Chelsea’s huge squad
Chelsea were most certainly one of the most active squads on the transfer front this summer.
The Blues, in total, brought in seven first-team players over the course of the delayed summer window.
And though Chelsea were also able to ship out several players recently such as Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Ross Barkley and Malang Sarr, the Londoners still have a very bloated squad.
For example, despite loaning Sarr to FC Porto, Chelsea still have five senior centre-backs on their books, plus Cesar Azpilicueta who usually starts in the right centre-back spot if Frank Lampard opts to deploy a back-five.
A failed deadline-day move to Juventus on the part of Emerson also means the Blues currently have three out-and-out left-backs at Stamford Bridge, with Azpilicueta also able to fill in there as well.
Moving further forward, Lampard has all of Timo Werner, Tammy Abraham and Olivier Giroud to chose from at centre-forward.
And there is a similar story in midfield with Christian Pulisic, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Hakim Ziyech, Kai Havertz, Mason Mount and in some cases, Timo Werner, to fight it out for three spots.
Obviously, having some decent squad depth can be a good thing, especially when you are a top side trying to compete in several competitions at once.
But with so many options to chose from, it can also leave a manger with something of a selection headache and not being able to find your best eleven can, in some cases, see teams underperform.
So, with so many new faces arriving in the door recently, Lampard will no doubt be keen to nail down his best eleven as soon as possible. But what exactly is Chelsea’s current best eleven?
A French-themed backline
Starting between the sticks, though Edouard Mendy has had very little time to prove himself in England, it is hard to argue that he shouldn’t currently be the Blues’ no.1.
Kepa is a solid player and was in fine form for Spain on Wednesday evening, keeping a clean sheet vs Portugal.
But the Spaniard currently just looks so devoid of any confidence when donning a Chelsea shirt and with the battle for a Champions League place looking set to be a fierce one this year, Lampard can’t really afford to persist with Kepa for the time being.
Like the goalkeeper spot, left-back at Chelsea largely picks itself at this point.
Both Marcos Alonso and Emerson have been pretty underwhelming for some time, with the former’s defensive capability particularly concerning.
And after Ben Chilwell’s superb display for Chelsea vs Crystal Palace last weekend, it does look as though the England international will be the Londoner’s first-choice left-back for the foreseeable future.
The centre-back spot is slightly tougher to call currently. Given his experience and quality, you would expect Thiago Silva to be a regular feature at the back this term.
And though a case could certainly be made for Fikayo Tomori partnering the Brazilian, Silva and Kurt Zouma did form a solid pairing over the weekend. Also, with Mendy and Silva new to England, Chelsea’s backline were speaking French vs the Eagles, meaning a Zouma-Silva partnership would seemingly be the best option for now.
The final spot in Chelsea’s backline should then probably be, for the most part, filled by Reece James.
Granted, Azpilicueta has a lot more experience and is probably better defensively than James, but the young Englishman is continuously improving and should now be giving a regular chance by Lampard.
As we move up to midfield, the selection options become much trickier and will likely be the toughest area for Lampard to pick from this season.
Firstly, with Chelsea favouring a 4-2-3-1 of late, N’Golo Kante should be named as one of the two holding midfielders as he is still by far and away one of the best in the Premier League.
Who partners the Frenchman, though, is somewhat up for debate.
Jorginho would do so vs Crystal Palace as Chelsea garnered a comfortable 4-0 victory.
But given the Italian isn’t to defensively sound, Chelsea may end up struggling against better opposition. And with Mateo Kovacic named as Chelsea’s Player of the Season last term, a Kante-Kovacic pairing could be the way forward.
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) October 7, 2020
Havertz as a 10
Said paring should then allow Chelsea’s more attack-minded players a lot more freedom going forward, as they shouldn’t have to worry too much about defending with Kante and Kovacic sweeping up the danger.
And across the attacking midfield spots should be Christian Pulisic, Kavi Havertz and potentially Hakim Ziyech.
Obviously, Chelsea fans will probably feel somewhat aggrieved that Mason Mount has been left out as he has been superb over the last year and a bit.
However, when fit, Lampard can’t really afford to leave out Christian Pulisic – who was in fine form at the back end of 2019/20.
And it is a similar story with Havertz. Chelsea are not going to leave their £71m signing on the bench and we have already seen he operates best as a no.10.
That would leave just the right-wing spot, which will probably be occupied by Ziyech once he is fit.
Hudson-Odoi has done a solid job in that role and will still likely get game time there. But given Ziyech is natural in that spot and has just signed, he will probably dominate the position.
And finally, when Pulisic is fit he will presumably operate from the left, meaning Werner should be handed the no.9 role.
Is this Chelsea’s best starting XI?
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|Targett, Matt||Aston Villa FC||0||2|
|Joelinton||Newcastle United FC||0||2|
|Zaha, Wilfried||Crystal Palace FC||0||1|
|Bamford, Patrick||Leeds United||0||1|
|Kane, Harry||Tottenham Hotspur FC||6|
|Grealish, Jack||Aston Villa FC||3|
|McGinn, John||Aston Villa FC||3|
|Rodriguez, James||Everton FC||2|
|Townsend, Andros||Crystal Palace FC||2|
|Castagne, Timothy||Leicester City FC||2|
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|Bellerin, Hector||Arsenal FC||2|
|Podence, Daniel||Wolverhampton Wanderers FC||2|
|Son, Heung Min||Tottenham Hotspur FC||1|
|Wilson, Callum||Newcastle United FC||1|
|Maupay, Neal||Brighton & Hove Albion FC||1|
|Watkins, Ollie||Aston Villa FC||1|
|Costa, Helder||Leeds United||1|
|Fernandes, Bruno||Manchester United FC||1|