Chelsea will be without some key pieces when traveling to England’s south coast, but here is the XI we expect Frank Lampard to field.
Chelsea kicks off Frank Lampard’s second season as the manager with a trip to the Amex Stadium amidst a very busy transfer window. Chelsea has recruited brilliantly this summer, giving Lampard the kind of headache every manager wants to have.
The season hasn’t even started yet and the Blues already have injuries to key players though. Who will Lampard give the first chance to impress?
Kepa Arrizabalaga (No. 1) Goalkeeper, Spain
Arrizabalaga has had a rough 2020, everyone will certainly agree with that. Chelsea is closing in on Edouard Mendy and that deal will be announced soon. Nonetheless, Arrizabalaga is still Chelsea’s first choice goalkeeper. Albeit an underperforming first choice, Lampard is fair enough to give the Spaniard a second choice. Arrizabalaga’s road to redemption begins here.
Reece James (No. 24) Right back, England
James still has to work on in significant aspects of his defending, but he has been showing improvements to his overall game. Lampard is integrating James into the first team carefully and he should get the nod against Brighton. James is still learning from Cesar Azpilicueta and the best way to learn is to be on the pitch with him.
Antonio Rudiger (No. 2) Centerback, Germany
This is a tricky one. The one preseason game that Chelsea played did not reflect his better qualities. Thiago Silva is out, so one of Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen has to start; or so it seems. These defenders did not have an excellent last campaign, but they weren’t as bad as some fans would make it sound.
Kurt Zouma (No. 15) Centerback, France
Zouma is arguably Chelsea’s best centerback. Silva is yet to play a Premier League game and until he does, the jury is still out. Zouma was an essential part of Chelsea’s campaign last season and there is no evidence to suggest the same would not be the case this season.
Cesar Azpilicueta (No. 28) Left back, Spain
Azpilicueta is Chelsea’s most reliable defender and has been for the past four or five years. Lampard can afford to play a right-footed left back because he will have enough attacking talents on the pitch, meaning Azpilicueta’s overlapping is a bonus rather than a necessity. Last season, the Blues often found themselves needing to create from the fullback positions, that should not be an issue this year.
Kante (midfielder) France
Kante has looked sharp and fit so far this season, according to the gaffer. The friendly against Brighton showed spectators that Kante will be key to Chelsea’s fortunes this season. Last season was topsy-turvy for Kante due to frequent injuries; all sides want to make sure they avoid that situation this season.
Mason Mount (No. 19) Central midfielder, England
The Blues could not have achieved what they did last year without Mount, and they would need him as much this season. Mount offers Chelsea so many things that it gets hard to define it all in words. His role in Chelsea’s pressing and his general work rate provide qualities that will be essential to the Blues every week. Mount was tested against England’s best last season and he held his own. 12 goal contributions are no joke as a Premier League midfield debutant.
Kai Havertz (No. 29) Central midfielder, Germany
It’s not possible to overstate how excited Blues supporters are by this particular signing. Chelsea fans, however, should be more curious than expectant. Havertz has shown enough to imply that he will do just fine in the best league in the world. Regardless, fans should balance their expectations and treat Havertz like the young, growing player that he is, rather than the messiah who has come to led Chelsea back to its glory days. Lampard will be more curious than anyone else to see how Havertz holds his own in the Premier League and Brighton is a good place to start.
Timo Werner (No. 11) Striker, Germany
Werner has somehow already instilled confidence in Chelsea fans, despite not playing any competitive game for the west London side yet. His goal against Spain in the UEFA Nations League gives a glimpse into his superior goalscoring ability. Couple that with the creative talent all around him and it becomes clear why he is expected to score many goals in blue.
Christian Pulisic (No. 10) Left winger, United States
Pulisic was slowly integrated into the side last season and he should be grateful given the outcome. Pulisic showed that he should always be on the pitch whenever possible after his growth under Lampard. His close control dribbling, tendency to drive the ball towards the opposition goal and his superb finishing will make him a very unpleasant player to play against. Liverpool can tell you more about what Pulisic is all about, seeing as he went through four of their players en route to his assist for Tammy Abraham’s goal at Anfield. Pulisic starts despite not being 100 percent.