What do you make of Chelsea’s season so far?
Chelsea’s season so far has been steady, especially with the new manager coming in at the beginning of the season, and with them obviously losing the key player to the team. Eden Hazard has been unbelievable for Chelsea over the last seven years, and he was always going to be a massive miss. I thought initially going into the season if Chelsea could finish in the top four, which I thought might be a struggle, it’s a brilliant campaign for Frank Lampard in his first campaign in the Premier League.
So, I think it’s been steady so far. Theres been results that have not gone in their way, but teams have not been able to peg them back and they have still kept a little bit of a distance. But I think it’s time now that Chelsea have to kick on now if you realistically you want to get in the top four. I think the opportunities and games that they have dropped points where they could have increased that lead, they have to take them opportunities now, from now to the end of the season.
The main thing that’s happened this season is all the young players getting their opportunity in the team. You can see why Frank came back to the club and with the likes of Joe Edwards and Jody Morris assisting him, because they know the academy inside out. The [Chelsea youngsters’] performances have been no surprise to me because I’ve covered Chelsea’s FA Youth Cup runs and Europa League competitions that they’ve played in over the last six or seven years, and I’ve always been confident that Chelsea’s got probably the best academy in Europe when it comes to producing players. But they have never had that opportunity to push on into the first team.
This is the first season they have been given opportunities, and you can see the success rate of the players that have stepped up to Premier League level and how comfortably they are effecting it.
After having the January Transfer Ban lifted, there were still no signings. With Olivier Giroud’s out of favour, is there massive pressure on Tammy Abraham to deliver at such a young age?
Chelsea did all they could to get players in during the January Transfer Window but I think they needed to sign players. Everyone was talking about specific positions in who they thought they needed. For me, the two most important positions were a left back and a centre forward to help Tammy going forward, whether that would be someone who came in as the main striker to give Tammy time to learn his trade, or someone to come in and give Tammy competition.
I’m surprised that Chelsea didn’t make any signings, but January’s always a difficult transfer window because there are players out there that you can probably get in the summer that have an inflated price in January. Frank stayed true to himself, he said all along that he wasn’t necessarily going to bring in a player just for the sake of it, and he was going to see who he could get, and if he didnt get anybody he said he was going to be happy with the squad that he’s got.
So, he’s kept Giroud. Behind the scenes he said how professional Giroud’s been, even though he knows he must be disappointed with not getting the opportunities he would have expected this season. I think he’s still got the trust with Giroud.
How far off are Chelsea from launching an assault on the title, given the likes of Leicester now seem to be pushing them further down the pecking order?
Chelsea are quite a way from winning the Premier League. The better question though is, how far is everybody off Liverpool at the moment? There’s certainly a lot for teams to make up on, and I think there are no signs that Liverpool are not going to get stronger and stronger throughout the next decade maybe.
Chelsea have a lot of work to do. You can’t just keep bringing young players through, expect them to handle the Premier League and have a realistic chance of winning the Premier League with youngsters.
I’m comfortable that in the next two or three years they’ll maintain finishing in and around the top four and getting in the Champions League. But to kick on again, I think Chelsea will probably have to use a couple of transfer windows to bring in the right type of players that will work in tandem with developing the youngsters that are top class players at the club already.
What do you think of the way that Frank has handled the Kepa situation?
Without knowing what happens in the building, in and around the training ground, it’s difficult to comment on the way that Frank has handled the Kepa situation. I dont know what his attitude’s been like, and it could be something that’s been ongoing that nobody knows about.
But if you are looking at performances, then you can see why Frank has rested him and taken the pressure off of him. You’ve got to realise, there is a massive price tag for Kepa but he’s a very young man still learning his trade himself, but he’s learning his trade on the biggest platform.
Willy Caballero’s always been reliable whenever he has stepped in. I noticed a little bit more confidence in Chelsea’s defence with Caballero behind him with his experience, so on a performance level, I am not surprised by Frank decision.
Frank Sinclair And Danny Higinbotham Preview Chelsea v Man United
There is talk of Willian going to Barcelona next season. How much of a loss will that be for the club?
There has been talk of Willian leaving Chelsea for the last two or three seasons, he’s always been linked to someone else. When you have top players like Willian in your squad, they are going to get linked to other clubs.
But I think there is one place that Chelsea have a lot of riches in, as in selection wise, is in those wide areas, you know, with the likes of Pulisic and other young players coming through.
Obviously, you dont want to lose your experienced players that know the club inside out, and I think Willian has really taken on the responsibility of helping the youngsters this season. I’ve seen it in his demeanour and his body language with the way that he’s held himself this season. So, it’d be disappointing to lose him, especially after losing Hazard last season.
Reece James has looked fantastic this season. Can he challenge Trent Alexander-Arnold for a starting position for England?
If I was Reece James, I might be clever and try and to start playing centre half or something because Trent Alexander is going to be a hard man to lodge out of that position the way that he’s playing at the moment.
But, it’s internationals and you need world class players in every position if you want to really seriously challenge at that level. So, to have someone like Reece James, who will fight for that second slot as the natural right back, that’s a good thing. You’ve obviously also got Wan Bissaka at Man United, but I dont think he’s particularly been in great form this season.
The one thing about Reece James that will get him into England squads regularly is his adaptability, he can play centre half, he can play right back, he can play central midfield. He came back off a great loan period at Wigan, where for the second half of that loan spell, he played centre mid and was unbelievable in there as well.
When I spoke to Jody Morris after a FA Youth Cup victory for Chelsea a couple of seasons ago, he touched on how good Reece James was. He was saying Callum Hudson-Odoi gets a lot of the plaudits, but Reece James is just unbelievable. So now he’s coming to fruition and I can see him kicking on and being in Chelsea’s team for the next 10 years or so and being a real mainstay.
Has Frank Lampard given Solskjaer a lesson in how it is to go back to your former club and lead from the front?
Frank has done a great job at Chelsea but the comparison to Ole’s situation is a little unfair when you look at Chelsea’s squad compared to Man United squad this season/ Frank has done a terrific job. When he took over, there was no policy that he had to play the youngsters. He’s played the youngsters because they have shown that they have been good enough in and around training. They have impressed him enough and obviously he’s had the insight of Jody Morris as to whether he thinks they are ready.
So, it’s a little bit unfair to judge them up against each other because I dont think Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had those riches. Yes, they have got a couple of young players coming through now that are doing really well, but you look at the choices that Frank’s got out of his youngsters compared to Ole’s, it is very difficult to compare them.
Chelsea face Man United this weekend. Who do you see winning and why?
Chelsea will win the game against Manchester United this weekend. I actually take a lot of confidence out of the 4-nil defeat in the last fixture between both the sides. I certainly thought that Chelsea didnt deserve to be on the back of a 4-nil loss, and for me they could have been 2 or 3-nil up themselves at halftime. So, I take confidence from that game that if Chelsea play as well as they did and take their chances this time around, I think Chelsea will win the game.
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