Chelsea 2020/21: Trophies the aim for Frank Lampard and his new-look squad

Ahead of the new season, we look at Chelsea's strengths, weaknesses and what the targets will be for boss Frank Lampard…

Chelsea
Image: Chelsea will have a new level of expectation on their shoulders

There were only modest expectations for Frank Lampard's first season at Chelsea, especially when joining with the club under a transfer embargo. Now, armed with an expensive new squad, the pressure will be on to deliver.

From the moment he announced plans to go into coaching, Lampard was always destined for the top job at Chelsea, but his first season was not without its complications. He was unable to make a signing in his first summer, instead choosing to promote from within, showcasing talents such as Mason Mount, Billy Gilmour and Tammy Abraham.

With no new bodies in January either - despite the lifted embargo - Lampard still guided his side to a top-four finish and into the FA Cup final. He showed what he could do without Roman Abramovich's money thrown behind him...but with the Russian owner now doing just that, and Chelsea the big spenders this summer, the stakes have been massively raised for the 2020/21 campaign.

Where they stand

Image: Chelsea finished fourth in the Premier League, but were unsuccessful in the FA Cup and Champions League

It was all or nothing for Chelsea after the restart. They didn't draw any of their matches, winning eight times, including victories against Manchester City - which handed Liverpool the title - as well as Leicester in the Premier League and Manchester United in the FA Cup.

But their five defeats were pretty emphatic. There was a dramatic 3-2 defeat to London rivals West Ham, a 5-3 thrashing by then-Premier League champions Liverpool and, of course, an FA Cup final defeat to Arsenal that started well but quickly disintegrated.

Chelsea transfer business so far

In
Timo Werner - RB Leipzig, £45m
Hakim Ziyech - Ajax, £33.3m
Xavier Mbuyamba - Barcelona, undisclosed
Ben Chilwell - Leicester, £50m
Malang Sarr - Nice, free
Thiago Silva - PSG, free
Kai Havertz - Bayer Leverkusen, £71m

Out
Willian - Arsenal, free transfer
Pedro - Roma, free
Josh Grant - Bristol Rovers, free transfer
Jamie Cumming - Stevenage, loan
Nathan - Atletico MG, £2.7m
Danilo Pantic - Cukaricki, loan
Izzy Brown - Sheffield Wednesday, loan
Jamal Blackman - Rotherham, loan

Their final game of the season was also a disheartening 4-1 defeat to eventual Champions League winners Bayern Munich in the last-16 second-leg tie, although it would have taken a miracle to turn around a 3-0 home defeat in the first leg.

Like much of Chelsea's season, it was a rollercoaster finish.

Also See:

Merson's verdict

"Chelsea have bought brilliantly. Ben Chilwell is a great signing. Yes, Marcos Alonso delivered goals, but Chelsea were weak down the left last season and needed a full-back to defend.

"Thiago Silva looks a shrewd piece of business, he a proper centre-half. If Chelsea can get a good year out of him, they have a chance. People highlight the fact that he's 35-years-old, but football is about now, not four or five years down the line. Managers haven't got four or five years, there is no point in them going out and buying a player for the future. If they do that, they will be watching that player from the TV after getting the sack!

"Frank Lampard had a free swing last season, no one would have taken the Chelsea job after losing Eden Hazard and being under a transfer ban, but he did unbelievably well getting into the Champions League.

"With the quality of players purchased, it's clear Roman Abramovich isn't playing for fourth spot, Chelsea are there to really have a go this season for the title and they have a chance."

Where they're strong

Tammy Abraham celebrates after scoring Chelsea's third goal at Crystal Palace
Image: Tammy Abraham was Chelsea's top scorer in the Premier League with 15 goals

For all the worry about how Chelsea would find goals after Eden Hazard's departure last summer, Lampard's side were actually the third-highest scorers in the Premier League last term, scoring 69 times, and in the same spot for big chances created.

Chelsea also ranked highly for passing and possession. They had the second-best pass conversion rate in the Premier League (85.21 per cent) - only behind Man City - and had an average of 60.59 per cent possession in matches, only beaten by Man City and Liverpool. They also reclaimed possession more than any other team.

And Chelsea have made signings that will only improve these numbers. Timo Werner was the second-highest scorer in the Bundesliga last season, Kai Havertz the 10th. Havertz and Hakim Ziyech are hardly slouches in midfield either, making an incredibly exciting prospect for their attacking play.

Where they need to improve

GRAPHIC

Chelsea's defensive form let them down last season. They conceded 54 Premier League goals - more than any other side in the top half of the table - and only managed to keep nine clean sheets.

They also lost 18 points from winning positions - the sixth highest in the league - which was a worse return than relegated Norwich and Watford as Chelsea's defensive frailties were exposed time and again.

But Lampard is already doing something about it. Chilwell has signed from Leicester to provide competition at left-back with Alonso looking slack in the position at times, while Thiago Silva's arrival on a free transfer provides some much-needed experience at centre-back.

And what about the goalkeeper? The writing was on the wall for Kepa Arrizabalaga after losing his place to Willy Caballero at the start of the year and for their season-ending league win over Wolves. Opta xG data reveals the Spain international conceded 10.6 goals more than expected last term - more than any other 'keeper in the league. Can he win back Lampard's trust?

Key man

Christian Pulisic celebrates giving Chelsea the lead against Arsenal in the FA Cup final
Image: Christian Pulisic has been superb for Chelsea this season

A tricky one to answer given the talent we have yet to see unleashed, but based on last season, it would have to be Christian Pulisic. It was a slow start for the USA international and a muscle injury kept him out for a long spell, but when he was on the field, he was sensational, giving the team an injection of energy and quality.

He was involved with goals in all but two of Chelsea's games after the restart, finishing with nine Premier League goals and six assists. Considering he played in only 25 Premier League games, Pulisic also had 63 shots - the fourth highest in the team - and created 30 chances.

Pulisic
Image: Christian Pulisic's injury during the FA Cup final changed the game for Chelsea

Pulisic's importance to Chelsea was demonstrated best in the FA Cup final. He put Chelsea ahead inside five minutes with a clever finish and was their best player on the pitch until a hamstring injury early in the second half saw him hobble off. Chelsea then deflated, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scoring the winner and Matteo Kovacic sent off, leaving fans wondering what could have been if Pulisic hadn't been injured.

Ones to watch

Timo Werner's Germany team-mate Kai Havertz could join him in London
Image: Germany team-mates Timo Werner and Kai Havertz have arrived at Chelsea this summer

The players to keep an eye on are those who have come in this summer - particularly Werner and Havertz. Plenty has been written and analysed about their talents with Werner especially linked with a Premier League move over the last few years.

It is a real coup for Chelsea to have landed the two Germans, who are considered the top talents from their country, and it will be intriguing to see how they perform in England.

Among the current Chelsea squad, 19-year-old Gilmour was hugely impressive against Liverpool in the FA Cup and Everton in the league before the shutdown and continued to be involved after the break. He missed the end of last season after picking up a knee injury, but keep an eye on his comeback - this kid is special.

What is success for Chelsea in 2020/21?

Chelsea head coach Frank Lampard
Image: Chelsea head coach Frank Lampard must start to win trophies this season

Trophies - it doesn't get much simpler than that.

Lampard did superbly well to reach the top four and FA Cup in his first season as manager on limited resources but with an array of stars arriving in the summer, he now - in theory - has all the tools he needs to seriously push for silverware this season.

Cup competitions are always a lottery and the aim will, of course, be to win them. But the real question is will their new-look squad be enough to push Liverpool and Man City for the Premier League title?

Abramovich has proven in the past that he does not mind changing managers when the results and performances are not there. While Lampard will arguably be given more leniency given his stature at the club, it will not be infinite.

Have you opted into Sky Bet Club?

Have you opted into Sky Bet Club?

Opt in and bet £25 or more before 23:59 on Sunday to earn a free £5. Free bets will credited by 7pm on Monday.

Around Sky