It’s been an incredibly tight start to the 2020/21 Premier League season. At the time of writing, just six points separate table-toppers Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool, who are joint on points, from mid-table Manchester City.
However, whilst most teams have suffered with inconsistency in the opening 10 weeks of this tightly scheduled season, it seems several of the top sides are finally starting to find their feet after all getting off to slow starts.
Since blowing a three-goal lead against West Ham, Spurs have gone on a five-game unbeaten streak, propelling them to the top of the Premier League table, whilst Liverpool have battled their injury woes to ensure they continue to put up a fight to defend their title.
However, whilst José Mourinho’s and Jürgen Klopp’s sides are stealing the headlines when it comes to who is going to be crowned the champions come the end of the 2020/21 campaign, not many people are paying to attention to Frank Lampard’s Chelsea.
Since successive draws against Southampton and Manchester United, the Blues have put together a four-game unbeaten streak in the Premier League, which has seen them climb up to third, sitting just two points short of Liverpool and Spurs.
After being restricted with a transfer ban last summer and failing to bring in any new recruits in January, Lampard was given free rein in the build-up to this campaign, and he took full advantage of Roman Abramovich’s hefty bank account.
The former Chelsea midfielder splashed £250 million on the likes of England international Ben Chilwell and German duo Timo Werner and Kai Havertz. However, the Stamford Bridge side still weren’t considered by pundits, fans, and the Premier League odds alike as title contenders.
In fact, up until now Chelsea’s name hasn’t even mentioned in the same breath as the words ‘potential Premier League winners’, even though they have ironed out much of last season’s major issues, which saw them finish over 30 points off the pace set by Liverpool.
The first of which was their defence and incompetent goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga, who cost the Blues a world-record fee for a shot-stopper of £71.6m. Whilst, at the time of their arrival, veteran defender Thiago Silva and Rennes goalie Edouard Mendy didn’t seem to, on paper, improve Chelsea substantially, their performances prove otherwise.
Aside from a slip-up which led to West Brom taking a 3-0 lead over the Blues in his Premier League debut, Silva has been fantastic ever since, and his formidable partnership with Kurt Zouma spurred the Blues onto a run of five games without conceding, a far cry from their performances just a few months ago.
Of course, Mendy has had a huge part to play too. The goalie, who was a recommendation of Chelsea legend Petr Čech, has kept eight clean sheets in his 11 outings across all competitions for the Blues thus far.
At the other end of the pitch, Chelsea have been in free-scoring form. With 22 goals in the Premier League, the Blues, along with Liverpool, have found the net more than any other team in the competition.
Chelsea’s 2-1 win over Rennes in the Champions League, which was their 10th game undefeated in a row across all competitions, qualified the west London team for the latter stages of the tournament.
That means that Lampard has the option to rotate his squad for the remaining two games, and focus on his side’s Premier League matches during this upcoming hectic period, whilst the likes of Liverpool and Spurs still need to pick up another few points to secure their place in the knockout stages of Europe.
Chelsea may not be feeling the pressure of being called title contenders at the minute, but if they keep performing the way they are, then they will certainly fall into that bracket soon enough, and it’ll be interesting to see how the novice Lampard and his largely inexperienced team deal with that pressure.