In another episode of The Chelsea Spot Podcast, Dan (Host – @DanBarkerCoach) is joined by Paree (Owner- @CFCParee) & Danny (Writer – @danny_new_) to discuss Chelsea’s 7-0 incredible victory against Norwich with a Mason Mount man of the match performance, Hudson-Odoi and Reece James goal, Chilwell screamer, Loftus-Cheek assist and so much more on a great day for Cobham!
We’ve won a trophy already, find ourselves top of the Premier League 8 games in and still remain in all competitions. There should be nothing to complain about, right? Wrong. With Chelsea, there’s pretty much always something to complain about, except this time it’s quite an important topic. The big question at the moment is whether our current way of playing is sustainable enough to win the title this season, and I strongly believe there is a link between this question and switching to four at the back, so I will discuss both matters in this piece.
As everyone will know by now, things at Chelsea change very very quickly. Last season on the December 5th we beat Leeds 3-1 at Stamford Bridge to take us to the top of the league, but in less than two months Frank Lampard found himself sacked from the job and Thomas Tuchel came in to replace him who went on to win the Champions League.
We could very much be in a similar position in 2-3 games’ time, with us definitely being the favourites for our next few Premier League fixtures against Norwich, Newcastle and Burnley. I’m not saying Tuchel is going to get sacked in two months and I definitely do not want anything like that to happen either, but we as fans genuinely shouldn’t rule out the possibility of something mad happening because a quick switch in mood around the camp due to a few losses can change everything.
The tiny chance of that happening is certainly based upon the fact that we’re top of the League, except we almost definitely shouldn’t be looking at the stats. Although, as I argued in the latest podcast episode, I don’t think it’s been anywhere near as bad as some people have made out and that the eye test and context is more important in this case.
Without doubt, especially in some games, we are overperforming. The stats quite simply support that. If you watched the game vs Brentford, you could see that we deserved to lose and that Mendy saved us big time, as he has done quite a few times this season – his shot save percentage so far is 96% while no other goalkeeper’s percentage in the League is higher than 83%. Our expected goals conceded is 10.1, and we have only conceded 3. That is truly remarkable and is credit to some incredible goalkeeping and defending at times. However, as you can see with Brighton finally cashing in on their xG and currently finding themselves in the top 4, the stats do normally catch up and it would suggest the method of defending to a high level and relying on individual attacking quality isn’t sustainable in the long run. And if you don’t think that’s the way we play, then you’re just wrong to be honest, and Andreas Christensen would also disagree with you:
“We are by no means a defensive team but we know that if we get that right we have a big chance of winning games with the quality we have up front. Not conceding is where we start and then we must score goals.”
However, this is where I have disagreed with most. I’d say the game against Brentford was a bit of an exception, and personally was the only one where we’ve won and I’ve felt that we’ve completely deserved to lose. If the performance against Brentford was happening on a regular basis, then I would totally agree that there would be no way we would win the League this season, but I simply don’t think that has been the case. Looking at our results: we weren’t amazing against Crystal Palace, but we fully deserved to win; Arsenal was a comfortable victory and we played some great football; Liverpool we played decently in the first half and due to the unfortunate red card we had to defend brilliantly in the second half which led to a fair result; Aston Villa was a game which we maybe could’ve conceded one or two in, but some great defending meant we were fine and our third goal should summarise the football we played that game; Tottenham we won with ease despite the shaky first half; Southampton they really only had one huge chance which was the pen given away and other than that we dominated especially when Mason came on, and Brentford we have talked about.
I think there’s a lot of context to the Brentford game which isn’t being mentioned, and also to why our football hasn’t been the best this season. This game was straight after the international break where players would have been both physically and mentally tired, so important players were left on the bench and the lineup was mostly made up of players who had been at Cobham the previous two weeks. I mean, this could literally be seen by us starting Malang Sarr in a Premier League game, who in general did have a solid game but in the last 20 minutes was the main culprit for a lot of their big chances. We were trying out a new style of play with the 3-5-2 formation, and we as fans in our minds should be treating Brentford as a top 6 team and see the result as a huge positive. I do wonder whether under previous Chelsea managers that result and performance would have been deemed as a sign of a ‘title challenging squad.’ I’d argue that under Sarri, Lampard and even Tuchel last season we would have crumbled very quickly with the heavy pressure they were putting us under (4-0 loss to Bournemouth, 3-0 loss to Sheffield United and 5-2 loss to West Brom all coming to mind…)
And with the rest of the season, one small but very simple reason which I’m sure is a big factor to the way we’re playing is that we haven’t played our best line-up for most of the games. Our most important player in Mason Mount, has missed quite a few games due to injury or controlling his fitness levels due to playing so much last season, and our wingbacks are so important to the system yet we haven’t seen our best ones start together yet. It’s vital with our formation that our wingbacks are able to get forward and offer some threat, so when opposition teams see Marcos Alonso and Azpilicueta out wide they will be much less afraid than if it was Ben Chilwell and Reece James. Hopefully, if all three can start getting into the team regularly, we’ll see a huge improvement in the way we play.
Another thing is that our issues have changed over the last two seasons. Under Lampard, we were creating many chances but not being clinical. Under Tuchel, we have struggled to create chances: 2nd highest in the League last season in ‘Shot Creating Actions per 90’ compared to 6th highest now. Yes, it’s a small sample size, but unless there is a change in tactics or style I can’t see that drastically changing. Even last season was a struggle with this formation with us finding it very difficult to break down the ‘worse’ teams and just off the top of my head I can remember many frustrating games where we dropped points: West Brom, Aston Villa, Leeds, Southampton and I’m sure there are many more. This season, those issues pretty much remain, and it’s arguably got worse. In the last few games, it looks like we have decided to sit a bit deeper and almost try and invite other teams onto us to stop them from sitting too deep, which has meant we are playing a bit more on the counter which could be one of the reasons for Timo Werner’s sudden introduction back into the team. Although one of his best qualities is creating space for other people and he did have a pretty decent game against Brentford, he is creatively nothing compared to the likes of Mason Mount, Hudson-Odoi and even Hakim Ziyech when he’s up for it. And, this is a huge problem because at the moment pretty much none of our attackers are on form (or being given the chance to play in their real position…) which simply means our only creative outlets have completely gone, and it’s the big reason for Romelu Lukaku’s struggles in the last few games.
It is very simple – if you think our current problems lie with Lukaku then you are wrong. Put any other striker in this team, and they are struggling just like he is. Yup, any striker in the whole world. There is literally no service to him – it’s so simple to see. First of all, we’re creating roughly one proper chance for him per game and no striker in the world should be expected to score each of these because that’s pretty much impossible. He needs chances to get into games and test the keeper, except he’s getting barely any of that right now. Secondly, I really don’t think we’re playing to his strengths, as Antonio Conte stated a few weeks ago. We’ve started to use him as a target man when that should only be used once or twice in the game when we’re under pressure, except that’s becoming a common occurrence so we may as well have just bought Akinfenwa. If you watch Belgium and the way he plays for his country: he’s out wide, interchanging with De Bruyne and Hazard, running down the wing, shrugging off defenders – like his debut against Arsenal except that’s the way he plays consistently. We have barely seen that for the Blues.
“He always has to be played, but at Chelsea they don’t quite understand how to use him. If they understand, Chelsea will become the team to beat.”
Obviously, he’s a top striker so give him chances and he’ll score most of them. In the Premier League, he’s only got an xG of 3.68 which is 6th highest in the League, and for one of the best forwards in the world who we’ve signed for 97 million pounds, you’d want and expect some better service for him. We need to find more ways to be creative for him – whether that’s crossing it from Reece James a lot more which we haven’t seen too much, or trying to get other players to link up with him well. As Tuchel has said, most of the players have struggled to do that apart from Mason and Mateo Kovacic so hopefully that can improve as they continue to play many games with each other.
Loftus-Cheek’s introduction into the team completely changes things though. He has replaced Jorginho in midfield and is sitting the deepest out of the three… and has looked entirely comfortable. He’s done the exact same passing, exact same ‘dictating the tempo’, and instead of escaping the pressure via passing backwards or sideways or the occasional in between the lines pass to Mason, he’s simply dribbled past their whole midfield. A bit similar to the kind of things Kovacic does, but from a much deeper role and his height, physicality, defensive abilities and end product if pushed higher up the pitch probably makes him a preferred option to the Croatian too. Personally, I just think the manager would prefer someone of Ruben’s physique who does everything which Jorginho does if not better in the attack. Imagine you’re one of the wingbacks. Would you prefer receiving the ball at a pretty slow pace deep into your own half leaving you with the two options of going backwards or having to go past the opposition team, or would you prefer receiving the ball higher up the pitch at pace when most of the team has been beaten? There’s only one option for me. Hopefully, this means that the wingbacks can create a few more chances and I’m really interested to see how we play when Reece, Chilwell, Mount and RLC all start together.
Into the second part of the article which as writing I’m going to keep very short and sweet due to Tom writing a piece on it the other day: the form of Loftus-Cheek certainly opens up the opportunity to play 4 at the back temporarily. I’m of strong belief that no manager needs to have a Plan B, except that for this Chelsea squad it makes perfect sense to play 4 at the back when we’re drawing in the 60th minute or in certain cup games. Personally our best football this season has come in a weakened team against Aston Villa in the Carabao Cup, where Reece was playing both inside and out wide changing the formation to four at the back at times. Most of our players improve so much when we play four at the back, and it just feels like we play so negatively at times to cover up a certain midfield duo (your words not mine). Chilwell and James go back to their natural positions, so do Hudson-Odoi, Ziyech and Pulisic. Mason Mount returns to play his best football as an 8, Loftus-Cheek is able to attack more, Kante has more freedom in midfield and most importantly more chances are created for our world class striker Romelu. Tuchel’s press conference ahead of the Malmo game was certainly pretty convincing in that they are potentially looking at changing formations to create more chances for the attackers, but it just seems like we have been crying out for this for weeks.
“One solution could be to change formation, put more offensive players. Let’s see.”
Yes, it does create weaknesses in other places in our team which is the big reason we’re playing 3 at the back right now. But, I do think the positives in creating more chances and putting more players in their natural position is larger than the negatives of not having a natural defensive midfielder and having a slightly shaky defender next to Thiago Silva. And, like I said before, this isn’t something which should be chucked in from the start, but more used as ‘emergency’ and if things aren’t going well, which you could argue is on it’s way if things don’t improve.
Do you think we’re playing at a sustainable level? Do you think we should have 4 at the back as a backup formation? Let us know on our social media platforms!
In another episode of The Chelsea Spot Podcast, Dan (Host – @DanBarkerCoach) is joined by Paree (Owner- @CFCParee) & Sairam (Writer – @ftblsairam) to discuss how Chelsea somehow won against Brentford with a world class goalkeeping performance. Talking about brocolli on pizza, Loftus-Cheek showing Jorginho how it’s done, the possibility of going to a four at the back and so much more!
In another episode of The Chelsea Spot Podcast, Paree (Host – @CFCParee) is joined by Tom (Writer – @tmdftbl) & special guest Matt Selley (Guest – @matty_selley) to discuss all things Chelsea! Talking about how he became a Chelsea fan, his idols growing up, his current favoured lineup, Ruben Loftus-Cheek’s remarkable return, watching the women’s team and so much more!
Dujon Sterling has agreed a new contract with Chelsea and is set to join Championship side Blackpool on loan for the remainder of the season.
Sterling will sign a new two-year contract at Chelsea that includes the option for another year.
Sterling was intent on staying at Chelsea but due to an influx of defenders at the club, the decision to get regular game time in the Championship became a good option. (Adam Newson)
Blackpool sit 22nd in the Championship and Sterling’s ability to play a number of positions on the right hand side will be good for them.
Borussia Dortmund want to sign Callum Hudson-Odoi on loan and have not been put off by Thomas Tuchel’s insistence that Chelsea intend to keep the winger this summer.
Callum is open to joining Dortmund on loan before the transfer window shuts on Tuesday. The 20-year-old wants more opportunities to showcase his talent and is waiting to see whether the Bundesliga club firm up their interest.
Hudson-Odoi’s long-term preference would be to prove himself at Chelsea after rising through the club’s academy.
There is a growing acceptance, however, that he needs to play regularly and he could benefit from spending the campaign at Dortmund, whose new manager, Marco Rose, has a reputation for attacking football. (The Guardian)
There is a possibly that Napoli could make a late attempt to sign Loftus-Cheek. (Corriere dello sport)
The announcement of Bakayoko to AC Milan is expcted to be announced in the next few days.
He has completed a medical today and will join Milan on a two-year loan.
Chelsea’s young player of the year is expected to sign for Southampton on a permanent deal in the next few days.
Livramento will sign a five-year contract with Southampton and Chelsea will receive £5m for the Englishman. (DailyMail)
Brighton were expected to sign Livramento but Matt Crocker who knows Tino Livramento from his time at England have provided Tino and his representatives a clear plan for his pathway. (TheSecretScout)
Leipzig, AC Milan, Aston Villa and Brighton were all interested in Livramento but the plan set out by Southampton to get Livramento to the first team has persuaded him to join them.
There is a buy-back clause and sell on fee included in the deal. Brighton did not want to include the buy-back clause which led to the breakdown in negotiations.
The buy-back clause is rumoured to be around the £25m mark.
Zouma is West Ham’s primary target and it is thought the Frenchman is very open to a move to the London Stadium.
The difficulty lies in the valuation – with Chelsea thought to want in the region of £25m – and Zouma’s wages.
If a deal cannot be struck, the 26-year-old is happy to remain at Chelsea where he has a contract that runs until 2023. (SkySports)
Hakim Ziyech, who could leave Chelsea towards the end of this month, is perhaps the most interesting profile. AC Milan like the player a lot and will certainly make an attempt, but it’s not known if the English side will accept a loan. (SempreMilan)
Eduardo Camavinga is in no hurry to decide on his next club.
To buy Camavinga this summer it would cost €35m/€40m.
For this summer, there is no chance to sign Robert Lewandowski for Chelsea. (Fabrizio Romano)
Inter define Romelu Lukaku as non-transferable and untouchable, another very complicated affair. (Fabrizio Romano)
Chelsea’s dream remains Erling Haaland, but from Borussia Dortmund the club’s version is clear: there is no offer on the table, not even an official approach. It will take madness to sell Haaland, not even €150million would be accepted. (Fabrizio Romano)
Chelsea are looking into sending Ruben Loftus-Cheek to Germany’s Bundesliga to get his career back on track. There is ‘plenty of interest’ from the Premier League including Southampton. (Alan Nixon)
Lyon are interested in signing Italy international Emerson Palmieri, having made an enquiry for the Chelsea man. (GFFN)
It’s almost time for some of the most exciting and frustrating hours in world football – transfer deadline day. Chelsea are normally heavily involved, with the likes of David Luiz, Ashley Cole and Fernando Torres all previously joining us on the last day of a two month long window.
This time though, it seems as if Chelsea have done their business early. Hakim Ziyech was brought in as early as February, with Timo Werner joining us only a few months later, who was then followed by Ben Chilwell, Kai Havertz, Thiago Silva, Edouard Mendy and Malang Saar. 7 signings – you’d think that’s Chelsea’s transfer window done.
Wrong. Well, at least that’s what it seems like. There is a lot of business to be done with outgoings and trimming our squad down, and there also seems to be a chance that we could still bring in a defensive midfielder. All I’ll recommend is having Sky Sports News on for the next day, because it’s going to get thrilling. In this article, I’ll talk about the likelihood and my opinion of possible incomings and departures…. let’s get started!
Hudson-Odoi is a player who gets linked away every single window. This time though, it’s quite serious. Rumours started to rise after being the only fit natural winger against Brighton and Liverpool, yet finding himself on the bench. Frank Lampard is adamant on wanting to keep Callum at the club, and he also wants to stay. However, it’s the board which wouldn’t mind him leaving, as although they rejected a loan bid with an option to buy for £70m from Bayern Munich, it has been heavily reported that Chelsea could accept an important bid if there was an obligation to buy, which probably should worry Chelsea fans and it brings up many questions as to why the club are even thinking of selling one of the brightest talents the academy has ever produced. If I was to give my own opinion, I really can’t see this complicated deal happening as it would need time and that’s not available. Frank wants to keep him. He loves the club and wants to stay. So surely he remains a blue?
It’s definitely a very interesting situation with Loftus-Cheek, and I’m at the point where I cannot stop feeling disappointed with how his career has gone. On his day, at full fitness, he is genuinely in my opinion the best player at this club. But, his 13 month injury was another one added to the list, and every day we just pray he can get back to full fitness quickly. Under Lampard will he be able to get to full fitness? Probably not. His appearance against Brighton was certainly underwhelming, and since then hasn’t been involved in any of the Chelsea matchday squads, suggesting his departure on loan is coming. Out of nowhere, Ross Barkley went on loan to Aston Villa, meaning Chelsea have had to rethink about what to do with Ruben. On current form, he has Jorginho, Kante, Kovacic, Mount and Havertz all as options in front of him in midfield, and he couldn’t even get a minute in the Carabao Cup. As much as it pains to type, he needs to play at the age of 24 and he simply won’t get that at Chelsea. Whether he can finalise a loan move to another club is anothing thing, but there is a lot of interest in the England international and keep an eye on whether the club can send him out on loan despite his high wages…
Marcos Alonso & Emerson
I’m writing these two players in one, as for me only one of them is going to depart in this transfer window, with it likely being the Spaniard. Marcos Alonso’s return to Inter always seemed an option after simply not being good enough in a fullback role, and him leaving the club looks even more likely after his row with Frank Lampard after the game against West Brom, where he decided to watch the second half in the team bus instead of supporting the team from the sidelines. Emerson meanwhile almost looked guaranteed to leave to an Italian club, but when played this season, he actually looked impressive, whether that was at left-back or even at right-wing! The possiblity of both of them leaving is low as although Azpilicueta can easily cover both sides, Frank would feel much more comfortable with two fullbacks on each side of the pitch. Personally, a deadline day loan deal for Marcos to Inter will be done, although it’s important to keep an eye on the Brazilian’s situation too.
Tiemoue Bakayoko & Danny Drinkwater
Again, I put these two players together, not because it’s either one though, but more to show how easy it is for clubs to waste money. Bakayoko and Drinkwater cost us just under the price of Ziyech and Werner combined – put that into perspective. The Chelsea Spot had actually heard that there was a chance Bakayoko could stay at Chelsea if we desperately needed him, although a move did always seem the most likely option. For months and months he had been linked with top clubs including AC Milan, Napoli, PSG and more. And it looks like he’s finalising his deal to Naples in the next few hours… good luck to him!
Regarding one of our worst signings in history, I actually have no idea what’s going on with him. While writing this, I’ve also just remembered about Victor Moses who I think is still here! I’m guessing both are doing fitness work at the club, but I haven’t read a single report of either player leaving. We probably should try and get them off our wages and out of Cobham.
I mean, you have to feel bad for the German international, right? #AgentRudi was heavily involved in bringing Havertz and Werner to the best club in London, and then two months later is being completely isolated from the squad and Lampard’s plans. For me there is no doubt he is our worst centre-half at the club, but he does bring something to the dressing room and is also a great character, so I’m sure we will miss his presence more than his footballing abilites. Rudiger has not played a single minute so far for Frank this season, and his first choice is a move to Spurs, yet Chelsea are only going to let him move to our rival clubs if he signs a contract extension here before moving on loan. Napoli and Barcelona have also shown previous interest in the defender, but he’s a player who will almost guaranteed be leaving, so keep an eye on him.
Jorginho, Declan Rice & Thomas Partey
I’ve put all these three midfielders together because any involvement from any client will all be related to at least one other person in this list. Jorginho was incredible against Crystal Palace yesterday, but despite that performance I think his Chelsea career could be in danger soon, with Lampard wanting a more traditinonal 6 to protect the back four like a Declan Rice, or a 6 who can play next to Kante like a Thomas Partey, allowing Havertz to play as a 10 in front of them. Jorginho has heavy interest from Arsenal and Arteta is very interested in taking him on loan to join his fellow ex teammates in David Luiz and Willian, but Chelsea will still be slightly reluctact to be helping out a rival team. I think the plan for him is he will stay this window unless we sign a CDM in the next day, which Lampard still does want. The options at the moment seem to be either Rice, or Partey. Rice wants to join Chelsea, Chelsea desperately want Rice, and The Chelsea Spot understand that the deal is quite likely to happen one day, whether that is now or in the future transfer windows. But at the moment it seems like West Ham are holding their ground and refusing to sell him. Could anything change in the last 24 hours? Of course, and I’d be very surprised if a Chelsea bid didn’t go in to unsettle the West Ham board, but whether it can be done in 36 hours is the main hurdle. With Thomas Partey the deal would be much quicker as he has a release clause of £45 million, and he’s a player who Chelsea have scouted for quite some time now. All in all, if we’re going to sign one more player, it’ll be Partey or Rice, which will probably result in Jorginho leaving. All to watch for….
Sarr, McEachran & Castillo
The final three players to discuss, and they’re in the same paragraph as you most likely forgot about them! Sarr somehow isn’t on loan by now, after he had many discussions with Bayer Leverkusen and also Rennes where Chelsea used his as compensation for the Havertz and Mendy deals respectively. With only a day to go, nothing much has happened, and he does need to get his game-time as that was the whole reason we signed him on a free deal, in hope that he can develop and become a top quality centre-half in the future. He really should be going on loan soon.
George McEachran needs to experience first team football after being in the youth team for too long in my opinion, and even if that means he has to go to a low English league and work his way up, so be it. The technical midfielder struggled last season on loan in the Dutch second division, and he’s at the age where he needs to just get gametime and kick on with his career, as he certainly does have the potential in his boots.
Juan Castillo was at Ajax Jong last season and was set to sign for them this Summer, yet there were drastic last minute changes and he has found himself back in the Chelsea setup this season. It’s likely he’ll still move on loan again this season to get some more gametime, and who knows, could push into that Chelsea first team and challenge with Ian Maatsen.
I think I’ve covered all the players now…. if you want to find out updates on these players and how their moves are progressing, simply follow us on all our social media platforms!
Are there any players think have a higher/lower chance of leaving than what I said? Just let me know on my personal Twitter platform.
Chelsea have been the talk of the football world this summer following an extremely ambitious, decisive period of transfer signings. Over the past calendar year, the club welcomed Mateo Kovacic and Christian Pulisic to the fold permanently, and followed that up with Hakim Ziyech putting pen to paper in the late winter just 3 months after THAT comeback against Ziyech’s Ajax. Of course, Frank Lampard and Co. then kicked off summer with a bang, bringing Timo Werner aboard and in recent weeks finishing off long-rumoured signings Ben Chilwell and Kai Havertz as well as a cheeky Thiago Silva stop along the way. The club were put in a position to bring these players in however due to the impressive form of a handful of academy debutants, who played a major part in a 4th place finish. That was just the tip of the academy iceberg though, as this offseason we welcomed back another handful of young players loaned off to the far stretches of Europe. Can they have a similar impact to their counterparts and take Chelsea even further this year?
It’s no secret that Chelsea’s 2019-2020 campaign was impressive, but at the same time it was also unimpressive. The team regularly lacked a central defender with either positional awareness, aerial ability, the ability to actually make a tackle or all three – arguably bar Kurt Zouma. With Antonio Rudiger’s football agent talents on full display this summer, he is sure to have added another year onto his Chelsea lifeline at the very least despite the number of ghastly high profile errors he made last season. However, Rudiger’s friends Timo Werner and Kai Havertz aren’t the only talents coming from the Bundesliga to Chelsea.
Enter Ethan Ampadu, who for the third consecutive offseason has been pegged by Chelsea fans as a potential breakout star in defence and in midfield. This time however, Ampadu has yet again found himself out on loan, this season at Sheffield United with manager Chris Wilder running the show. Besides Ethan Ampadu in defence, returning are Jake Clarke-Salter and Matt Miazga. Who? The soon-23 year old and 25 year old center halves each made their senior debut in that 2015-16 season under Guus Hiddink, and only Miazga played in any senior Chelsea match since then (just one additional appearance). With 3 senior Chelsea appearances between them in 4 seasons, it’s probably a make or break time as the Loan Army XI is going to be welcoming some new faces. Miazga filled in for Cahill and Terry pretty admirably for a then 20 year old from the MLS, and Terry pegged the younger Clarke-Salter as his potential replacement and also remarked that he was a vocal player. While that could still happen, Clarke-Salter is now buried behind Zouma, Silva, Rudiger, Andreas Christensen and even Fikayo Tomori.
In addition to our defensive struggles, Frank Lampard has also had to battle with inconsistency in the midfield from time to time. With some ho-hum impact-less performances from Jorginho and N’golo Kante either injured or at times giving his best headless chicken, the base of the midfield is in a tepid situation at best. With this summer bringing about Declan Rice rumors, West Ham have been sure to protect their young star with a hefty rumored £80 million price tag. While Rice is a promising midfielder with the versatility to play at the back as well as the intangibles of a captain, the price tag does not suit a team who have already spent a fortune since the late winter while upgrading the team much more than Rice ever would. Chelsea might have better luck trying out other local options, which include the returning Tiemoue Bakayoko and Conor Gallagher, injury prone Ruben Loftus-Cheek or the recovering Billy Gilmour as understudies to either Kante or Jorginho. It seems highly unlikely that Frank Lampard would trust young midfielders to command the base of the midfield in such a promising and high pressure second season at Chelsea, although Conor Gallagher does have much more experience than the higher regarded Gilmour. Bakayoko isn’t a sexy option by any means and hasn’t always looked the part in a Chelsea shirt but hasn’t really played under tactics that fit his style. And, when comparing his 16/17 metrics to Rice’s 19/20, there isn’t a whole lot that separates the two. With the addition of Kai Havertz, a pivot of a more disciplined and refined Bakayoko and a healthy Kante could still be devastating to play against. With a move to Milan on the cards, he might not be seen in a Chelsea shirt again but I maintain that he’s at least worth a shot if he stays with us longer than anticipated. Additionally, Ruben Loftus-Cheek is more known for his power and offensive prowess, but giving him a try at the base of a midfield with some coaching might be a good move for him at this stage in his career in a bid to stay healthy and still play. The oft-injured midfielder would bring size and more technical ability than Kante and Jorginho combined and perhaps give Chelsea a little more kick in the final third, as well as someone who can win in the air and on the ground.
It’s been an exciting and also unnerving period for us fans after all the transfers and newly lofted expectations along with the uncertainty of some of the others on the current squad. However, it’s important to remember that even the greatest managers, such as our own Special One, and some of the greatest sides ever, never won without a little bit of experimentation along the way.
Chelsea have already confirmed the signings of Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech and are expected to have a busy transfer window with the club looking to offload a number of squad players.
But where do the new signings rank amongst the squad? Who should be starting every week? Who needs to be sold?
Well, here’s my rankings from “Star player” down to “Must be sold”
As you can see, the list is quite ‘bottom heavy’ with a large number of players thrown into the must be sold category. The likes of Bakayoko, Batshuayi and Pedro feature as they look destined to be moved on by the club and I doubt many Chelsea fans would disagree. There are, however, some admittedly controversial picks in this tier.
Jorginho is a player who has drastically divided the fanbase ever since he signed for the club in 2018. Since the restart, Jorginho has been out-of-favour and Chelsea managed to win four out of the five league games in which the Italian midfielder didn’t start, scoring an impressive 12 goals in the process. Due to injuries to both N’Golo Kanté and Billy Gilmour, Lampard was forced to hand Jorginho his first start against Sheffield United and The Blues were thumped 3-0 with many describing the performance as the “worst of the season” and Jorginho faced the brunt of the criticism due to a lacklustre display. Despite beating Norwich 1-0, Chelsea put in another fairly disappointing display which lacked urgency, tempo and attacking quality. Yet again, Jorginho started this game and for me, he’s a big part of the problem.
I personally don’t dislike Antonio Rudiger as much as most Chelsea fans seem to. I think he does offer some leadership and certainly has a physical presence which most of his peers lack, however if I’m being completely honest (and harsh) he simply cannot defend.
He’s a central defender… who can’t defend!
So, not only do I think Rudiger should be moved on but I also believe his calamitous partner Andreas Christensen has had more than enough chances at the club. These two are an actual comedy spectacle when they line up next to each other and while Andreas is still young and could improve, I just don’t think he’s suited to be a Premier League centre-half. Although he’s welcome to prove me wrong!
Finally from the bottom tier, Kepa has to be sold. I’ve never witnessed a goalkeeper at the top level struggle to stop shots so badly. The club are reportedly interested in Jan Oblak and Andre Onana, both of whom would massively improve our squad, so Arrizabalaga has to go.
Just as a caveat, Willian has been included in the ‘must be sold’ category solely based on his contract situation, otherwise I’d be happy for him to stick around for a year as a squad player.
The boys in the ‘loan’ list are fairly self explanatory. The teenage lads from the academy could do with a season on loan in the Championship or even League 1 to get acclimated with senior football. I’ve chucked Kenedy in there too just because I think he’s hugely underrated so I’d like the club to keep him on the books, but it looks likely that he’ll be leaving on a permanent basis.
The squad players section was fairly easy for me. Not all 23 first-teamers can be ‘world class’ (unless you’re Manchester City) so we need a solid bench consisting of players who can come into the squad when needed and make an impact. Players who “offer something different” are key throughout a squad and the likes of Olivier Giroud,Ross Barkley and Marcos Alonso all tick that box. Giroud has proven his value since the restart and is still a goal threat, while Barkley has actually impressed at times throughout the season and by all accounts works extremely hard to improve himself. The reason I’d keep Alonso around is because he gives us the option to switch to a three-at-the-back system whereas Emerson, for me, just offers very little.
There’s absolutely no reason why both Billy Gilmour and Tammy Abraham cannot be starters next season. They both have the quality as they have proven already, but due the signing of Timo Werner and Lampard moving Kanté into a deeper role, I think that they may not be nailed on to start week-in week-out next year but both will certainly play a crucial role in the long-term.
The regular starters that I’ve selected are a perfect blend of youth and experience in my opinion. Azpilicueta has proven to still be a quality captain and player throughout the season and I believe that Frank Lampard is a big fan of the spaniard, Reece James is also battling for the same position though and deserves to be a starter so we may see ‘Dave’ continue to feature as a left-back. However, if we do sign Tagliafico, Telles, Chilwell or whoever it may be then that could knock one of Azpilicueta or James down a tier.
It’s pretty much impossible to fit all of Kovacic, Mount and Loftus-Cheek into one starting eleven but all three players offer different skill sets which are incredibly valuable to this Chelsea side. Mason Mount has been the club’s player of the season for me, his quality both on and off the ball is outstanding and to have contributed so much in his debut Premier League season is hugely impressive. He’s absolutely key to Frank’s system and therefore should and will start the majority of games next season wether we sign Havertz or not.
I honestly believe that a fully fit Ruben Loftus-Cheek is one of the best players in the Premier League. He’s the definition of ‘complete midfielder’ and can offer both a goal threat and be a creative outlet. His physical strength combined with immense technical ability when in full flight makes him a defender’s nightmare and if he can get back to his best next season then he has to be a starter.
Fikayo Tomori and Callum Hudson-Odoi have both suffered injury problems as of late but are two of England’s brightest talents. Zouma and Tomori’s partnership in the first half of the season was far from perfect but was certainly the most encouraging central defensive set-up we’ve seen. Chelsea fans rightly love Hudson-Odoi and despite all of his off-the-pitch issues this season he has the quality to set the standard for young Premier League players next season.
Werner, Ziyech, Pulisic, Kantè. Is that the best “big four” since the Warriors lined up with Curry, Thompson, Draymond and KD?
Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech are nailed on to be top, top players next season for Chelsea. They’re two of the most dynamic and exciting players in the Premier League and will improve Chelsea’s already strong attack ten-fold. Christian Pulisic’s form since the restart has all Blues fans convinced that he’s the real deal, adding goals to his game and beginning to remind fans of a certain Eden Hazard due to his immense dribbling ability. N’Golo Kanté’s inclusion as a star player needs no justification, despite injury issues this year he’s clearly a world class player who would start for any and every team in Europe.
So, that’s my personal ranking of next season’s Chelsea squad. Do you agree? Disagree? Let us know @TheChelseaSpot
*I (stupidly) forgot to include Ethan Ampadu in this tier list. Personally I’d like to see him as a squad player next season but he could benefit from another loan.
Questions have been flying around on social media over what happens to the midfield next year: Who’s starting? Who’s going to be left out? Who should we sell? Well, in this article, I try and answer all of the questions. The key word there is ‘try’, because if I’m being totally honest, we don’t have a clue what Frank Lampard is going to do.
Let’s have a look at the midfield. In the midfield for next season, we have a hugely talented list: Kovacic, Kante, Jorginho, Mount, Loftus-Cheek, Ziyech, Barkley, Gilmour, Ampadu, Gallagher and Anjorin. Eleven midfielders who Frank has to somehow entertain, whether that is on loan or kept, or even to be sold. Let’s go through each player…
Kovacic. Most people would say this season’s best player for Chelsea. He has just been outstanding, and his progress from Sarri to Lampard has been unbelievable to watch. We can always rely on the Croatian midfielder, with him even picking up a few goals, something which Chelsea fans never thought they would see. He’s guaranteed to stay next season and should be starting almost every single game.
Kante. The French midfielder has struggled this season especially with injuries, and this has led to many Chelsea fans debating whether it could be worth trying to cash out in the Summer. There is no doubt he has got tons of talent and on his day is one of the best midfielders in the world, but at the age of 29, he may be coming towards the latter stages of his career. I assume that he will still be here next season, but we never know what the board will do.
Jorginho. Another very difficult situation with the Italian. He has turned the fans’ perspective of himself in just a season, with boos turning into cheers. However, despite improving in the Premier League this season, he has still struggled a bit and hasn’t managed to hit the form which he struck at the beginning of the season. With being a vocal leader on and off the pitch, as well as taking the vice-captaincy role, I assume he will also stay next season at Chelsea.
Mount. The English midfielder has certainly had ups and downs this season, showing impressive signs for a first season in the English First Division. His form dipped after playing many games through injury and having a long wait for a goal, but he managed to get through the season and started to regain his best form after the international break. He is definitely going nowhere this season.
Loftus-Cheek. Unfortunately, Ruben was just getting back into the groove with training, but didn’t manage to get an appearance for the first team this season. His injury problems are something to keep an eye on, with him hitting the age of 24 with only 70 Premier League appearances under his belt. I certainly would keep him, as he’s such a talented player, and Lampard surely can’t wait to include him into the squad as one of the more experienced players.
Ziyech. Our new Moroccan signing is someone who Chelsea fans cannot wait to see play at the Bridge, but his debut may be delayed as we currently do not know what is going to happen with the COVID situation. We are also unaware whether he has been signed to play on the wing or in the midfield, but his versitality is something we will enjoy. Obviously, he’ll be here next season, and we cannot wait to see him play in the Blue shirt.
We’re already six midfielders in, and personally I feel that they will all stay at the club. The average club keeps aroudn 6-7 midfielders, so these next few choices will be very interesting…
Barkley. Ross has certainly had more downs than ups this season, with off the pitch mentality certainly causing problems in the media. However, Lampard has praised his hard-work in the last few months and is a big fan of the English midfielder. He is one who certainly has the talent, yet is so frustrating because we only see this talent a couple times a season. I love the player, but personally for me, it’ll be time to say goodbye.
Gilmour. The Scottish Iniesta, as they say. Recently impressing the world with two Man of the Match Performances in a row against Liverpool and Everton, he certainly will be here next season. The perfect young player to have, who can play almost anywhere in the midfield, as well as having the mentality and ability to go right to the very top.
Ampadu. The Welshman has received little game time at his loan spell in Germany, leaving many Chelsea fans disapppointed. However, he definitely would have learnt many new skills with top players around him, and we all know the immense talent he has. For me, he is one who should stay at the club and we would have seen a real improvement in his game, showing glimpses of what he can be with his Champions League performance against Spurs.
Gallagher. Conor is a player who I have doubted many times over the last few seasons, and was shocked to see him pick up the Player of the Season for the academy last year. However, he has proved me completely wrong, and shown huge signs at both Charlton and Swansea. Saying that, I would still try and send him on loan to a Premier League club next season where he can get some proper experience, especially as he may struggle to break into the Chelsea first team next season.
Anjorin. And finally, Tino. The Chelsea Spot understand that the plan has always been for Anjorin to stay at the club and try and breakthrough directly like Hudson-Odoi and Gilmour have done. However, things may have obviously changed in the last few months since we heard this news, and it may best for him to go try and get some gametime, as we all know he is way too good for youth football.
I haven’t gone into too much detail on some of the players as possible, as in the next few days there will be more detailed articles on The Chelsea Spot on what to do with Kante and Barkley, so make sure to follow us on all our social media platforms!
So, we’ve gone through all the players. I’ll now try and summarise what I think Frank Lampard will do next season…
Most likely to start – Ziyech, Loftus-Cheek, Kovacic and Kante.
In contention to start – Mount, Jorginho, Gilmour.
Loan – Gallagher, Ampadu, Anjorin.
Sell – Barkley.
What would you do with our midfielders? Who would you sell or keep? Let us know on our social media or in our comments below!