The 2018/19 season was a tough year for Chelsea that was best written off as “character building”. It started off well, with Chelsea winning their first five games and not losing a match until they played Tottenham Hotspur away on 24th November. This 3-1 defeat was the first of 8 losses in the Premier League, but this was still fewer than all but two teams in the league. Finishing third overall in the Premier League, and therefore securing a place in the Champions League, was a good consolation.
Reaching the EFL Cup final was another high of the season, with many thinking that Chelsea could go all the way, only to be bitterly disappointed when they were beaten 3-4 in a penalty shootout against Manchester City. A second UEFA Europa League win, beating London rivals Arsenal, was one of the highlights of the year—one that Chelsea hoped to build on for 2019/20.
Photo by @cfcunofficial (Chelsea Debs) London, CC BY-SA 2.0
One of the biggest changes over the summer break was that former Chelsea player, Frank Lampard, was appointed as the team’s manager. Lampard spent 13 years of his career playing for Chelsea between 2001 and 2014, and had been managing Derby County since 2018. This didn’t get off to a great start, though; the team’s first competitive game ended in a 4-0 loss to Manchester United, the biggest first-game defeat for a Chelsea Manager since 1978.
Lampard’s second game also ended in a loss in the UEFA Super Cup, drawing 2-2 against Liverpool and then losing 5-4 in a penalty shootout. It wasn’t until 24th August, when Chelsea played Norwich City away, that Lampard led the team to their first victory together. It was then a whole month before they secured their first home win, this time in an EFL Cup game against Grimsby Town, a League Two side.
Finding Their Feet
Despite a less-than-perfect start to the season, Chelsea have begun to show progress. Their attacking has improved significantly and, despite defeat, they looked impressive against Liverpool, who under Jurgen Klopp, are one of the most formidable attacking teams in the Premier League right now.
Chelsea are where (or thereabouts) they were likely to be at this point in the season. There is still a lot that can change; but looking at their performance so far, fans looking to place wagers on Chelsea, using bookmakers like Oddschecker, will likely want to look at factors like the abnormally-high number of goals they have conceded so far this season.
Performance in September has been an improvement on earlier in the season. The latest match against Liverpool saw Chelsea lose again, but the 2-1 defeat was a show of force by the blues. Their attacking form is on the up, and the changes Frank Lampard has been making are beginning to bring a return.
The initial poor performance in the Champions League can still be turned around, but the odds are stacked against them, and with Ajax and Valencia in their group, this won’t be a simple task.
A new manager starting with poor performances is not uncommon and does not always point to inherent problems that will remain for their tenure. Instead, it is often a sign that the new manager is making changes to the structure and style of the team that will take a few games to bed in. This certainly seems to be the case with Frank Lampard at Chelsea. The catastrophic opening day loss to Manchester United is far behind them now, and the team is on the up.
Whilst no one expects Chelsea to be able to take on the dominance of Liverpool and Manchester City this year, a 2019/20 season packed with solid performances will be a way for Lampard to lay down some solid foundations for a title-challenging campaign in a few years. Sitting 5th at this stage of the season, with a new manager that has a long history at the club and improving performance, is a position many teams would love to find themselves in.
Header Photo by Vespa125125CFC, CC BY-SA 3.0