FRANK LAMPARD is expected to takeover as manger of Chelsea very soon.
The Blues’ club legend might appear a shock appointment to some but could appear as the perfect tonic to bring back the feel good factor to Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea legend Frank Lampard is expected to be named as the Blues’ new manager this week[/caption]
But how will he line up?
It’s a big question for fans of the Blues next season with Chelsea unable to sign any players this summer and more players expected to leave.
Star man Eden Hazard has already left, as has veteran defender Gary Cahill.
Maurizio Sarri, who left Stamford Bridge for Juventus without much regret from Chelsea fans, could also raid his former club.
Favourite son Jorginho could join Sarri at a third club, while left-back Emerson Palmieri is also said to be a target.
Both Kurt Zouma and Davide Zappacosta have been linked with an exit as well.
This XI factors in those four being sold – although Chelsea could decide to keep any and all of that quartet given the lack of experience throughout the squad.
Chelsea have also gone cold on Mateo Kovacic in recent days and he has been left out of this team.
Again, the Blues could move for the Croatian, especially with Ruben Loftus-Cheek expected to miss a large chunk of the season.
This squad should still have just enough juice to challenge for a Champions League place.
Lampard appears to be the ideal candidate to lead these young Blues into the future – and the rewards could be even greater if Chelsea give in to a youth movement.
In just a single season at Derby County, Lampard showed some qualities that bode well.
Not only did Lampard quickly win over fans, he gave young players major responsibility throughout the season.
Chelsea loanees Mason Mount and Fikayo Tomori were two of his most important players and deserve game time next season.
With an added onus on youth next season, Lampard also has the perfect assistant.
Jody Morris, who played almost 200 games for the Blues, knows what lies in the academy better than anyone.
Morris was the Chelsea Under-18s assistant and then manager between 2014 and 2018, leading the youngsters to massive success at home and in Europe.
During his season in charge Lampard proved he was a highly versatile manager, picking and choosing his team and formation based on the opponent and match up.
Unlike Sarri, who rigidly stuck to his 4-3-3 even when it clearly wasn’t working, Lampard played a number of different players in a variety of formations.
GK: Kepa Arrizabalaga
No surprises that Kepa will be the No1 again next season.
Chelsea spent a record £72million on the Spaniard because they expect him to be the man in between the sticks for the next decade.
He was shaky at times but overall had a decent season.
Caballero, 37, is getting on but is a steadying presence on the bench.
Chelsea’s young goalkeepers – Jamal Blackman, Nathan Baxter and Bradley Collins – need to do a lot more to take that No 2 spot, let alone challenge Kepa.
Kepa Arrizabalaga had an up and down season but remains a big talent for the future[/caption]
RB: Cesar Azpilicueta
The Chelsea captain, 29, had arguably his worst season at the club in the last campaign.
Sarri asked him to do too much in an attacking sense while Dave barely got a break, playing the full 90 minutes twice a week.
But make no mistake, he remains one of the best right-backs in the Premier League and absolutely has to start as much as possible for Chelsea to have a chance next season.
However, with the Spaniard approaching his 30s, it would be nice to see Lampard rotate the defender a little bit more – or at least give him a 15 minute rest at the end of less important matches.
While Zappacosta has not convinced Sarri or Antonio Conte before him, Chelsea now have one of the most exciting young full-backs in English football.
Reece James, 19, was a revelation for Wigan Athletic last season and was named their Player of the Season as well as reaching the Championship Team of the Year.
He will miss the start of the season because of an injury, but needs game time when he gets back.
Cesar Azpilicueta slipped a bit but remains one of the best defenders in the Premier League[/caption]
CBs: Antonio Rudiger and David Luiz
After some toing and froing, Chelsea finally relented and offered Luiz the two-year contract he wanted.
The veteran, 32, still flashed that rash head at times last season, but overall was excellent – especially as a creative force.
Rudiger was by far the best out and out defender at Chelsea last season and is the perfect blend of athleticism and skill to be a top notch Premier League defender.
Lampard will also have major talent waiting in the wings.
Andreas Christensen took a step backwards last season, appearing nervy and out of control whenever he played.
Hopefully with a new manager in charge, one who appears to be loved by his players, the Dane can get back to the form he showed under Conte.
Tomori, as stated above, is clearly already trusted by Lampard and had a great season, winning Derby’s Player of the Year award.
The 21-year-old needs chances – but that means there’s one centre-back too many.
Kurt Zouma is far too good to be a fourth or fifth-choice defender at the club and will it will be a shame to lose the powerful Frenchman.
What could have been for the him and Chelsea had he not suffered that awful injury.
But he’s not quite good enough to start and Chelsea have some excellent young players coming through… time to cash in.
Antonio Rudiger and David Luiz should be Lampard’s starting centre-backs – but will be pushed by talented youngsters Andreas Christensen and Fikayo Tomori[/caption]
LB: Marcos Alonso
Alonso’s form fell off a cliff last year after he was asked to fill a more traditional role at full-back.
Under Conte Alonso was probably Chelsea’s most important player, but with more defensive responsibility and his pace exposed under Sarri the Spaniard lost his place.
Emerson Palmieri should be kept but the lure of Juventus may be too great for the Brazil-born Italy international.
If Emerson leaves Chelsea will lack depth at the position – youngster Jay Dasilva was decent on loan at Bristol City but is not nearly ready for regular time at Chelsea.
In fact, if Alonso were to be out for whatever reason, then Lampard should probably deploy Azpilicueta at left-back.
He replaced Ashley Cole in that position when he first arrived and would be more than capable now.
DMs: N’Golo Kante and Ross Barkley
Not many Chelsea fans will be sad to see the back of Jorginho should he leave.
While he was good at times – and excellent in the Europa League final – over a full season Jorginho struggled to adapt to the speed of English football.
Too often attacking players would breeze by him and his lack of pace and physicality was targeted.
Kante simply has to be returned to his best position.
He did well adapting to life under Sarri but there is still no logic to play the best defensive midfielder in the world in the wrong place.
To be fair this is a position of weakness – especially with Ruben Loftus-Cheek a long-term injury.
Ross Barkley is a steady if unspectacular performer, a better option than Kovacic but Chelsea could do with both.
Some fans will be horrified at the inclusion of Danny Drinkwater in this squad.
But Chelsea probably won’t be able to offload him given his massive wages.
And let’s remember it was in this formation, alongside Kante, that Drinkwater starred to land Leicester City the most unlikely of Premier League titles in 2016.
If you are going to spend £35million and £120,000-a-week on a player, you may as well give him a chance.
N’Golo Kante should be moved back to his best position as a defensive midfielder[/caption]
AM: Mason Mount
When Ruben Loftus-Cheek gets fit he should be starting in Lampard’s team.
That could be part of a midfield two, but with his mix of pace, power and skill, the 23-year-old could be devastating in a more attacking position – like he was for Crystal Palace.
That leaves Mason Mount, who proved he is more than good enough at Championship level and should make the step up to the elite level.
Only 20, Mount scored 11 goals and added five assists for Lampard’s Rams last season, showed off everything you could ask for in a modern midfielder.
He is athletic and skillful, very versatile and has an eye for a goal.
It’s his demeanour that really has people sitting up and taking notice, though.
Mount has the vision to spot a killer pass and is oh so calm in possession, playing like someone who has been at the top for years and years.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek will miss a large chunk of the season after a devastating Achilles injury[/caption]
Mason Mount was brilliant for Derby under Lampard last season and should get another chance to shine[/caption]
Ws: Pedro and Christian Pulisic
Chelsea will not be able to replace the production of Eden Hazard.
The Belgian is one of the top five or ten players in the world, the best player in the Premier League and has been a one-man team for the Blues in recent years.
None of the quartet of wingers Chelsea will roll out next season come close to him.
But fear not – two of them have the potential to get close to the level Hazard has operated at.
Chelsea need Christian Pulisic, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Pedro and Willian to operate as a gang and share scoring duties between them.
Pulisic was one of the most hyped teenagers in world football after a brilliant start to life at Borussia Dortmund.
He was overshadowed by Jadon Sancho last season, but the American has suffered with injuries and a fresh start could do him wonders.
Hudson-Odoi should have been a day one starter for Lampard, but like Loftus-Cheek he is injured.
Now he’s definitely staying at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea must do all they can to foster his world class potential into world class results.
Callum Hudson-Odoi will miss the start of the season – but has the potential to become a world class winger[/caption]
Willian and Pedro must contribute more goals and assists between them[/caption]
The teenager has all the talent in the world, a blend of skill and direct dribbling ability, as well as a good cross.
His most eye-catching trait is his calmness in front of goal – if he maxes his potential, it’s not hard to see Hudson-Odoi scoring 20 goals a season.
Pedro and Willian are ageing, extremely inconsistent and have major flaws in their games but are still above average wingers.
They must provide more goal contributions if Chelsea are to have a chance next season.
A stark contrast… in the four seasons since Pedro joined, Hazard scored 48 goals and added 27 assists in 138 Premier League games.
In the same time period, Pedro and Willian appeared in 263 Premier League matches – and between them combined for just 50 goals and 36 assists.
Chelseas wingers will need to step up to match the incredible production of Eden Hazard[/caption]
ST: Olivier Giroud
Chelsea desperately need to strengthen up front but the two options available to them aren’t as bad as some fans fear.
Olivier Giroud is not quick enough to be truly considered a world class talent, but he does everything else at a world class level.
As he showed throughout the Europa League, and especially against Arsenal in the final, Giroud remains one of the best target men in world football.
Sarri didn’t fancy him, but the Italian’s loss should be Lampard’s game.
Giroud will get goals next season.
He will frustrate at times but Chelsea are not stuck with some big lump who offers nothing – Giroud is a brilliant striker.
His interplay with wingers is unrivalled and he will create chances for others with his one-twos, flicks and knock downs.
Pulisic and Hudson-Odoi, when he gets fit, will both benefit from playing alongside a player who can occupy two centre-backs on his own.
Those two are both lightning quick, so Giroud’s lack of pace shouldn’t be such a problem if you can get those two running in behind.
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And if Lampard feels he needs a burst of pace up front in a game, why not turn to Tammy Abraham.
The 21-year-old deserves his chance at Stamford Bridge – he could have done nothing more on loan last season, scoring 26 goals in all for Aston Villa.
His poor one stint in the Premier League with Swansea City is being used to knock him, but Abraham has grown since then, while that Swansea team was a rotten attacking force.
Abraham is very raw but he’s has plenty of pace and strength.
His biggest asset is his finishing – Abraham can score with both feet and his head and defenders couldn’t handle his movement last season.
Don’t expect him to score 20 Premier League goals next season, but Tammy has more than enough talent to warrant a long hard look.
Olivier Giroud lacks pace but is still a very, very good striker[/caption]
Tammy Abraham scored 26 goals for Aston Villa last season and got another for England Under-21s at the Euros[/caption]