea held on to qualify, finishing in 4th place – level on 66 PTS with Man Utd in 3rd.

In the Champions League, Lampard’s men lost their opening group game at home to Valencia. That proved to be their only defeat as they went on to collect 11 points from their 5 remaining games, including an 8-goal thriller vs Ajax which saw Hakim Ziyech bag two assists for the Dutch side in a 4-4 stalemate.

Chelsea did enough to qualify for the knockout stage, where they came up against reigning Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich. The Bavarians put on a show in London, completely outdoing Chelsea’s defence to claim a 3-0 advantage heading into the second leg in Germany.

Chelsea were particularly impressive in the FA Cup. On their way to reaching a 14th final they knocked out Liverpool, Leicester City and Manchester United in successive rounds. An FA Cup title would be massive for Lampard, who could definitely do with a winner’s medal to cap off a respectable first season behind the manager’s desk at the Bridge.

Should Chelsea beat Arsenal to the FA Cup, their new recruits Ziyech and Timo Werner could don the blue jersey for the first time as soon as August 30, where they would face Liverpool in the FA Community Shield.

Lampard and Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich have already conducted smart transfer business heading into the new season, with the additions of Werner and Ziyech from RB Leipzig and Ajax Amsterdam, and are also looking a likely destination for German sensation Kai Havertz.

Having been unable to buy new players last year, Chelsea have now attracted serious talent to the club – especially at a time when other clubs may have begun to underperform economically due to the global pandemic. Chelsea also received a heavy lump sum for the transfer of Eden Hazard to Real Madrid.

The Blues will undoubtedly also want to bolster their options at the back, and it is probable that they will look at signing a defender (or two). Chelsea have been linked with moves for Leicester’s Ben Chilwell and West Ham’s Declan Rice.

As for outgoing transfers, Lampard will be looking to ship out those not part of his plans. Willian and Pedro are both out of contract beyond Chelsea’s UCL encounter in Munich. With home-grown talents Billy Gilmour and Ruben Loftus-Cheek in the picture, it would not come as a surprise if Jorginho returned to the Serie A during the window. With Timo Werner joining, Michy Batshuayi is falling further down the pecking order at Stamford Bridge and may depart during the window.

There is a big question mark over Kepa Arrizabalaga’s status in South London. The 25-year-old signed for Chelsea in 2018, for a record fee for a goalie – costing €80M. Kepa has found himself the butt of several slip-ups between the sticks. Kepa was dropped for the final league game of the season and it is unlikely that the Spanish goalkeeper will return in the FA Cup final nor the reverse UCL tie.

Still under contract until 2025, a loan move for Kepa could very well be on the cards. Suitable replacements: Andre Onana (Ajax); Nick Pope (Burnley); Gigi Donnarumma (AC Milan).

Lampard looks set on building his Chelsea empire and will want to have a title challenge next season; he could become the first English manager to win the Premier League. Having played under some top managers himself, and boasting an IQ of 150, it is fair to say that Big Frank is well on his way to achieving heaps of success as a football manager.

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