The arrival of Frank Lampard at Stamford Bridge as manager has been met with admiration from every corner of the club. Now the club are finally going to allow their young players the chance to shine and in the ex-Chelsea legend, they have a manager that truly believes in allowing the youngsters a chance to flourish.
However, like many top managers, his first decision must be to decide on a formation that will allow his team to flourish.
The set-up is crucial in how the club will operate throughout the season, whether that be with a back three like under Antonio Conte or in a 4-3-3 structure that had been prominent throughout Jose Mourinho’s early teams and last season’s Europa League campaign under Maurizio Sarri.
The formation that Lampard has employed throughout pre-season has been the 4-2-3-1. The two holding players will likely be N’golo Kante and Jorginho, which would mean a welcome return to his favoured position for the Frenchman. The club are undoubtedly stronger when Kante is deployed in this role, and this set-up would immediately ensure that the Blues are harder to beat.
Further forward is where Lampard will allow his younger players the chance to shine. When fit Callum Hudson-Odoi will operate from the right, with Christian Pulisic down the left. The USA international has enjoyed an excellent pre-season with the winger scoring twice in the club’s win over Red Bull Salzburg.
Mason Mount will be deployed in the number ten position with Tammy Abraham played ahead of him at the lone striker. Mount’s ability to settle in the Premier League will ultimately decide whether he is able to keep hold of this position, with both Ross Barkley and Ruben Loftus-Cheek offering competition for the youngster.
The 4-3-3 set-up has done wonders for the Blues over the years, and would Lampard be keen to continue using the system but move around the players in the system. Kante could return to the holding base of the set-up as opposed to Jorginho, while Matteo Kovacic, Mount, Loftus-Cheek and Barkley will compete for the other two midfield spots. The front three will again include both Hudson-Odoi and Pulisic with Abraham through the middle.
Olivier Giroud and Michy Batshuayi will also offer competition to the Englishman, but it is expected that Lampard will enter the season with Abraham being his number one striker after his tally of 26 goals in 40 matches last season for Aston Villa.
The backline will likely consist of Cesar Azpilicueta and Antonio Rudiger, while the remaining central defender and left-back positions could be a lot closer to call. Emerson has impressed throughout pre-season and may be given a starting berth over Marcos Alonso, while Kurt Zouma, Andreas Christensen and Fikayo Timori will compete for the central position.
Lampard could again employ the formation that was made famous by Antonio Conte. The Chelsea man used the structure on various occasions last season with Derby, and the players already at Stamford Bridge will already know how to operate within this system.
The wide positions will offer a variety of choices, but the problem with this system would be how to get the best out of Hudson-Odoi and Pulisic, who would rather focus on attacking rather than being tied down with defensive duties. Also, the question of who will start alongside Abraham would be a tricky one to answer with Giroud, the likely narrow winner over Batshuayi.
The midfield would offer a chance to include Loftus-Cheek, Mount and Kante, while Azpilicueta had his best season in a Chelsea shirt as part of a back three. However, it remains unlikely that Lampard will use this system as his preferred set-up.