Talk about a baptism of fire. Opening game of the Premier League season and the fixture list has given Frank Lampard and Chelsea a trip to Old Trafford to face Manchester United.
After confirmation of the legendary midfielder’s appointment as the Blues’ new boss, all eyes will now turn to how he will go about setting his team up for that mouth-watering clash against the Red Devils.
Lampard has already insisted that the club’s promising academy players will be given a fair shot under his leadership, and with a transfer ban stopping them from signing any new players, his first league match in charge could be a real indication of how he wants to shape the club’s future. We’ve had a go at predicting how they might look.
To start, Kepa Arrizabalaga will no doubt be the side’s number one goalkeeper and it appears the debacle over his Carabao Cup tantrum last season has been well and truly forgotten.
In front of him, David Luiz and Andreas Christensen could be the centre-back pair against Manchester United after being Maurizio Sarri’s preference for the Europa League triumph against Arsenal.
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Despite Marcos Alonso’s inconsistencies last season the Spaniard’s experience in the big games might see him edge out Emerson at left-back. On the other flank, Cesar Azpilicueta could once again revert to his more customary full-back role as the highly-rated Reece James makes his comeback from injury.
In midfield, Lampard has already suggested in his first interview after being named Chelsea boss that he already knows where N’Golo Kante will play. After a season of Sarri playing the World Cup winner as a box-to-box threat, Kante could resume holding midfield duties under the new manager.
As part of a three-man midfield, Ruben Loftus-Cheek’s untimely injury last season will see him miss out at the start of the season, allowing Ross Barkley and Mateo Kovacic to play further ahead of Kante.
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Christian Pulisic’s fine Gold Cup campaign with USA has certainly got tongues wagging and he will surely be expected to fill the enormous shoes of Eden Hazard.
On the right-hand side, Willian and Pedro are likely to be in competition once more, whilst up front Tammy Abraham could be the biggest beneficiary of Lampard’s return to Stamford Bridge.
The England U21 international has been outspoken in his excitement at playing under the former Derby manager, and it will be a major statement of intent were Lampard to trust Abraham right from the off.