Frank Lampard has guided his Chelsea side into next season’s Champions League after a comfortable 2-0 home victory over Wolves.
Despite the difficult moments, despite the goalkeeping conundrum despite the defensive woes, it is job done.
It has been a season of transition at Stamford Bridge, with the emergence of young players a key part of Lampard’s post-Hazard Chelsea project.
But who have been the stars of the season? And who have been the disappointments?
Player of the Season
In truth, this season’s Player of the year award at Chelsea is an incredibly difficult choice.
Different players have stepped up to the mark when others have dipped in form with no player showing true consistency over the whole season.
Tammy Abraham’s 15 Premier League goals ensured a good return, particularly in the season’s early months. Meanwhile, Christian Pulisic had two exceptional bursts of form at different stages of the season.
Mateo Kovacic has arguably been the most consistent of the senior players. The likes of Olivier Giroud and Willian have also starred at varying stages of the campaign.
However, the most consistent and, ultimately, the standout player has been Mason Mount.
The youngster contributed seven goals and five assists in 37 league appearances, marking a breakthrough year. Mount’s development has been clear to see and his free-kick against Wolves was the biggest moment of his career to date.
Despite the pending arrival of Kai Havertz, there is no doubt that Frank Lampard sees Mount as a potential star of his team. His goal threat coupled with excellent tactical quality in and out of possession ensure potential star quality. Chelsea have usually been at their best with Mount in the team.
His energetic style of play is often the catalyst for the team to press efficiently and regain possession. Mount is a key player for Lampard’s Chelsea in the long-term and his debut season has been impressive.
Game of the season
The 2-1 victory over Manchester City may have been overshadowed by Liverpool winning the title but it is the clearest vindication of Frank Lampard as a manager thus far.
Chelsea defended resolutely, attacked with purpose and deservedly beat last season’s champions whilst recording 4.23 xG, an astonishing figure considering the level of opposition.
With this, and victory in the FA Cup semifinal over Manchester United, Lampard ensured he has beaten all five managers in the ‘big six.’ It was this performance against City, however, which was most impressive.
Simply put, Champions League is a bare minimum requirement at Chelsea under Roman Abramovich. With an FA Cup Final against Arsenal to come, a top-four finish and glory in the Cup would represent an excellent season for Chelsea, given the exceptional circumstances which they faced at the outset.
Frank Lampard was reluctant to glorify the achievement of finishing fourth, emphasising how competing with Liverpool and Manchester City must be the target.
Signings of Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech appear to add additional firepower to Lampard’s armoury. There are, however, doubts over Kepa Arrizabalaga in goal and Frank Lampard is certainly eyeing a replacement. A left-back is also a priority, with Ben Chilwell and Marc Cucurella amongst the names mentioned to fill this berth.
What looks to be certain, though, is that Frank Lampard is being heavily backed to develop a squad ready to compete. Lampard’s readiness to integrate young players into the team has revived Chelsea.
There is a much-coveted youthful energy within the setup. With the coronavirus pandemic likely to restrict most clubs in the market, Chelsea appear to be making an aggressive move in their attempts to close the gap. Frank Lampard will be expected to challenge for the title.
With this young squad developing game-by-game, they could be in a position to do so with the right additions.