It came as a bit of a surprise to everyone last year when Maurizio Sarri was sacked even after winning the Europa League and qualifying for the Champions League.
The bigger surprise came when Chelsea decided to replace him with an ex Chelsea player and football legend Frank Lampard who has had little or no experience before in coaching.
Lampard was successful at Derby County the previous season but to manage a top club in the Premier League is a whole different story.
The work became more difficult for Lampard when Chelsea lost their best player Eden Hazard to Real Madrid and were unable to buy any player in that transfer window due to the transfer ban placed on them.
Lampard had no choice than to rely mostly on Chelsea’s loaned and academy players. The likes of Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount, Tomori, Reece James were brought into the squad.
Overall, Lampard had a fair season but when judge with the idea and circumstance that he was in, many crowned it as an incredible season.
Now Chelsea have supported Lampard enormously in the transfer window, more than what anyone expected. Lampard have signed a total of 8 players already this window and there’s still a possibility of 1 or 2 coming before the transfer window closes.
Some persons will say “with resources, comes responsibilities.” Lampard have the players he needs, now so it’s fair to say the ball is now in his court.
Everyone including Chelsea owner Abramovich would expect him to perform extremely well with the team he now has and while we believe the new players needs time to adapt to his system, we also know patient is not Abramovich’s strong suit. Lampard could be shown the door any moment from now if he doesn’t performs well.
The new season has began already and while there are some promising signs that this team would go on to be the best in the world soon, there’s still not much difference from last season. It’s still the same “promising” with the inability to be consistent.
The defense is already proving not to have changed even with the addition of Thiago Silva. There’s still too many wrong moves and errors which we pay for just like we saw against West Brom and now all eyes and thoughts are moving towards the fact that maybe, just maybe it’s Lampard and his tactics that is the problem and not the players.
Is Lampard actually the problem in Chelsea currently?
Well, that’s a million dollar question and to be honest, it’s still too early for anyone to answer that.
Almost 50 percent of the players we bought during the transfer window are still gaining fitness and are yet to play while some old players are still out injured.
However we can’t deny the fact that there are some very obvious issues currently in the team that could be solved if Lampard could adjust one or two in his tactics and selection.
Reporting from Chelsea Futbal, I will be highlighting three major issues observed in Lampard’s tactics and choices that should be corrected immediately. I strongly believe these issues when resolved accordingly, will go a long way in strengthening the whole squad.
If you disagree with any point I’m about to highlight below, kind drop your own opinion in the comment section below.
Three logical issues Lampard needs to correct in his tactics and choices with Chelsea
1. Frequent reshuffling and gambling should stop: Lampard is fond of gambling with players position even in major matches. Today Kante could be play defensive midfield and tomorrow he would be an attacking midfielder. Same with Mason Mount and now, Timo Werner and Kai Havertz are already facing the same issue.
He also has the habit of reshuffling and gambling too often making it difficult for himself to come out with a definite starting 11. There’s no way you can second guess Lampard’s starting eleven. No way! He could play with Jorginho and Kante today, then Kante, Kovacic tomorrow, even the front three or front four who are supposed to understand each other very well by together often changes every two or three games.
When players are not allowed to play a definite position, or play with the same partner often, the flow of the whole team disrupts after each game and then they try to start and understand each other all over again.
I know the injury crises has played a big part in this issue but let’s face it. Lampard also has a fault in this. For example, since when Rudiger came back from injury early last season, almost all of our central defenders has been fit and for over a year, Lampard can’t still figure out the best pair between the four so they can play more games and understand each other well and this has had a huge negative effect on the effectiveness of our defense.
Liverpool for instance, has an attack of Mane, Firminho and Salah who plays together about 90 percent of all the times Liverpool plays. The same can’t be said for Chelsea’s attack, or midfield or defense. Lampard has to correct this and make his starting 11 more definite.
2. Playing Kante as a box to box midfielder: Since Maurizio Sarri came into Kante’s life, it has never been the same for the French midfielder. Kante was moved by the Italian from his favourite defensive midfield position where he thrived excellently for three years to a more advanced position in the central attacking midfield.
Not many agreed with Sarri’s choice during his time but at least he had a definite position for Kante. He played Kante 99.9 percent of the time at RCM with Jorginho as the DM in an attacking 4-3-3 formation.
Kante at first found it difficult but he began to adapt and Didier Deschamps started to use him at the same position in the French National squad.
When Lampard arrived he had a decision to make. Either to continue with Kante from where Sarri stopped or return the lad to his original and former position as a defensive/holding midfielder.
It’s been over one year and it seems Lampard haven’t been able to make that decision yet.
I understand it is difficult for Lampard to continue Kante in the way Sarri used him because Lampard hardly plays with a plain 4-3-3 formation that Sarri used instead Lampard prefers a 4-2-3-1 with two defensive/central midfielders where one plays the holding role (DM) and the other plays a more advance box to box role. (CM)
Typically everyone would expect Lampard to play Kante in the holding role because that’s where he most fits in. Kante has hardly played the box to box role throughout his career.
At Leicester, he played with Danny and Danny played the CM/box to box role, at France it is either Paul Pogba or Matuidi that plays the box to box role as we saw in the World Cup.
Even at Chelsea, during the Conte era, it was Fabregas or Matic who played the box to box role while assisting Kante in midfield as he played the defensive/holding role making him find little or no reason to move forward or have any need to attack.
This role worked perfectly for Kante, he was able to protect the defenders behind him effectively when without the ball and when on the ball, he could actually play the holding role to a good extent even against high pressing teams.
Now, when Lampard plays with two deep midfielders in his mostly used 4-2-3-1 formation, he prefers to use Kante as the central midfielder, making him play the box to box role and have a reason to go forward while the other midfielder plays the defensive midfield role.
Against Brighton in our first Premier League match of the season, he played Kante as the CM while Jorginho played DM and they both struggled in the match but we thought maybe he had no choice as a result of Kovacic suspension from that game but then against West Brom last weekend, it was just Kovacic and Kante and Kante was still given a more advance role ahead of Kovacic in the game and as usual, Kante struggled.
See image below for pictorial explanation and more analysis
Kovacic can play both roles effectively as we saw against Barnsley, when he played the defensive midfield role effectively while Barkley played the box to box but Kante can’t play that box to box so well and logically speaking, why even use Kante there when we all know he will play the holding role better than almost any defensive midfielder in the world. Kante might not be too good on the ball but when tasked with the holding role, he has kept a high practice of ensuring he doesn’t loose the ball easily while playing safe and when you campare it with what he brings without the ball in that position you can’t but agree that he is the best in the world playing there.
Lampard has to realize that Kante is 100 times better as a full defensive midfielder and Kovacic is even better off in the box to box role also. If Kovacic can’t play the box to box role, then find someone else who can and don’t let Kante sacrifice his position for it because it isn’t doing the team any good. Our defense becomes more porous everyday because Kante is always going forward where he offers almost nothing with the ball.
This point became evident when in the second half against West Brom, Lampard decided to relieve Kante of the box to box duty and played him as a sole defensive/holding midfielder behind Mason Mount and Kai Havertz. We became more stable overall, Kante had a much more better game than what he produced in the first half when he was galavanting upward the pitch. We conceded no more goals and we scored three.
I hope Lampard saw that it was a better choice afterall to keep Kante as a DM.
3. Half pressing: Another major tactical flaw observed in Frank Lampard’s Chelsea is their method of pressing.
Chelsea posseses a very attacking type of fullbacks especially when playing with Reece James and Marcos Alonso at once. These players are also slow so when trying to track back quickly, it is also a problem for them even when they want to.
When Chelsea presses, their fullbacks moves forward completely, including the box to box midfielder who is Kante as it was played against West Brom, leaving the defense with just the centerbacks and sometimes Kovacic to stop all counters.
This often lead to Kovacic collecting a booking because he is not well practiced in the act of performing a one or one or last ditch tackle so this also brings us to the more reason why Kante should be played in the defensive midfield role while another player handles the box to box.
Now let get back to the idea of how Lampard is failing to utilize this high press effectively.
Teams like Bayern and Liverpool who have attacking full back also utilize this high pressing tactic in games and it works for them because they apply it fully not in a half way like Chelsea does.
What I mean by half press is when your central defenders don’t go along with the press. It might sound fine for your defenders to sit back but it’s actually dangerous. This gives too much spaces between your attack and defense and the team becomes less compact and gullible for exploition especially for fast oppositions. One or two of the opposition attackers simply stay far enough behind your defensive midfielder and they wouldn’t be offside because of your CB’s who didn’t join the press, are keeping them on.
Now when the ball is cleared by the opposition or an incisive pass is played, it moves past your DM and it’s a 2 on 2 or 3 on 2 counter. See picture below for pictorial explanation
A clear repercussion of this half press happened against Liverpool when, Christensen wasn’t courageous enough to join the press and gave Mane room to exploit with his speed when Henderson played the ball above Jorginho.
If Christensen had join the ongoing Chelsea press completely, then Mane would have been forced to stay in his own half to avoid offside and Henderson probably would have decided to play the ball around first before going forward because there would be nobody to play the ball for through at once and even if there was and he escaped offside, then there will still be more time to track him down before he gets to the penalty area.
So it’s actually simple, Lampard needs to realize that the pressing game is a game of wether your in or out. There’s no putting one leg in it and removing the other because that will only cause more damage.
When pressing, it is a prerequisite that the whole team knows and understand that they have to remain compact including the keeper in some cases. This means that the centerbacks stay just behind the half way line and the goal keeper out of the penalty box all to exercise the full press.
I remember Guardiola’s Bayern excercised an extreme full press some time in the Bundesliga and Manuel was often referred to as a midfielder.
The thing is if Chelsea doesn’t want to press high then they shouldn’t. All that have to be done is play Azpilcueta instead of Alonso or James and you are assured there’s someone who will stay to join the CB’s in defending counters but if we decide to press high then Lampard must make sure the defenders if not the keeper, move upward to cover up the spaces between the midfield and defense.
Know that these points are not a means to criticize Frank Lampard.
Lampard is doing a great job for now but I thought it’s worth pointing out some few things for you all to read and analyze so drop your opinions and thoughts in the comment section if you don’t agree with any of these points or add yours.
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