Frank Lampard is beginning to have some real selection dilemmas throughout his Chelsea attack.
It’s in attacking areas that have the most competition for places, with all Chelsea’s attacking options making meaningful contributions in the 4-0 win away at Krasnodar.
With Edouard Mendy and Thiago Silva making their impact in the defensive part of the team, Lampard must now find his balance in attack. 13 different players have already scored for Chelsea in all competitions, highlighting the depth and quality Lampard has at his disposal.
Lampard looks to have settled upon a 4-2-3-1 formation. Despite opting for a 3-4-3 at Man Utd, he has used a 4-2-3-1 in every other game this season. This is surely, in part, due to a desire to ease Kai Havertz into the team.
Thus far, Havertz has shown signs of his quality with four goals and two assists (plus one penalty won) however, there is more to come from the German.
An issue with Lampard’s easing of Havertz into the side is the subsequent role of Mason Mount. Mount is less effective on the wing than he is in a central role. Lampard clearly wants to find a place for Mount and therefore, a switch to 4-3-3 could allow Mount and Havertz to operate in tandem.
Chelsea have played a system with Mount and Havertz as two “number 8s” on two occasions this season; the second half away at West Brom and for 20 minutes in Krasnodar.
Three goals at the Hawthorns salvaged a point, while three goals in Russia highlighted the attacking potential that this system brings.
Hakim Ziyech was hugely impressive on his first Chelsea start. One goal, four shots-on-target and 87.5% pass completion marked a superb introduction into Lampard’s team.
Lampard was forthcoming in his praise for the Moroccan after the match. Ziyech’s wand of a left-foot gives Chelsea many options in attack, creating new passing angles from wide areas.
Christian Pulisic began to emerge as a top player in the post-lockdown period last season. Pulisic’s return from injury has been managed slowly so far, with his contribution on the field limited until his goal in Krasnodar. Despite this, Pulisic is still Chelsea’s first-choice on the left in the eyes of Lampard.
Callum Hudson-Odoi has done plenty of things right in his limited game-time this season. Arguably Chelsea’s best player in the comeback at West Brom, he took his chance in Russia with the opening goal.
Hudson-Odoi has endured some bad luck since his return from an achilles injury. However, his contribution thus far in 2020/21 has been positive, with the youngster looking to capitalise on any chance he gets to force his way into the forefront of Lampard’s plans.
Tammy Abraham and Olivier Giroud are both behind Timo Werner in the pecking order upfront. Werner has four goals, two assists and three penalties earned so far in his time at the club. It has been a good start, one that can only improve as Lampard finds his best balance in attack.
With Werner as Lampard’s first-choice striker, it is the configuration of the players behind him that Lampard must manage. A 4-3-3 system with N’Golo Kante behind Mount and Havertz could be Lampard’s way of fitting his plethora of attackers into the team. Mount’s engine would be particularly crucial in this system. If defensive structure can be balanced, this system containing Mount and Havertz is certainly an exciting prospect.
A front-three of Ziyech-Werner-Pulisic will get Chelsea fans purring with excitement. With speed, an eye for a pass and dribbling ability, this seems likely to be Lampard’s first-choice attack in weeks ahead. However, the likes of Hudson-Odoi and Abraham will be chomping at the bit to impress, while Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic are also going to feature heavily in Lampard’s thoughts.
Whichever way Lampard chooses to go, Chelsea’s attack appears strong. In a season of unpredictability, one thing that is for certain is that Chelsea are going to scare teams this season.