Chelsea have been the most dominant force in the transfer market this summer (ed.note: at least until Manchester City sign Lionel Messi), taking advantage of the money piled up during the transfer ban as well as the pandemic situation that has prevented most teams from spending big.
But as is often the case when a bunch of new, key players are added to a squad, it takes a little while for the team to start functioning smoothly. As the friendly against Brighton showed, new arrivals will require a bit of time to build chemistry with the teammates and tactics — though the quality of the players in question would suggest that things are only going to look more and more positive.
At least that’s what Lampard’s hoping for, as he said in his post-match interview.
"We have an idea to try to add to improve, as you should do at a club of our level, and we know that has not been absolutely possible for us, and we knew the ban and all this talk, and it was important for me to try to improve the squad and with the players that we are bringing in, it feels that way, but we need to be careful of getting too far ahead of ourselves because we need to give time to players to come in and adapt, to the way I want us to play and to their team-mates, but I think the moves we are making our positive, so I am excited and then it is up to us to get our heads down and work very hard."
Hakim Ziyech and Timo Werner, who have been training with the team since July, wasted no time in showing their worth. Chelsea’s goal, scored inside of 4 minutes, came from a customary Ziyech ball whipped in from the right flank to the far post, where a mistimed header from Callum Hudson-Odoi was bounced upon by Timo Werner, to finish effortlessly. And while no further goals would arrive, Ziyech kept spraying beautiful passes all over the pitch while Werner looked tireless and involved in every good bit of play in the game — as good off the ball as on it.
"I thought Timo was really sharp and bright. He got his goal really early in the game, he showed some of the qualities that I know very well he has so I am very excited about having him in the squad. I thought his work rate and everything about him was a great little start for him and Hakim Ziyech the same, some of his contributions and passing and quality levels were great.
"Ziyech has a bit of a knock on his knee, a little bit of a small twist which we will have to assess, hopefully it is not too bad, but in the performances they were both really good."
(Ed.note: and yes, that’s still a very optimistic initial assessment for an injury, and the immediate reaction from the player, that looked like this:)
Werner and Ziyech are of course not the only two new arrivals. Chelsea wanted to upgrade the left back position, after both Marcos Alonso and Emerson failed to make the most of the opportunities last season. Lampard put all his eggs in one basket with Ben Chilwell, and fortunately the club managed to deliver even though there were plenty of other, cheaper, but perhaps not as good options available.
Naturally the gaffer’s delighted to have his main target in the bag and expects the 23-year-old England international to be a force at either end of the pitch.
"With Ben Chilwell, he is a player I know very well, he has been pretty much England’s first-choice left-back now in recent times. Great qualities in terms of how he can join in, he is athletic, his physicality, the way he plays and the quality of his left foot, so for us in terms of how he can help out on the left side, attack-wise and defensively, which of course is always first and foremost, I am excited to work with him so I think he is a great addition. At 23 years of age, it is a really positive one for us."
Defense should indeed be first and foremost, especially after Chelsea conceded a staggering 54 goals in 38 Premier League games last season, bringing into question the defensive tactics of Lampard as well as the individual qualities of the defenders and goalkeeper.
While Chelsea are yet to address the keeping position, center back has received an instant upgrade. Thiago Silva is not only a proven winner who's still operating at a high level but also should be a mentor for the young players to look up to and learn from. A mixture of youth and experience is the recipe for success and Lampard believes Thiago's signing will prove crucial.
"With Thiago Silva, we are looking at a player I know very well, pretty much as we all do. He brings great experience for us, he is still playing at a massively high level, as we saw in the Champions League final and games towards the final, so I expect him to come and bring that, bring his experience, leadership and his qualities. It is going to be very important for us.
"We have a relatively young squad, we saw that last year, there were games afterwards when I was probably asking for more voice and some more leadership in different ways and he brings that naturally straightaway, and also on the pitch he can help talk and be the player that he is which means affecting others. On those levels I hope he brings that. I am pretty sure he will with the qualities we know he has, so I am excited for when he joins up."
- Frank Lampard; source: Chelsea FC
Here's to all the new signings meshing well and fast enough to mount a serious title challenge next season!