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Chelsea ’s 2020-21 campaign started with a victory in a game they were expected to win, and a defeat in a match they hoped not to lose.
An unconvincing triumph over Brighton in which the scoreline flattered the Blues preceded last weekend’s 2-0 defeat to the champions.
Liverpool pressed and probed for an opener, but the difference came when Andreas Christensen bundled over Sadio Mane who was through on goal, and the Dane subsequently saw red.
From there, Liverpool’s probing intensified and to Frank Lampard ’s credit, the Reds had to rely on a finely-worked, intricate move to open the scoring at Stamford Bridge.
Ahead of this weekend’s clash at the Hawthorns against West Brom there are a number of issues and concerns Lampard will look to rectify.
Here, Daily Star Sport has taken a close look at five things Lampard needs to heavily think about ahead of the trip to the Midlands.
Mendy in, Kepa out
Chelsea’s goalkeeping frailties were apparent yet again against Liverpool, as Kepa Arrizabalaga handed the champions a second goal and all three points with a limp clearance which fell to Mane inside the penalty area.
The Senegalese forward did the rest and compounded the Spaniard’s misery in what has been a torrid 12 months for the former Athletic Bilbao keeper.
Lampard must finalise the deal to bring Edouard Mendy in from Rennes and ensure he is ready to hit the ground running in between the posts for Chelsea.
Kepa’s confidence appears to be shot, and with Mendy expected to complete his move imminently, the Senegal shot-stopper will be looking to impress on his first outing.
Lampard has a choice to make when it comes to his central defensive pairing this season, which could have been made all the easier with Christensen’s red card.
The Danish international will now be suspended, opening the door for the likes of Fikayo Tomori to deputise, or for Thiago Silva to make his Blues bow, should he pass a fitness test.
Silva is a player of considerable pedigree and a game against West Brom – who have been woeful defensively since their return to the top flight – might be a good game to wean him into where he can gel with whoever plays alongside him. In terms of the language barrier, he may be paired best with French-speaking Kurt Zouma at first.
Antonio Rudiger was left out against Liverpool, and the Germany international's future now looks suddenly very much up in the air, despite his help in luring Timo Werner and Kai Havertz to Stamford Bridge.
Play Havertz centrally
German international Havertz’s first two outings in the blue of Chelsea have been a far-cry from the Bayer Leverkusen form which saw the London club shell out an initial fee of £72m for his services.
Much of this could be down to outside factors, namely being played deeper and out of position against Brighton, and being hooked against Liverpool to make way for an additional defender after Christensen’s sending off.
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Lampard should draw on Havertz’s experience as a false nine, allowing him a freer forward role in the front three which allows him to drift into unoccupied space, rather than shoe-horning him into a role where he is limited to the right-hand side.
Many of Havertz’s finishes last season came in positions where a striker would typically be found – if he is intent on getting the best out of the youngster, it must be here.
Devise tactical plan to accommodate Chilwell and Ziyech
Chelsea are yet to welcome two of their most prized summer additions to the first-team line-up this season, with Hakim Ziyech and Ben Chilwell both sidelined through injury.
The pair are attack-minded players, despite Chilwell being a defender first and foremost, but concerns were raised against Liverpool when the team stepped up and eased their low block approach.
The first instance of this occurring opened the door for a straight ball from Jordan Henderson which caught out Christensen, ultimately ending in him fouling Mane and the referee brandishing the red card.
Without the pressure on the ball in midfield, or covering defenders, Chelsea looked rather open as they attempted to press forward.
With Chilwell and Ziyech both to be added to this side, it begs the question; can they fully exploit their attacking talent without leaving themselves open at the back?
Decide on Loftus-Cheek’s future
Due to the summer spending that has taken place at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea’s midfield is now fairly well stocked. It leaves little room for peripheral figures such as Ruben Loftus-Cheek who may struggle to oust Mateo Kovacic, Jorginho or N’Golo Kante.
With just two weeks to go until the transfer window shuts, Lampard could be forced to make the decision on Loftus-Cheek’s future, either selling the England international or loaning him to another Premier League club.
He started the first game of the season against Brighton but disappointed before being substituted and then was omitted from the squad to face Liverpool, suggesting a move away could be the best option for all parties.
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