Everybody will have high expectations from Frank Lampard this season considering his heavy shopping during the summer transfer window so far.
2019-20 finish: 4th (20W-6D-12L, 66 points)
Head coach: Frank Lampard
2019-20 PL top scorer: Tammy Abraham (15 PL goals)
Other Trophies: None (Reached FA Cup Final)
It isn't easy to handle a young squad but what Frank Lampard did with Chelsea in his debut season last time around is really commendable. A fourth-place finish in the Premier League and reaching the final of the FA Cup competition are the highlights of Lampard's first season as Chelsea manager but everybody will have high expectations from him this season considering the heavy shopping he has done in the summer transfer window so far.
Lampard has spent over $250 million in acquiring the services of some of the world's best young talents -- Timo Werner, Hakim Ziyech, Kai Havertz and Ben Chilwell -- and that hefty sum of money spent brings with it the pressure of winning trophies. Nobody will settle with a top-four finish or an exit in the final knockout phase of Cup competitions now. Chelsea has gone trophy-less for two back-to-back seasons now and there won't be any room for excuses if Lampard fails to win a silverware with a squad that looks so formidable on paper.
Issues they faced last season
Apart from Cesar Azpilicueta, all of the players who featured in the first team regularly for Chelsea last season are quite young. In fact, the likes of Tammy Abraham and Mason Mount were playing their first full season for Chelsea. While young legs do bring flair and energy to the team, they also bring a bit of inconsistency. That's why Chelsea faltered multiple times in crunch situations last season.
The defeat in the FA Cup final to Arsenal was one such example and they certainly didn't look like a match for Bayern Munich in the round-of-16 fixture of the Champions League. They lost quite a few games towards the closing stages of the Premier League as well and that pretty much sums up how they failed to hold their nerve in tense situations. The ability to handle such pressure in big games comes only with experience and they clearly didn't have that last time around.
Have the issues been resolved?
There is only one way to handle pressure and that is by learning to hold your nerve. With an experience of one complete season under their belt, the young Chelsea players are certainly better equipped to handle similar situations this time around. The arrival of Ziyech, Werner and Havertz will help as well. Even though they are also young, they have had plenty of experience playing in leagues like the Eredivisie and Bundesliga in the last few years.
Chelsea's attack looks primed to destroy their opposition this season. Werner and Havertz along with Christian Pulisic are going to give the defenders a hard time whereas Ziyech, along with Mason Mount, will form a formidable creative partnership in the midfield. Tammy Abraham is as good as a backup forward can be. He was their highest scorer in the Premier League last season but he will fall down in the pecking order now with the arrival of Werner and Havertz.
The defence has been bolstered as well with the transfer of Ben Chilwell from Leicester City and the acquisition of Thiago Silva and Malang Sarr on a free transfer. So Lampard has rounded off each department pretty well and the squad is quite strong on paper.
Prediction for 2020/21 season
Considering the kind of squad Lampard has assembled this season, Chelsea has a strong chance of competing closely with Liverpool and Manchester City for the Premier League title. The squad has immense depth and quality, and that's why they look primed for success in other major competitions like the Champions League as well. At least one silverware looks highly likely for the Blues this season, and anything on top of that will be a bonus.
Feature image courtesy: AFP / Glyn Kirk