It is that time of the year again where we sit down and review the season based on our expectations at the beginning and the outcomes at the end. What a season it has been, up till January it looked like any other normal one and then the Covid hit and the world went into lockdown. June should have seen the Euro’s commence but instead we were treated to the Europe’s leagues resuming to finish what they had started. It has been a tough year but football has provided respite and a bit of continuity in a time when no one knows for certain what’s going to happen next. Chelsea’s first season under Frank Lampard came to an end on Saturday as we lost our 2nd leg Round of 16 Champions League tie to Bayern Munich. In this post we will look into each competition and whether it matched our goals or not.
Chelsea’s Premier League season started an year ago yesterday on August 11th 2019 as we travelled to Manchester to play United. The game ended 4-0 although funnily enough it didn’t fee like a 4-0 game. Chelsea had played well but United did well on the counter and exploited our defence. The poor defence would be a theme that would stick to this Chelsea side for the rest of the season. We would get our first win under Lampard away at Norwich City on matchday 3. Our first 6 games saw us win 2, draw 2 and lose 2 and at the end of matchday 6 we were 11th in the table. What followed starting matchday 7 was winning run of 6 games and by the end of matchday 12 we were 3rd in the table. Following matchday 9 we would never drop out of the top four for the rest of the season even given the rollercoaster ride it was. The winter period following matchday 13 was another one in which we lost our momentum and for about the 3rd season running we lost steam. Up till matchday 28 we won 5, drew 4, and lost 7. The wins actually came against tougher opposition as we beat the likes of Spurs twice and Arsenal along with Burnley. Once again though we dropped points against West Ham, Everton, Bournemouth, Southampton, Newcastle and Brighton all teams that would end up in the bottom 10. Matchday 29 was the last game before lockdown in which we beat Everton 4-0 at Stamford Bridge as we had begun to gain some momentum once again. Post lockdown we played 9 games in the league winning 6 and losing 3 as we finished the season in 4th.
Now at the end of last season I compared Sarri’s season to Klopp and Pep’s first full seasons at Liverpool and Manchester City so I thought it would be interesting to put compare Lampard’s first season in charge to these managers as well.
|Lampard 19/20 4th||20 (H 11 A 9)||12 (H 5 A 7)||69 (H 30 A 39) : 54 (H 16 A 38)|
|Sarri 18/19 3rd||21 (H 12 A 9)||8 (H 1 A 7)||63 (H 39 A 24) : 39 (H 12 A 27)|
|Pep 16/17 3rd||23 (H 11 A 12)||6 (H 1 A 5)||80 (H 37 A 43) : 39 (H 17 A 22)|
|Klopp 16/17 4th||22 (H 12 A 10)||6 (H 2 A 4)||78 (H 45 A 33) : 42 (H 18 A 24)|
Now in terms of league position Lampard has not deviated from the norm as we finished 4th and also on goal difference. This season Chelsea finished with 66 points, 33 points behind 1st placed Liverpool and 4 points above 5th. Last season Sarri finished with 72 points, 26 points behind City and 2 points above 5th. Pep in 16/17 managed 78 points, 15 points behind Chelsea and 3 points above 5th. Klopp managed 2 less points in that same season. Based on the points and gaps one thing is evident and that is that the gulf between the top 2 and the rest is at an all time high. City and Liverpool have invested over the last 4 season and have reached another level while the rest have stagnated.
Lampard is in and around the wins as well maintaining the trend of teams doing better at home than away. The interesting point is that during the first half of the season Lampard’s Chelsea were no where near as good at home than they were away. That trend seems to have flipped in the new year. It is the losses where Lampard is an outlier having lost 12 games this season. 5 defeats at home and 7 away is something we need to improve on especially given the fact we only drew 6 games this season.
When it comes to goals scored our last two seasons are no where near Pep and Klopp’s 16/17 seasons. Pep had Aguero who scored 20 goals that season and De Bruyne who had 19 assists while Klopp had Coutinho, Mane and Firmino who all scored 10 plus goals in the league that season. Lampard does out perform Sarri in goals scored as we managed 6 more goals than last season without a certain Eden Hazard. It’s in goals conceded where we took our biggest hit as we conceded 54 goals no where near as good as last season or Pep and Klopps first seasons.
|Lampard 19/20 4th||619 (2nd)||210 (3rd)||33.9 (8th)|
|Sarri 18/19 3rd||597 (2nd)||189 (4th)||31.7 (12th)|
|Pep 16/17 3rd||633 (3rd)||215 (3rd)||34 (9th)|
|Klopp 16/17 4th||639 (2nd)||236 (2nd)||36.9 (3rd)|
In attack Lampard has actually done really well this season, we have done better than last season and are in and around the top managers. It’s the percentage that is concerning. Now Klopp has a good percentage because he had 3 lethal finishers in front of goal in 16/17 and he went on to add Salah to the mix the season after, no one can forget the Egyptians first season at Liverpool. Pep only had Aguero who managed 20 goals that season the next highest goal scorers were Sterling and Jesus with 7 each. 17/18 would see Pep’s philosophy really kick in as Aguero managed 21, with Sterling managing 18 along with Jesus and Sane managing 13 and 10 respectively. Sarri really only had Eden Hazard last season as the Belgian managed 16 goals, with Pedro scoring 8 and Loftus-Cheek scoring 6. Higuain, and Morata didn’t cut it in the league and Giroud was lethal in the Europa League. Lampard had Tammy and Giroud this season as one scored 15 goals and the other 8. Willian, Pulisic, and Mount made up the top five with 25 goals between them. The fact that we have added Werner, and Ziyech to the mix for next season only bodes well for our conversion chances. As a club over the last 3-4 seasons we have been extremely wasteful in front of goal and it’s cost us dearly. This season does bode well for the future.
|Gls Against (P 90)||Shots on Target Against||Save %|
|Lampard 19/20 4th||1.42 (11th)||115 (18th)||.548 (20th)|
|Sarri 18/19 3rd||1.03 (3rd)||120 (18th)||.683 (11th)|
|Pep 16/17 3rd||1.03 (4th)||105 (20th)||.648 (19th)|
|Klopp 16/17 4th||1.11 (5th)||114 (17th)||.658 (15th)|
Finally I want to look at our defensive records and that is where the proof really lies. I want to first look at shots on target against and in the case of this stat the lower the team is the better. We were 18th this season so its a myth that we were flooding in shots left right and centre. The same goes for Sarri, Klopp and Pep they all conceded very few shots on target. Given this stat we should do relatively well when it comes to goals scored against us right? Wrong. We finished 11th in that ranking compared to finishing 3rd last season. Now last season we had Kepa as the goalkeeper but our defence was different. This season we had the likes of Reece James, Zouma, and Tomori thrown into the mix and it felt like Lampard was never able to select his starting centre back pair. Every single centre back was prone to a mistake some more than others while our most consistent left back was Azpilicueta.
The other side of the page is the save %, our defence while inconsistent still didn’t concede many shots but we finished 20th in save percentage dead bottom. Chelsea was the only team with a save percentage below 60%, and that falls down to the goalkeeper. Now the defence and the goalkeeper are a cohesive unit but our defence was statistically better than last season but Kepa was drastically worse. Pep and Klopp suffered similar problems in their first full seasons as the stats show and they went out and fixed it in the transfer window. Pep literally bought a whole new back line with Ederson, Laporte, Mendy, Walker, and Danilo all joining the squad. That is one goalkeeper, 2 right backs, one left back, and one centre back. Klopp would make his changes over the course of the next few seasons with Van Dijk and Robertson first joining the club in 17/18 followed by Alisson in 18/19. While one can argue the defences have still had their problems the goalkeepers are the one that have made the biggest difference to the teams.
The Premier League has been a mixed bag for Chelsea but one with a lot to learn from. I predicted the youth to step up and for us to finish in the top four but also endure a period of tough results so I was bang on the buck. Lampard will know what we need for next season to improve and we are making some very wise purchases.
Champions League Round of 16
Our Champions League run ended with a loss to Bayern Munich in the round of 16 with an aggregate of 7-1 but it wasn’t all bad. Our campaign started with a 0-1 loss to Valencia at a time when we were suffering to win at home. We went on to win away at Lille and Ajax keeping a clean sheet in Amsterdam as well. The 4-4 game at home against Ajax will be one that will fondly remain in Chelsea fans hearts forever, everyone lost their minds when Reece James scored that equaliser. We went on to draw away at Valencia and beat Lille at home. I expected us to reach the quarters and we got close I didn’t think we would get Bayern though. The experience our young team gained from playing their first season in the Champions League will be invaluable next season and the fact that we have added Werner and Ziyech to the mix only adds to that experience.
FA Cup Final
Our FA Cup run also had some great games, we beat Forrest, Hull, Liverpool, Leicester, and United to reach the final with Liverpool, and United particularly comforting wins. The loss to Arsenal came under debatable circumstances with the referee playing for Arsenal as well but we also didn’t show up for the game after scoring first. Still reaching a final with a young squad is always commendable.
Carabao Cup 4th Round
It was a short journey in the Carabao Cup as we beat Grimsby 7-1 and then lost to Manchester United 1-2 at Stamford Bridge. Revenge was taken in the FA Cup though.
Uefa Super Cup
We played the Super Cup against Liverpool in Istanbul. We finished regular time at 1-1 and then finished extra time at 2-2 with Giroud and Jorginho providing the goals. We ended up losing on penalties to Liverpool 5-4 but there was one point I took away from the final. Abraham missed the decisive penalty similar to how a young Lukaku missed the decisive penalty against Bayern in 2013. Lampard put his arm around Abraham and instilled confidence and he bounced back from that to score 18 goals in the season while Lukaku was shunned off to Everton by Mourinho where the Belgian more than proved his worth. It just showed the mentality of this team.
A season without a transfer window a season with many academy players, a season without Eden Hazard a season with an inexperienced legend at the helm. All in all it was a rollercoaster ride, a low key start to reaching a high then plummeting down, then a rise back up interrupted by Covid and then a good end to the season overall. Lampard and the team will have much to think about before the 20/21 season starts in September. Werner and Ziyech are already part of the team and hopefully Havertz joins soon and that should sort out us going forward. It is in defence where we need to set our sights and make some smart purchases. I trust in the new Chelsea to do this and as far as first steps by a manager go Lampard has taken strong ones and hopefully it is a long and successful journey ahead. COME ON YOU BLUES!!!