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Frank Lampard

Chelsea, 2019

Managerial profile
Frank Lampard had a promising first season in management at Derby County, where he was appointed in May 2018. His team won 24 of their 57 matches in all competitions, finishing sixth in the Championship before reaching a playoff final they lost narrowly to Aston Villa. The Rams also progressed to the fifth round of the FA Cup, where they lost to Premier League Brighton – and dumped Manchester United out of the League Cup before losing to, yes, Chelsea in the fourth round.

Derby’s regular-season results against the five teams that finished above them in the Championship were much as you might expect from the team finishing sixth. Four wins and a draw from 10 games represented a decent return, but Lampard’s move to Chelsea will see him tasked with challenging the likes of Manchester City and Liverpool – respectively, the English and European champions.

Predecessor Maurizio Sarri, now in charge at Italian champions Juventus, led Chelsea to third in the Premier League and a Europa League triumph in often hostile circumstances. Their best player, Eden Hazard, has also since been sold to Real Madrid, and a transfer ban means that the pre-arranged signings of Christian Pulisic and Mateo Kovacic are the only ones they will make.

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Playing style
At Derby, Lampard regularly organised his team into a 4-1-4-1 or 4-3-3 formation, and encouraged a possession-based game. He used Tom Huddlestone or Bradley Johnson as a deep-lying midfielder and, where possible, attempted to play through central areas; when they were marked, one of Derby’s attacking midfielders, most commonly Duane Holmes, would instead drop to assist with build-up play.

The striker in Lampard’s team would often play with his back to goal, looking to withdraw to receive possession and set it to a forward-facing midfielder to play a penetrative pass beyond the opposition’s defence, or turn and advance play. Derby’s full-backs would advance as much as possible, while his wide attackers played both inside and outside (below), requiring high-quality close control.

Chelsea’s senior squad
If, in Kepa Arrizabalaga, Chelsea possess an established first-choice goalkeeper, there are numerous positions ahead of him where Lampard will be confronted with selection dilemmas should he use similar tactics to those seen at Derby.

Cesar Azpilicueta and Marcos Alonso remain suitable options as attacking full-backs – Jayden Bogle made the most assists for Derby last season – but in central defence David Luiz, Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen will all expect to start. As seen with Chelsea loanee Fikayo Tomori last term, Lampard prefers possession to be brought out from defence, which again makes Luiz a likely starter. Alongside him, Rudiger’s defensive qualities may give him an edge over Christensen, and more balance alongside the more cavalier Luiz (below).

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At Derby, Lampard had several midfielders capable of breaking up and building play at Championship level. At Chelsea, perhaps only Ruben Loftus-Cheek is genuinely capable of both, but there is little chance of both N’Golo Kante and Jorginho being overlooked. One potential solution is for Lampard to look to a 4-2-3-1 shape in which Kante, an almost certain starter, and Jorginho combine as the double pivot at the base of midfield.

Loftus-Cheek, Kovacic and Ross Barkley could also yet be used there instead of Jorginho, who struggled last season when being man-marked. The Italian would thus benefit from having an additional midfielder playing in similar territory, to free him up to receive possession and build attacks. In the event of both Kante and the other midfielder being negated by the opposition, there will likely be further space freed up further forward, where Chelsea do have options. Willian, Pulisic, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Kovacic, Barkley, Loftus-Cheek, Pedro and Mason Mount are all capable of starting in a line of three behind the lone striker.

If Hudson-Odoi and Pulisic are the likeliest long-term starters, then the final selection could be determined by the role the latter is actually given. Hudson-Odoi is most effective from the right, but if Pulisic is on the left instead of central, Barkley, Loftus-Cheek and Kovacic would vie to start there instead. In the event of the young American playing centrally, Willian and Pedro – both now in their 30s – would compete for selection out wide. Derby used wide players with pace and quality, one-on-one. Lampard will surely expect his wide attackers at Chelsea to play both inside and out.

Olivier Giroud remains the favourite to be Chelsea’s starting striker, ahead of two returning loanees in the shape of Tammy Abraham and Michy Batshuayi. As with Martyn Waghorn at Derby, Giroud is likely best suited to the role of the lone striker playing with his back to goal, holding up play and involving teammates (above), but also acting as a target man for advanced full-backs delivering crosses.

Even in the event of Lampard retaining his 4-3-3 and 4-1-4-1 structures, his personnel can be expected to be similar; Jorginho would likely be sacrificed to use Kante as the single pivot, with one of Loftus-Cheek (below), Kovacic and Pulisic dropping to assist the French midfielder during build-ups. This would also allow the full-backs, most likely Azpilicueta and Alonso, to attack with greater freedom.

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The case for youth
Jody Morris’ appointment as Lampard’s assistant will potentially benefit Chelsea’s talented young players, who he knows so well from his previous spell at the club, as much as the well-publicised transfer ban. They do have senior options in the positions their young players show the greatest potential, however. Mount is another attacking midfielder, and if the injured Hudson-Odoi is their finest prospect, he will still be competing for places with Willian, Pulisic and Pedro.

Abraham may yet be the one to benefit most; Giroud and Batshuayi are rivals for selection, but Abraham’s strengths are in theory better suited to Lampard’s demands than those of Batshuayi, and Giroud – never the most mobile forward around – turns 33 in September.

Further back, Loftus-Cheek’s impressive performances have also strengthened his chances of starting, when fit. This season may present him with the kindest circumstances he will ever have to finally become a regular in Chelsea’s midfield, with neither Barkley nor Kovacic consistently showing enough last season to nail down a starting spot under the new manager.

One thing is for certain: that Lampard, one of Stamford Bridge’s favourite sons as a player, will get more time than many of his predecessors to stamp his mark on the club as manager. Only time will tell if he needs it.

Frank Lampard

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