Chelsea are once again allowed to dip into the transfer market come January and without a doubt, we can expect to see a number of in-comings for the Blues. For all of the recent transfer talk, Chelsea have mostly been linked with attack-minded players and if anything, statements made by Lampard after the club’s win over Lille on Tuesday all but confirms the club’s priority in January.
“I will look at all areas of the team,” said Lampard, “but I think it was quite clear in the summer that you lose Eden Hazard, who was a huge part of scoring or creating our goals last season and the season before that.”
“I think we’ve found ways as a team where we can still be competitive. We’ve shown that in the league and now the Champions League.”
“But if we’re looking at if we can get even better, can we get better in forward areas to help the idea of being more clinical, then I think we’ll always look at that.”
Right from his playing days to his coaching stint at Derby and now at Chelsea, Frank Lampard has always been an attacking-minded player and it’s easy to see why that reflects in his sides as well.
However, Chelsea’s over-zealousness in attack would need to be balanced or any increase in “technicality” upfront will be undone by the poor back-line. Over the years, Chelsea have been known for solidarity at the back among the top six but this time they are looking far from it.
An attacking-minded coach added to a host of young players would surely have it’s positives and negatives. On the positive, the young players came in like new signings and took the League by storm but with four wins in their last 10 games in all competitions (Whoscored), questions as to whether the team’s honeymoon period might be over loom large.
For the negative, it’s the obvious fact that the Chelsea defence are giving away goals too easily.
When you look at it closely, Chelsea’s problems had never gone away at any point even during their unbeaten run. When they won seven games on the spin across all tournaments, they were only able to keep three clean sheets. Overall this season they have only kept four clean sheets in 25 games (Whoscored) and they conceded once again on Tuesday night to Lille in the Champions League.
The phrase “defence wins titles” is often overlooked but the proof is in the pudding. Liverpool are league leaders today not only because they have a really powerful attack but also they have been able to grind out narrow victories and concede few goals. The same could be said for their nearest challengers Leicester City which at one point in time were level on points with Chelsea on the table.
The lack of a good defence has allowed them to drop points in matches and lose ground on Leicester. As per Skysports, Leicester are the least conceding side so far this season with 10 goals, followed by Liverpool at 14 goals. Chelsea’s tally of 24 goals conceded already means nine more sides currently have a better defensive record than the Blues, including the likes of Sheffield United, Crystal Palace and Newcastle.
To put it into perspective, Chelsea conceded a total of 39 league goals last season (Skysports) and in less than half of that this season, they have already let in 24, a staggering (61%) of that number.
Frank Lampard is a Chelsea legend who knows what it means to win for the club. He has played a huge role in most of the success of the club and has played under different managers. He would also be well aware of the fact that a lot of the titles himself and the club won in that time was predicated on a solid defensive foundation. More than anyone else, he will know that in that category, there is still work to be done.
The display against Everton last weekend was further evidence of an unconvincing Chelsea rearguard but personnel-wise, the defence has not been without its problems.
Already they have lost defenders at different points this season and this has done damage to their rhythm defensively. Antonio Rudiger is easily Chelsea’s best and most experienced central defender but he has rarely been on the pitch this season. The young back-line hasn’t looked assuring so far. Kepa has also had his struggles on a couple of occasions.
It all points to the conclusion that regardless of whatever players Chelsea are looking to bring in come January, Lampard must try to balance his team’s style of play as the “attacking” approach leaves Chelsea easy to exploit on the counter. An attacking-minded approach is not wrong in any way but without the right personnel for it, It’s simply more harmful than productive.
With Chelsea also getting to the round of 16 and against other big names, any sort of complacency would be thoroughly dealt with and the club would surely not want any form of humiliation whatsoever. Lampard must try and get players to suit his style of play or tweak his tactics to fit the available players on his hands.