With three strikers to choose from, Frank Lampard has a big decision to make ahead of Chelsea’s first game of the new season against Manchester United. However, it should be a returning loan striker who gets the nod to begin with.
Of the centre-forwards Maurizio Sarri had at his disposal last year, Olivier Giroud is the only one left at Stamford Bridge. Gonzalo Higuain, who spent the second half of the past term on loan with the Blues, has returned to Juventus after Chelsea decided not to bring him in permanently, whilst Alvaro Morata has completed a move to Atletico Madrid after being shipped out in January to the Wanda Metropolitano.
To replace them, Tammy Abraham and Michy Batshuayi have come back to the club. The former had a prolific campaign at Aston Villa, scoring 26 goals as the Villans were promoted to the Premier League, whilst the latter enjoyed a fruitful spell at Crystal Palace from January, where he netted six in 13.
So far during pre-season, Lampard has favoured Abraham and Giroud over the former Marseille striker. But they have all bagged two each, despite “Bats” receiving the lowest amount of playing time of the three. He has taken the opportunities he has been given with aplomb, which in itself has seen him enter the conversation of who should start.
Throughout the warm-up matches, the Blues have looked to play over the top. Pedro’s goal against RB Salzburg has been talked about because of the skill involved in the airborne back-heel, but it is the build-up play that is more interesting.
Barkley was looking for a run to meet his through ball and the former Barcelona man used his pace to read it perfectly. This is a trait he shares with Batshuayi, certainly more than the other two options. Giroud can be called anything but quick, whilst Abraham, although not necessarily slow, does not possess the speed of the Blues’ number 23. The latter will be best suited to the increase of balls played in behind.
Batshuayi’s best spell since being at Chelsea has, ironically, been with Borussia Dortmund, where he scored nine in 13 during the second half of the 17/18 season. Three of those were provided by USA youngster Christian Pulisic… who will now also play his football at Stamford Bridge. The 20-year-old’s arrival will allow a potentially destructive partnership to reunite if the 25-year-old is given the chance to lead the line.
As it stands, it looks as though either the well-established Giroud or highly-rated youngster Abraham will be selected, especially given that he will wear the number nine shirt next season. However, Lampard may want to reconsider and go with the less expected choice of the Belgium international, who would be a better fit for the style he wants to play.