Ten games into the Premier League season, Chelsea are in the thick of the top four race, are in control of our Champions League group, and making progress in the League Cup (pending Wednesday’s game). So far, so good for Frank Lampard & Co.
It’s surely about as well as anyone might have imagined things would go — and most certainly, when we compare Chelsea’s season so far to the other teams we all expected to be contending for the two spots beneath Manchester City and Liverpool. Arsenal are in fifth, but four points behind the Blues. Manchester United are in seventh, but seven points behind, and Spurs are floundering firmly in midtable, having won just one of their last five games, losing three. Chelsea, tied with Leicester City on 20 points and just two points behind Manchester City, are part of a top four who have created a small, but noticeable separation from the rest of the league at the quarter-mark of the season.
But of course that means we still have three-quarters of the season to go. We still have half the games to play in the Champions League group stage, and we need to get past an embattled and cornered Manchester United on Wednesday to advance in the League Cup.
Things are going excellently at the moment: seven wins on the bounce, even a sprinkling of clean sheets. But things can turn in football in an instant. Frank Lampard knows that as well as anyone, but he isn’t the one playing the games now. His task is to ensure his players maintain their levels and continue the steady improvements we’ve seen in the first few months.
“I am just really pleased where we have got to. We have to be aware that we can improve. We have to be aware of getting overconfident in this moment. We don’t want to start putting crazy expectations on ourselves from within … let everyone else talk.
“But from within, we have to know it is game by game and how we can get better day by day. At the minute we have that feeling and it is my job to keep that.”
Since day one, Lampard has been preaching passion, aggression, energy, bravery, adaptability, and above all, hard work. He’s been instructing up-tempo football with constant movement, quick passing, high pressing and defending from the front. These aren’t revolutionary ideas, and they don’t need to be. They are solid ideas and a reasonable approach that lead to wins when executed properly, and as a team rather than a collection of individuals.
As a team, Chelsea can not only overcome the loss of someone like Eden Hazard (remember Eden Hazard?), but can go grow beyond the limitation of having to rely on one player to provide literally half the team’s production, if not more.
“People talk about transition and obviously there is a transition when you lose a player as impactful as Eden. He scored or created nearly 50 per cent of our goals last year so you have to accept that and look where else in our team we can come up with that sort of end product and we do have the players to do it.
“We have attacking players that want to score goals, a team that want to move the ball quickly, we want to get the ball into wide areas. Sometimes we won’t be able to play through teams. At the minute we are scoring goals so we have to continue in that vein. Everyone wants an Eden Hazard in the team, don’t get me wrong, but we haven’t got one now. But we have got good players and it was important that we try to be an attacking force.
“Chelsea fans [want] to see a team who are trying to play attractive football and that is the way I want us to play. Of course we have to be able to defend as well but I want us to defend up the pitch. If we can, we want to move the ball really quickly with a view to creating chances and the players are doing that. We work hard on it in training.”
-Frank Lampard; source: Telegraph
Chelsea are in a good moment, with room to grow, to build, both in the short- and the long-term. This could be the start of something truly special, indeed. But that just means we have to work even harder, starting ... now.