A talented group!
Central Defensive Midfielders/ Central Midfielders
Jorginho contrary to what some believe had a very good first season in English football. The regista signed from Napoli last season made 54 appearances for Chelsea in all competitions and scored 2 goals both of which came in the Premier League. Now goalscoring has not been Jorginho’s skill set and in the 17/18 season for Napoli he only managed 2 goals in Serie A as well he did manage 4 assists but that was also due to the fact that forwards like Mertens finished off his passes. There are countless videos on youtube showcasing the fact that Jorginho made several passes forward but due to lack of finishing none were converted into assists. All that aside though Jorginho’s main skill set is conducting what happens on the pitch, moving the ball around at a quick pace, making the team tick and everyone works around him. After a good start to the season last year he suffered a bit during the winter period as the whole team did but during the tail end he shined and easily ended the season amongst our better players. Another problem many had with Jorginho was his “defensive contribution” but the stats tell a completely different story. Jorginho topped blocks (7), topped interceptions (63), topped tackles (76), and topped recoveries (274). The argument may be made that he played further back so was more involved defensively but Kante made 275 recoveries in the 16/17 season from a similar position so there is no drop in quality. Offensively Jorginho topped the league in touches (3,551), in passes (3,118), and came 2nd in through balls (34). Jorginho is key to the way Chelsea play and he will prove himself further under Lampard whether thats in a 4-2-3-1, or 4-3-3 formation. Jorginho is nailed on for 1 of the 3 midfield roles.
Playing backup to Jorginho would be Kovacic who was permanently signed from Real Madrid this summer after a season long loan at Chelsea last season. Kovacic made 51 appearances for Chelsea in all competitions and provided 2 assists. Kovacic played all over the midfield 3 for Sarri and his qualities and problem areas were shown throughout the season. Kovacic was brilliant when it came to dribbling and passing the ball around something that made him suit being back up to Jorginho and he had a good game playing the advanced midfielder role at times. Kovacic’s main fault was his lack of goal scoring which led to him being pushed out of the team by Loftus-Cheek. In the Premier League Kovacic made 2 blocks, made 8 inteceptions, but was 3rd in tackles (45), and recoveries (122). Offensively the stats just show that Kovacic had no real impact. Kovacic should primarily play a depth role next season for the likes of Jorginho and at times Kante.
The first name on the team sheet Kante is our best player in terms of quality in his position since Hazard left. A pillar of consistency defensively Kante made 53 appearances last season providing 5 goals and 4 assists. To put that into context Kante had only managed 3 goals in his last 3 seasons in the Premier League and managed 4 under Sarri. Sarri removed the myth that Kante could not play further forward as he showed an ability in dribbling, picking a pass, and finishing. A work in progress in offensively. Stats wise in the league Kante was 2nd in blocks (6), interceptions (44), tackles (74), and recoveries (238). The advanced role meant that he saw a bit less of the defensive phase but these stats also show that Kante was causing havoc further forward and so recovering the ball in higher areas so that Chelsea could counter faster. Offensively amongst Chelsea’s midfielders Kante came in 2nd for touches (2,562), passes (2,021) while in areas like through balls Kante was further down the table. Kante is key to whatever Lampard has in mind whether he’s further forward or at CDM. Kante and Jorginho take up two of the three spots.
Bakayoko was bought in the summer of 2017 as a partner for Kante and replacement for Matic. After what was a good start to his career Bakayoko suffered a dip in form and confidence during the winter period and never quite recovered, aided by the fact that fans and media slagged him off at every chance they got. The club decided to send Bakayoko on loan to AC Milan for the 18/19 season and after a tough start he rose to the occasion and was one of Milan’s better players throughout the season. Bakayoko is a CDM and on his best day he can carry the ball forward and make an impact throughout the midfield while also being strong defensively. Bakayoko made 31 appearances for Milan with an average per game of 2.3 tackles, 1.6 interceptions, and 1.4 clearances. In comparison Kante had 2.1, 1.2, and 0.7. This is not saying that Bakayoko was better than Kante but he did have a good season. With confidence from Lampard he could make some impact as a squad player this season otherwise with his good value at the moment Chelsea should sell him so he can move on and we can move on. I would keep Bakayoko as a squad player.
The younger brother of Nathaniel Chalobah, Trevoh Chalobah spent last season on loan at Ipswich where he was a key figure in defence but also played the CDM role. Chalobah made 44 appearances averaging 1.3 tackles, 1.3 interceptions, and 2 clearances per game. If Lampard and co decide to keep Chalobah he would be a good squad player but with the competition in front of him he would not be starting this season and could be better off on loan.
Ethan Ampadu is a player who spent most of last season on the bench and then injured featuring towards the end of the season. Ampadu is no novice and in the 17/18 season when given a chance he showed what he is capable off defensively in the CDM role and at times further forward. There is talk of Ampadu going on loan and while a Premier League loan is great, if Bakayoko left then I would keep Ampadu in the squad as a backup for Kante.
Ross was bought in January 2018 and played a major role under Sarri last season but got injured in during the latter stage of the season and before that got pushed out by Loftus-Cheek. Barkley made 48 appearances in all competitions last season providing 5 goals and 6 assists. To add a bit more context Barkley started 13 games in the league and made 14 sub appearances scoring 3 and assisting 5. Barkley started the season well and was making an impact with his long range shots and providing goals, but as the season went by Barkley’s impact wained and he barely made any starts towards the end of the season. Barkley averaged 0.8 key passes in 1,243 minutes in the league. Barkey seems to be a confidence player but with players like Loftus-Cheek and now Mount involved Barkley will need to step up massively this season to start games.
20 year old Mason Mount spent last season at Derby County under the management of Lampard his idol. Mount was key in Derby’s season making 38 appearances in the league providing 9 goals and 4 assists. Those 38 appearances were starts for the team and he averaged 1.9 key passes in 3,321 minutes. The stats show that at 20 Mount was having a strong impact last season and had better stats than Barkley albeit with much more game time. Lampard trusts Mount and while he has stated that everyone starts with a clean slate Mount can at least start the first few games while RLC is still recovering from injury. Mount is good in a tackle and progresses the ball well, he has a good shot and and is Lampardesque in his late approaches into the box. In my opinion Mount should be 2nd to RLC next season.
Ruben has a long history at Chelsea at only 23. Starting out as a youth player Ruben was touted as the next big player from the academy but he barely got a chance under the Mourinho and Conte. During the 17/18 season Ruben decided to leave on loan to Crystal Palace where he became a key figure in Roy Hodgson’s side. Ruben then came back last season and Sarri stated that he would feature heavily during the season. The first 6 months saw very little from Ruben as he barely got game time while Sarri stated that Ruben was still learning his system. Ruben made 40 appearances for Chelsea providing 10 goals and 5 assists. In the league Ruben made 6 starts and 18 sub appearances providing 6 goals and 2 assists. Ruben averaged 0.7 key passes in 985 minutes in the league. For all intents and purposes this was Ruben’s breakout season and that is one of the reasons why Sarri should be applauded. Ruben made a huge impact during the tail end of the season but also earlier when called upon and only missed the Europa League final due to injury in a friendly. Ruben is slowly recovering and while he might miss the start of the season he should be back eventually. Ruben is built like a tank, tall and strong but fluid with the ball and the ability to finish and shoot from distance. The stats show what Ruben can do with minimal game time imagine what he could do if he started 30 odd games in the league. Ruben is the final midfielder that should start alongside Kante, and Jorginho.