In early July, Chelsea unveiled Frank Lampard as their new head coach following Maurizio Sarri leaving the Blues to join the Italian champions, Juventus. Lampard, a Premier League and Champions League winner with Chelsea during his playing days has taken Jody Morris with him to Stamford Bridge as the new-look coaching staff look to build on the foundations laid down by Sarri. They have a sizeable gap to make up if they want to compete with the current champions, Manchester City, as well as Liverpool.
While Lampard is seemingly somewhat hampered by Chelsea’s current transfer ban, the Englishman’s ability to develop young players could prove vital in the upcoming season. During his spell as the manager of Derby County, Lampard managed to secure the loan signings of Mason Mount and Fikayo Tomori from Chelsea, with both being crucial to the Rams reaching the Championship Play-off Final. Mount was particularly impressive under Lampard’s guidance as the 20-year-old midfielder featured 35 times and scored eight goals whilst on loan at Pride Park.
Despite their transfer ban, Chelsea have managed to complete the permanent signing of Mateo Kovacic from Real Madrid following the Croatian’s loan last season, and Christian Pulisic has joined after they signed him in January but loaned him back to Borussia Dortmund for half a season. However, with Eden Hazard recently departing for Real Madrid, the Blues’ transfer ban could limit their ability to challenge on all fronts next season with the future of the Belgian’s likely replacement, Callum Hudson-Odoi, also remaining unclear.
After securing qualification to this year’s Champions League, Chelsea will be competing in four competitions come the start of the season. As a result of having to play such a vast number of games, it is a real possibility that Lampard may look to the FA Cup as Chelsea’s best chance of claiming silverware.
Moreover, with less travelling involved and easier route to the final than the Champions League, as well as fewer matches to focus on compared to the Premier League, the FA Cup represents an ideal opportunity for Lampard’s young squad to taste success this season and satisfy the demands of the Stamford Bridge faithful. While Manchester City and Liverpool are widely considered as the favourites for many of the domestic competitions this season, FA Cup betting has Chelsea at 9/1 to win the competition for a ninth time.
Throughout his time at Derby, Lampard looked to ensure that his side were tactically flexible as they were capable of dominating possession but could also problems for other sides on the counter-attack. With his favoured 4-2-3-1 system likely to transfer to Stamford Bridge from Pride Park, the Englishman has a wide array of options for this approach to work effectively with his new squad of players.
Along with Mount, Lampard can call upon Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who has recently agreed a new long-term deal with Chelsea, and Ross Barkley to fulfil that creative role behind the striker. Additionally, with Pulisic, Hudson-Odoi, Willian and Pedro all competing for those two wide spots, there is plenty of attacking threat to see Lampard’s system succeed in the Premier League.
Reasons for Optimism
Following Lampard’s return to Stamford Bridge as head coach, there are plenty of reasons for Chelsea fans to be optimistic about the upcoming season, even with the existing transfer ban. Although chasing Premier League and Champions League glory may be a step too far for Lampard’s young squad this season, the FA Cup certainly represents a genuine route to silverware.