Premier League preview: Lampard-led Chelsea looks to build on Europa League success amid low expectations

Expectations of Chelsea are low this season, but Frank Lampard's appointment has ushered fresh optimism at Stamford Bridge.

Frank Lampard has said he's looking forward to the new chapter as Chelsea manager.   -  Getty Images

It’s been a mixed build up to the new Premier League campaign for Chelsea. Its entry into the Champions League group stages via Europa League success was met with the exit of manager Maurizio Sarri and mercurial winger Eden Hazard. A transfer window ban for a year meant the club could not bring in any replacements to improve its team to challenge champion Manchester City and European Cup winner Liverpool this season.

The return of club legend Frank Lampard as the new manager has brought in some semblance of optimism for the supporters. Lampard, on the back of leading Derby County into the Championship playoffs last season, has vowed to work with the youth and bring in success.

"No they haven’t (said top four is a must) and they don’t need to. It is clear that we are a club that can be in the top four. I know the club and the standards. It is where we need to be,” said Lampard, during his unveiling.

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But with one of the most underwhelming squads at disposal of the Roman Abramovich era, the upcoming season could be one of settling in and transition for the Englishman. 

 

With the track record of having won five of the last six FA Youth Cups, this could be the season the club’s supporters could see their fabled youth products make an impact in the first team. Talented academy players Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount, Reece James and Fikayo Tomori are likely to be in the fray alongside Callum Hudson-Odoi, who is currently recovering from a long-term injury.

Under Lampard, Ross Barkley could fulfill his early promise shown during his time at Everton. He has had an impressive pre-season and will be tasked with the creative duties from midfield. New signing Christian Pulisic was also among the goals in pre-season and has talked up replicating the form of the outgoing Hazard from the left flank.

Without much surprise, the biggest excitement is surrounding the emergence of Mount, who was a vital cog for Lampard at Derby last season. Earlier this week, Lampard said of the 20-year-old, “He has done a lot. I'm really happy with how he's training, how he's playing and his status in the group coming back here. The players recognise quality instantly but they also recognise work rate and character—and Mason has all of those.”

Chelsea has had positive results in the lead up the new campaign but question marks will be raised over the striking options in Michy Batshuayi, Olivier Giroud and Abraham. Basthuayi has not been a first choice striker in his first three seasons at the club, while Giroud is viewed as a secondary striker. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Abraham, who started the last two games in pre-season and was handed the No. 9 shirt, leading the line in the opening game of the season at Old Trafford against Manchester United.

Another area of concern will be the Blues’ defence after conceding eight goals in the last three pre-season matches. Chelsea conceded a high percentage of goals from set pieces last year and has continued to look vulnerable from such situations so far under Lampard.

Premier League Fixtures

August 11, Manchester United vs Chelsea (16:30)

August 17, Chelsea vs Leicester City (15:00)

August 24, Norwich City vs Chelsea (15:00

August 31, Chelsea vs Sheffield United (15:00)

September 14, Wolves vs Chelsea (15:00)

September 21, Chelsea vs Liverpool (15:00)

September 28, Chelsea vs Brighton (15:00)

October 5, Southampton vs Chelsea (15:00)

October 19, Chelsea vs Newcastle United (15:00)

October 26, Burnley vs Chelsea (15:00)

November 2, Watford vs Chelsea (15:00)

November 9, Chelsea vs Crystal Palace (15:00)

November 23, Manchester City vs Chelsea (15:00)

November 30, Chelsea vs West Ham United (15:00)

December 4, Chelsea vs Aston Villa (19:45)

December 7, Everton vs Chelsea (15:00)

December 14, Chelsea vs Bournemouth (15:00)

December 21, Tottenham vs Chelsea (15:00)

December 26, Chelsea vs Southampton (15:00)

December 28, Arsenal vs Chelsea (15:00)

January 1, Brighton and Hove Albion vs Chelsea (15:00)

January 11, Chelsea vs Burnley (15:00)

January 18, Newcastle United vs Chelsea (15:00)

January 22, Chelsea vs Arsenal (19:45)

February 1, Leicester City vs Chelsea (15:00)

February 8, Chelsea vs Manchester United (15:00)

February 22, Chelsea vs Tottenham (15:00)

February 29, Bournemouth vs Chelsea (15:00)

March 7, Chelsea vs Everton (15:00)

March 14, Aston Villa vs Chelsea (15:00)

March 21, Chelsea vs Manchester City (15:00)

April 4, West Ham vs Chelsea (15:00)

April 11, Chelsea vs Watford (15:00)

April 18, Crystal Palace vs Chelsea (15:00)

April 25, Sheffield United vs Chelsea (15:00)

May 2, Chelsea vs Norwich City (15:00)

May 9, Liverpool vs Chelsea (15:00)

May 17, Chelsea vs Wolves (15:00)