Even the most devout blue probably accepts that the Champions League is done and dusted after the lesson dished out by Bayern Munich on Tuesday night.
Beyond that, the three-goal reverse provided more evidence of what Chelsea must do to push on next season.
Stick with Lampard
Let’s get one thing straight, Lampard is not perfect but some of the hysteria created off the back of a couple of losses throughout the season is laughable. When Lampard walked in the door last summer he had one year’s worth of management experience under his belt, came into a club under a transfer embargo and a dressing room missing Eden Hazard.
Since then, he’s shown to be strong willed – see the decisions to sell David Luiz and drop Kepa – but more than that he’s put his faith in youth, improved the style of football on display and, as it stands, the team sit in the top four, which at the start of the season would have been seen as a huge achievement given the situation.
Improve the defence
So far this season Chelsea have shipped 37 goals in 27 league games giving them the second worst ‘goals against’ record in the top 10. Of course, shipping goals isn’t a direct reflection on the defence itself and a consistently fit N’golo Kante would make a big difference.
Behind the Frenchman though, changes also need to happen; for one it’s widely believed that Marcus Alonso will move on and a centre half is also a must.
Leicester full back Ben Chilwell has been linked and former academy product Nathan Ake – who is now at Bournemouth – is rumoured to be on Lampard’s list. Both would instantly improve the starting XI and along with firming up the backline, would aid the style Lampard wishes to play.
Ake has grown into a dominant centre half during his years away from Stamford Bridge but is comfortable carrying the ball out from the back whilst Chilwell has one of the best end products of all the defenders in England.
Filling the Hazard void
Hazard moving to Real Madrid last year was obviously a huge loss to the side and although Christian Pulisic arrived he is no Hazard and, even with Hakim Ziyech set to join, the team is still crying out for at least one more player in a similar mould – particularly if Willian and/or Pedro move on in the summer.
Lampard is a known admirer of Wilfried Zaha, who will almost definitely leave fellow London club Crystal Palace in the summer. The question mark is over his potential valuation though with Palace previously holding out for £70m – a figure that probably doesn’t represent value for money given his return of just three goals and five assists so far this season.
With that in mind, Chelsea could look elsewhere with Villarreal’s 20-year-old winger Samuel Chukwueze potentially coming on the radar as a cheaper alternative. The Nigerian has enough pace to challenge a stallion in the odds of the Belmont Stakes race and he combines it with decent dribbling and finish qualities.
Support for Tammy
It’s fair to say Tammy Abraham has exceeded expectations this season as he’s bagged 15 goals in all competitions but, as with a lot of the youngsters, his form has slowed up with just two of his goals coming since Christmas. That’s not a slight on the job Abraham has done leading the line but he’s only 22 and it’s too much to expect him to play every game at 100%.
Edinson Cavani was linked in January but a summer transfer is likely to see Lampard aim more long term and Luka Jovic – also 22 – could emerge as a target. The Serbian would command a sizeable fee given Real Madrid forked out in the region of £60m for him 12 months ago but it would be a worthwhile outlay because, despite only having two Real goals to his name, he proved prolific in the Bundesliga with Eintracht Frankfurt prior to his move and Lampard could get the best out of him.
There you have it, the Bayern result might have you feeling a little blue, but the future is bright under Lampard and a loosening of the purse strings could put Chelsea back amongst the true contenders.