Bengaluru, Sept 3: The international break is here and for the club football fans, it is quite frustrating to have a break just after three weeks. But for Frank Lampard and Chelsea, it could not have come at a better time.
Chelsea embraced home one of their beloved sons in Frank Lampard as he was announced as their new manager replacing Sarri however, his dream management job has come with a heavy package where he is incapable of signing any players during his first year in the job with Chelsea forbidden by FIFA from buying anyone.
Lampard has been utilising the club’s prestigious youth academy and so far it has been working, with the likes of Tammy Abraham and Mason Mount becoming the stars of the show at Chelsea. However, the squad is still very depleted because of injuries to some of the stars.
After a heavy start in the opening weekend, Lampard started to gain a little securing five points from their opening four games but there is still enough work to be done.
The new season started off with a 4-0 defeat at the hands of United. Lampard's men were lucky to draw Leicester 1-1 in the game week 2. They finally managed to scoop their first 3 points of the current campaign on Saturday - a 3-2 victory at Norwich City before succumbing to a 2-2- draw against promoted Sheffield at home last week.
Currently, Chelsea have six first-team players out injured, including Ruben Loftus-Cheek who is expected to be unavailable until November at the earliest.
But the other side of the international break could see Chelsea have several returning stars, adding to Lampard’s options.
The major vital inclusion could be of Kante who missed the last two weeks game due to injury. The Frenchman did not have a full pre-season after a knee injury picked up towards the end of last season. When he did return to the starting XI, with a wonderful performance against Liverpool in the Super Cup but it was short-lived as an ankle injury ruled him out of two games. He now has been spared of international duties by French side and is expected to fully feature in Chelsea's next game.
Antonio Rudiger is another vital name who should make the cut in the starting XI after the break. There is a massive issue at the back in Blues defence who have conceded nine times in four games in the Premier League.
The west London outfit most recently shipped two goals to Sheffield United when they were 2-0 up to throw away two points when they should have won. Zouma-Christensen pair has been preferred by Lampard, but the former has been a hit and miss so far. And Rudiger who arguably was one of the best players under Sarri last season and now expected to replace him, which could be a big boost for the English manager.
He is back in training and has played in two games for Chelsea’s developmental squad, preparing for his return after the international break.
Chelsea's another big issue lately has been of the right-back slot. Skipper Azpilicueta has been one of the best players in the league in the last couple of years but this term the player looked completely out of fashion.
In four Premier League appearances this season, Azpilicueta has also lost possession 76 times – more than any other Chelsea player – and been dribbled past by opposition players on three occasions – the worst among Blues defenders. Lampard as of now had no choice barring the Spaniard to put in right-back but shortly after the international break, Chelsea will embrace Reece James into the first-team squad.
The 19-year-old enjoyed a stellar campaign with Wigan Athletic last season but his return to Chelsea was halted by an injury picked up while representing England in the Toulon Tournament. But now he is already being tipped to replace Azpilicueta sooner rather than later.
Willian is also likely to return to Chelsea’s starting XI after making just one substitute appearance while another attacker Pedro will also be available for selection after missing out for two weeks.
This break thus may be a blessing in disguise for Lampard who now will have more pool of players to select and definitely such options will be a real booster for the Chelsea legend who is still looking for his second win of the season. They will next play Wolves in a tricky away match at Molineux stadium and the likely return of some of the big names now could see Lampard making some adjustments in the system.