Frank Lampard will be facing some difficult choices to make over the coming weeks.
In line with the Blues’ embarrassing 4-0 defeat to United, a talking point has emerged over his starting lineup.
Former Chelsea boss, Jose Mourinho, now a pundit on Sky Sports, said a youthful Chelsea side lacked experience as he questioned Lampard’s show of faith in Mount, 20, and Abraham, 21 when more senior figures were left on the bench.
Lampard was stunned by Mourinho’s criticism of Mount in the immediate aftermath of the defeat at Old Trafford – criticism which saw captain Azpilicueta jump to the defence of the two academy graduates.
“If they are here it is because they deserve to be,” said Azpilicueta. “They are fighting in every training session. We trust in them.
“All the boys, they train to play for the Chelsea first team since they were young and now we have a massive opportunity to create a fantastic group, to learn from every game.
“Obviously everyone would like to start in a better way but we have to face the reality and become stronger from it.”
Mount and Abraham impressed in spells against United but Chelsea were undone too easily on the counter-attack by the home side. Two goals from Marcus Rashford added to strikes from Anthony Martial and debutant Daniel James as United started the season in impressive style.
Taking a second look at the game, was that the best starting XI Frank Lampard could have turned out with?
For some, preseason games are simply friendlies and not anything to take too seriously.
For the Chelsea boss, it’s an issue of much significance as he highlighted impressive performances of his youngsters in pre-season as the major reason why they’re getting chances.
And from the look of things, he’s adamant on sticking with them.
During the defeat to United, Mason Mount and Tammy Abraham looked sharp but it’s fair to say they lacked that proper cutting edge to be decisive enough in final decisions. One can’t blame them though as they’re still only teenagers with little or no “major” experience.
You suddenly get the feeling that an Olivier Giroud starting in attack for Chelsea could have grabbed a goal or two that could have changed the dynamics of the whole game.
Tammy Abraham in particular, was called out for being “lazy” as he was dispossessed in the event that led to United’s second goal.
Alonso lacking on the flank as well was also evident as the free-flowing exchange that’s normally seen between a certain Hazard and the Spaniard was strongly disappeared.
Although, for a large part of last season, the duo of Olivier Giroud and Marcos Alonso looked out of “steam” and it’s perhaps with this keen eye Frank Lampard has been observing the team.
Giroud, for all his bad credit, still went on to have a brilliant game leading the line in the Blues Europa League final against Arsenal.
Then again, is Lampard right to bring in his young guns early on?
Yes, without a doubt.
It is never a bad policy to integrate youngsters into the team and the Chelsea side currently look balanced with a mix of youth and experience. Balanced squads do better cause the athleticism of the young players to compensate for the more technical approach offered by the senior players.
Ask a Pep Guardiola or Jurgen Klopp’s for more insight on the above context.
A little more time and they will evolve into top players as they get gel with the team and gain more rhythm.
We all witnessed how a young Raheem Sterling evolved into a top player since getting a first-team nod at a young age.
It’s just one game gone and it’s way too early to be dismissive of a young side. The positive though, is that young players can only get better and better as they age compared to aged players who are just seeking decent game time.
It’s going to be a long season for the Blues; but the hunger, drive and motivation from Lampard’s young guns could ultimately be the extra factor in an “ordinary” looking Chelsea side.