It would be fair to say that the Blues’ season did not get off to the best possible start in the 0-4 defeat at Old Trafford, but anybody who was quick to write off Chelsea based on that showing has made a grievous mistake.
Frank Lampard has found a formula that works, with tactical flexibility and a bounty of big chances created helping to fire us up to the fringe of the Champions League places.
This is a young, dynamic side that plays a fearless brand of football, and while that will occasionally lead to defensive naivety and mistakes, it’s a profile that could ultimately fire us to glory in this 2019/20 campaign.
According to the latest Premier League betting top four finish odds, we are considered to be behind Arsenal, Tottenham, Liverpool and Manchester City in the race for the Champions League places. But is that a fair assessment of Chelsea’s chances?
Let’s take a look at three key areas which determine that a return to the upper echelons of the division could be on the cards for Frank’s army.
Attack, Attack, Attack
It would be fair to say that Chelsea are not going quietly this season. After seven rounds of top-flight matches, only Manchester City and Liverpool have scored more goals than the Blues this term.
That in itself is a refreshing development given the rather conservative manner in which Maurizio Sarri set us up last season, and the quality of our attacking play suggests our spell of positive results is sustainable for a good while yet.
Most pleasing is that the Expected Goals (xG) data has the Blues as the second most effective attacking side in the Premier League, just behind Pep Guardiola’s side. Expected Goals essentially measures the quality of chances that are created in a game, and so there is nothing ‘lucky’ or ‘unsustainable’ about Chelsea’s points tally so far: we are simply playing outstanding attacking football.
Of course, it helps when you have a striker with a natural gift for putting the ball in the back of the net….
One of the ‘crimes’ of modern football media is that we like to compare players to others that have gone before.
And for that reason, any half-decent striker that passes through Stamford Bridge inevitably gets linked to the likes of Didier Drogba and Kerry Dixon.
Tammy Abraham is not the same player as that legendary duo above, but he does share one common attribute with them: a love of scoring goals.
The 21-year-old has already notched seven league goals in as many games, and he is something of a throwback to the best strikers of yesteryear: a classic ‘number nine’ that doesn’t offer too much in build-up play, but who knows when and where he needs to be to get on the end of chances.
Abraham has scored goals everywhere he has been on loan, and he is fast becoming a proven marksman who could fire the Blues into the top four once again.
Three is the Magic Number
Although he is a managerial newbie, by all accounts, Frank has shown a versatility and nuance in his tactical approach that few outside of Chelsea were expecting.
At times this term he has switched between a three and a four-man defence, which allows us to combat specific threats from the opposition that have been identified.
So, we can play a 4-2-3-1 system where we envisage our opposition to be strong in wide areas, doubling up with our wingers tracking back to tackle marauding full backs.
And where we want to be stronger in the middle of the pitch, a 3-4-3 shape will enable us to gain superiority.
On that note: our ‘goals conceded’ tally does not look all that healthy, but again we refer you back to the Expected Goals stats: we are actually preventing our opponents from creating too many ‘big chances’, so actually that hints we are defending better than the raw data suggests.
So, those are just some of the reasons why Chelsea fans can look forward to a season where we threaten the top-four places against all the odds.