The Blues have been rejuvenated under the Stamford Bridge legend – and they’re ready to take on the champions
Manchester City v Chelsea, Saturday 23 November, 5pm, Sky Sports Premier League/HD (CH 512/502)
August 2019. It’s the opening weekend of the new Premier League season and Chelsea have just been battered 4-0 by Manchester United at Old Trafford in Frank Lampard’s first competitive game in charge.
The scoreline may have flattered United, but this was a rude awakening for Lampard’s relatively youthful Chelsea side. Selling 32-year-old defender David Luiz on deadline day suddenly looked like a very bad idea (which, considering some of his erratic displays in the past, tells you everything about their defensive performance that afternoon).
Three months on, though, everything is rosy at the Bridge. Under Lampard, the Blues have developed a thrilling attacking style that’s seen them fly up to third in the table. But they’re now about to face a major challenge: taking on Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium, live on Sky Sports Premier League.
Here, we cast our tactical eye over what Lampard has done to make Chelsea one of the most exciting teams in England…
Last season, short, snappy passing was the order of the day when Chelsea tried to break through opposition lines. But that’s not to Lampard’s taste. “We attack with the full-backs and we are trying to find the solution in the box with more crossing and shooting maybe than last season,” captain César Azpilicueta told reporters. Forget tiki-taka: it’s all about using the flanks and having a proper go. And the fans are loving it.
Lampard the player was known for many things, including 30-yard screamers and spraying sublime passes all over the pitch, but harrying the opposition? Not so much. However, Lampard the manager demands his charges hustle as much as possible when they’re not in possession. Sitting back and letting other teams come on to them is something the former Blues midfielder tries to avoid. And for good reason, bearing in mind that heavy defeat to Man Utd. Since then, Chelsea have controlled matches with an intense attacking game – and they’ve only lost to leaders Liverpool in the Premier League.
If last season felt like the Eden Hazard Show (no other player in the squad came close to the Belgian’s 16 goals and 15 assists in the Premier League), there’s a more even distribution of the goods up front for the Blues this term. Midfielders such as the blossoming Mason Mount and the dynamic Christian Pulisic continue to take pressure off main striker Tammy Abraham, who’s been in sizzling form himself – reaching double figures for Prem goals before mid-November.
When you’ve got a towering target man like Abraham stalking the penalty area, it makes sense to use him. Chelsea were reluctant to pump balls into their strikers last season (former boss Maurizio Sarri has no time for going long), whereas a key aspect of their play this term is allowing midfield runners in behind their number nine. The result? A more varied and unpredictable approach in the final third that keeps opposition defenders on their toes throughout the 90 minutes.
When is Man City v Chelsea on TV?
You can watch the two teams square off live on Sky Sports Premier League/HD (CH 512/502) on Saturday 23 November. Coverage starts at 5pm.
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