Sport Where it's all going wrong for Frank Lampard at big-spending Chelsea
Is it time for Chelsea to cash in on N'Golo Kante this summer?
Indefatigable, indomitable, invulnerable, the Frenchman has so often performed the duties of two men in the Chelsea midfield. But would this be the right moment for the Blues to move him on?Indefatigable, indomitable, invulnerable, the Frenchman has so often performed the duties of two men in the Chelsea midfield.
Heading into the first week of the season, and having smashed through the £240million mark in the transfer window, all eyes were on Chelsea to see what they could do.
A few weeks on, and having stuttered to four points from their opening three matches, questions are already being asked of Frank Lampard and his squad.
Things went from bad to worse on Tuesday night when they were knocked out of the Carabao Cup on penalties by rivals Tottenham and old boss Jose Mourinho.
Frank Lampard confirms Edouard Mendy is having Chelsea medical
The 28-year-old goalkeeper is set to sign a five-year contract at Stamford Bridge and will compete with under-fire keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga for the No 1 jersey at Chelsea.The 28-year-old goalkeeper is set to sign a five-year contract at Stamford Bridge and will compete with under-fire keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga for the No 1 jersey.
So just where is it going wrong for Super Frank and his big-spending Blues? Here, Sportsmail takes a look at all the problems Lampard is encountering...
A woefully poor defence
You only need to rewind a few days to Chelsea's game away at West Brom to realise just how poor they have been defensively so far this season. To concede three first-half goals against a team tipped by most to finish bottom is worrying to say the least.
Lampard launches defence of £89m Havertz
Havertz played wide on the right on his debut against Brighton and was then used centrally in the 2-0 defeat against Liverpool before being hauled off at half-time.Havertz played wide on the right on his debut against Brighton and was then used centrally in the 2-0 defeat against Liverpool before being hauled off at half-time as Lampard brought on a defender following Andreas Christensen's red card.
Against Tottenham, the centre-back partnership was once again switched up, with Kurt Zouma and Fikayo Tomori this time taking the reins. There was also a new goalkeeper between the sticks in Edouard Mendy, brought in to replace Kepa.
But ringing the changes didn't fix the problems. Erik Lamela scored the goal to level things up for Spurs late on in the game, and in an embarrassing passage of play Chelsea's players were left holding their arms in the air, begging for the offside flag to be raised against the goalscorer.
In reality, he was a good few yards onside and the goal will be remembered for yet more poor defensive play from Chelsea. It was their downfall against Spurs and will continue to be the most worrying issue for Lampard going forward.
Lampard can't pick a settled team
To be successful in the Premier League and beyond, history has shown that you have to have a settled core. The same players in the same system, a squad that knows each other inside out.
Chelsea carousel keeps spinning as list of outcasts grows
The revolving door at Stamford Bridge hasn't stopped spinning this summer but Frank Lampard's trimming of his Chelsea squad is unlikely to be over as the October 5 deadline approaches.Incoming players Timo Werner, Kai Havertz, Ben Chilwell, Hakim Ziyech, Thiago Silva and now Edouard Mendy have dominated the headlines, part of a £220million spending spree.
While not many expected Lampard's new-look squad to challenge for the title this season, it has become abundantly clear very quickly that this will take time. Lampard hasn't helped himself with his squad selection though, and it appears he does not know what his strongest line-up is.
In 41 Premier League matches in charge of Chelsea, Lampard has picked 20 different defensive line-ups. In midfield this season, there have already been three different duos.
Timo Werner began life at Chelsea as a No 9 but has since been drifted out to the wing, and there is still plenty of confusion over where Kai Havertz fits in. Lampard needs to work it out, and fast, or risk slipping down the table.
Crying out for a holding midfielder
On the subject of those midfield duos, it is clear that Chelsea have a missing piece of the puzzle when it comes to that holding position in front of the back line. Against Tottenham, Lampard opted for Mateo Kovacic and Jorginho, but it once again left plenty to be desired.
Lampard backs Thiago Silva to overcome disastrous Premier League debut
Silva took his eye off the ball to allow it slip under his foot and gift Callum Robinson his second on the night as newly promoted West Brom raced into a three goal half-time lead. © Provided by Daily Mail Frank Lampard backed Thiago Silva after the defender struggled on his Premier League debut © Provided by Daily Mail Silva made a big mistake to allow Callum Robinson (R) to put West Brom 2-0 in front The former Milan and PSG star had been substituted by the time Tammy Abraham scored Chelsea's injury-time winner.But manager Lampard did not blame his star recruit, who turned 36 last week.
It appears Lampard doesn't want to play Ngolo Kante in that position as he's too mobile to sit deep and sweep up, and while Kovacic impressed so much last season that he was awarded Player of the Year it is clear that him and Jorginho just don't work as a two.
Jorginho has proven himself too easy to play around given the lack of speed his game possesses, and there has been talk of him leaving for Arsenal before the window closes. Declan Rice is a long-term target for Chelsea and he is just the player Lampard needs to complete that puzzle.
New signings taking time to settle
Of course, it would be impossible to expect all of Chelsea's new signings to slip straight in seamlessly without any indication of a stutter. Many of these big names came with hefty price tags, though, and with that brings a certain sense of expectation.
Havertz was £89m and he's still only 21, Timo Werner £53m, Chilwell £50m... the list goes on. These are not small signings, and each of them will be feeling the pressure to slip straight in - but it's not as easy as that. Hakim Ziyech cost £36m but is yet to kick a ball in anger in the Premier League due to injury.
Frank Lampard 'berated Marcos Alonso in front of squad' after WBA draw
Alonso is said to have attempted to watch the second half of the match on the team coach rather than with his team-mates, infuriating his manager and earning himself a savaging at full-time.Alonso is said to have attempted to watch the second half of the match on the team coach rather than with the Chelsea substitutes inside The Hawthorns, infuriating his manager after he tried to leave the stadium without permission.
Edouard Mendy is a £21m arrival that is expected to slot straight into Kepa's spot in goal and be a marked improvement on the man who cost £72m a few seasons ago to become the most expensive goalkeeper in history.
It's just not realistic to assume that they will all be brilliant straight away. Chelsea fans will hope that, six months down the line, they'll all be week-in, week-out starters, but right now they're not and they will need time to adapt to their new surroundings.
Some fringe players aren't up to scratch
With all the new arrivals in town, Chelsea's hierarchy will be more than keen to offload some of the club's fringe players.
Defeat by Tottenham in the Carabao Cup on Tuesday night gave a few of them a chance for a run-out but it has once again shown that plenty of them aren't up to scratch.
The likes of Jorginho and Marcos Alonso look the most likely to leave, but there is also Antonio Rudiger, Emerson Palmieri, Tiemoue Bakayoko and Ruben Loftus-Cheek waiting in the wings to find out what's next for them. Midfielder Ross Barkley has been sent to Aston Villa on loan for the season.
Rudiger, who Sportsmail revealed could be on his way to Tottenham, hasn't even been included in the squad for the majority of Chelsea's games so far this season, and it has become abundantly clear that there are a number of players that Lampard just doesn't think he can rely on when it comes to the crunch.
Lampard has used 20 defensive lineups in 41 league games at Chelsea
Frank Lampard could have been forgiven for fearing the worst when Chelsea collapsed to a stunning three-goal deficit against West Brom on Saturday evening. Though they were able to claw their way to a share of the spoils thanks to a second-half fightback at the Hawthorns, there was little left to cheer from a dismal defensive display.New boy Thiago Silva, all-conquering in eight years at Paris Saint-Germain, was at the centre of the mess while Marcos Alonso was hauled off at half-time after perhaps his worst 45 minutes in a Chelsea shirt.
Falling out with players
It wasn't so long ago that Lampard was out on the pitch himself, but he is now on the touchline and trying to assert his authority over players not too many years his junior.
He has clashed with a number of players during his time as a manager, the most recent being Marcos Alonso at the weekend. Lampard gave him a furious dressing down at West Brom after he returned to the team bus to watch the second half of the match rather than to the stands with his team-mates.
There are also problems with Rudiger and Lampard ousted David Luiz early into his reign at Stamford Bridge too. There have been plenty of examples of friction within the squad and the boss must iron things out in the coming weeks and months.
It must be said that Lampard has been hamstrung by a series of injuries within his Chelsea squad throughout the start of the campaign.
As it stands, Billy Gilmour, Ziyech and Christian Pulisic are three regular first-team stars yet to taste the action this season. The latter two are closing in on a return but Gilmour is still a few weeks away.
Add to that Werner's cramp on Tuesday night, and there have been a number of unfortunate blows that have made Lampard's start to the campaign significantly more difficult than he would have liked.
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I won't row with Roy! Lampard hails Palace boss and denies Mourinho spat was all about advice .
Chelsea boss Frank Lampard is certain he and Roy Hodgson will not exchange unpleasant touchline comments in Saturday's Premier League game.Frank Lampard has vowed there will no repeat of his touchline row with Jose Mourinho when he comes up against his former England boss Roy Hodgson.