If managing Chelsea after just one year’s experience wasn’t hard enough, Frank Lampard’s job has not been made any easier by the number of injuries at the club.
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N’Golo Kante, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Antonio Rudiger and Emerson have all missed multiple games due to time spent on the sidelines, whilst Ruben Loftus-Cheek has not yet featured this term after damaging his Achilles in May of this year.
However, now, just Emerson, Rudiger and Loftus-Cheek are unavailable to the boss, at least in terms of realistic members of the first-team squad. As such, we may soon be able to see the former Derby County man’s preferred XI. Here, we try to predict exactly what that will be.
Kepa Arrizabalaga, quite clearly, is the number one in goal. He has played in all but one match this season, and has generally looked solid. He made some important saves against Lille on Wednesday night to show he is beginning to become more and more confident in a Blues shirt. Mark Schwarzer told The Athletic that he could be the Stamford Bridge outfit’s keeper for “15 years”. For the foreseeable future, he will dominate that position.
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In defence, there has been a fair amount of change since last year. Emerson, when fit, has been the first-choice at left-back, whilst Fikayo Tomori has made one of the spots at centre-back his own in recent weeks. Those two are likely to be included on most occasions when they are fit and available.
With Cesar Azpilicueta being the club captain, he will keep his spot at right-back, although a change to a 3-4-2-1 formation, like against Les Dogues, would allow Reece James to feature regularly too. Although Rudiger has played just one game this term, he is still probably the best centre-back at the club and definitely the most experienced at 26.
The middle of the park should be filled by Jorginho and N’Golo Kante. The Italy international has improved dramatically since last season, finally grabbing his first Premier League assist for the side since his switch from Napoli in the summer of 2018. Kante needs no introduction. He is a two-time league title winner and has also lifted the World Cup. His importance cannot be understated for the Blues, and he should, therefore, play in the lion’s share of fixtures.
In a 4-2-3-1 formation, Willian, Mason Mount and Callum Hudson-Odoi should line-up in three of the four more offensive positions. The former has already scored twice so far this season, whilst 20-year-old Mount has impressed, netting three times. On the left, Hudson-Odoi should become a regular as he returns to full fitness. He already has one goal and two assists in less than 180 minutes of football, and his new five-year contract indicates he is a huge part of Lampard’s plans.
Up front, Tammy Abraham has already put his stamp on the striker’s spot. The goal against Lille was his eighth of the campaign so far, and his overall performance against the Ligue 1 outfit was “Drogba-esque” according to Rio Ferdinand.
The 22-year-old will get plenty more chances to impress the former Manchester United man.