Frank Lampard’s Chelsea squad this season looks very different after signing a bunch of new players in the summer with one noticeable absentee. The Blues made it back-to-back wins for the first time this season after the weekend with a comfortable 3-0 win over Burnley.
It was the first time this season that Lampard was able to start all six of his summer signings, although Timo Werner’s inclusion was due to Christian Pulisic’s injury during the warm-up.
Lampard had Werner and Hakim Ziyech flanking Tammy Abraham in the forward three positions while Kai Havertz was the more advanced midfielder.
N’Golo Kante and Mason Mount made up the other two in midfield with Jorginho now established as the fourth-choice option.
But it’s been a surprising fall from grace for Mateo Kovacic, who was named Chelsea’s player of the year last season.
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He wasn’t even named in the matchday squad to face Burnley and has struggled so far all season for regular game time.
The 26-year-old has started just two Premier League games, with his only other appearance being a seven-minute cameo off the bench against Crystal Palace.
Kovacic may not offer the same attacking threat as Mount or Havertz, but he proved last year to be crucial as they finished inside the top four.
Lampard’s change in formation this campaign is largely due to the fact he’s trying to fit in the summer signings.
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And that worked wonders against Burnley, although Sean Dyche’s side rarely threatened Chelsea.
It’s against teams battling further up the table where Chelsea have struggled this season though having lost 2-0 to Liverpool and drawn 0-0 with Manchester United.
After spending close to £250m on new signings, Lampard will be under pressure to deliver results this season.
And in order to do so, Chelsea will need to start picking up points against the so-called bigger teams.
He’s already hinted that he’ll have to change his team around regularly to cope with the fixture pile-up and Kovacic will likely be called upon, but the outlook isn’t great considering he’s dropped down to the fifth option in midfield.
Kovacic proved his worth last season having made 47 appearances and showcasing his link-up play between defence and attack.
If Chelsea are to challenge at the top of the table this season, Kovacic could well prove crucial once again.
But for now, the Croatia international must find a way to break back into Lampard’s starting line-up and prove himself once again.
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