Frank Lampard never had a problem finding goals in the past. His 211 in 13 years as a Chelsea player is a record which looks safe for years.
As manager, however, goal threat will be his main concern ahead of a season which starts at Manchester United in less than three weeks. Eden Hazard, with 110 Chelsea goals to his name, has gone to Real Madrid, leaving Willian as the leading scorer in the dressing room with 52.
In the absence of Hazard, where will Chelsea’s goals come from? The question hung heavily in the air as they were beaten 1-0 by J-League champions Kawasaki Frontale on Friday.
Frank Lampard’s main concern will be where he finds a goal threat in his Chelsea side
Lampard acknowledged his team ought to have been more clinical. He blamed it on weariness caused by an intense training schedule, jet lag and the hot and humid conditions in Yokohama. But the young manager is aware of the need to sharpen up in front of goal and he has been working hard on the attacking combinations in training.
Banned from buying players and having declined options on Gonzalo Higuain and Alvaro Morata, the solution must come from within.
Unlike Manchester City, Liverpool, Tottenham and Arsenal, Chelsea do not boast a striker in their squad with a reputation for 30 goals a season, so are planning a more collective approach.
With no Eden Hazard, who joined Real Madrid this summer, Chelsea look a striker light
‘The numbers of goals Eden scored, I don’t know if I can take that from him, but we have several strikers with different qualities,’ said Olivier Giroud, who scored 13 last season, but only twice in the Premier League. The bulk of his game time came in Europe.
‘We have the quality and the quantity in the squad but you cannot replace, just like that, a player of the quality of Eden.
‘But it’s over. I wish him all the very best because he deserves to be happy. Now we need to forget and not put too much pressure on players who will play in his position.
‘I’m thinking about the young players. I will take the pressure, no problem, if it can release them. We know that we will have a lot of expectations, but even with the transfer ban we have a lot of quality and ability up front.’
Olivier Giroud admitted he is sceptical if he can score similar number of goals Hazard brought
Hazard racked up 22 goals in all competitions for Chelsea last season. In 37 Premier League appearances, he scored 16 and provided 15 assists.
Pedro’s eight was the next best league tally. Willian scored only three. Michy Batshuayi scored five in 11 games while on loan at Crystal Palace and Christian Pulisic scored four in 20 Bundesliga appearances, mostly as a sub, for Borussia Dortmund.
Callum Hudson-Odoi, who will miss the start of the campaign through injury, has not scored for Chelsea in the Premier League. Nor has Tammy Abraham, who last scored in the top flight while on loan at Swansea in April 2018, although he has been prolific while on loan in the Championship.
Kenedy, who has spent the last 18 months on loan at Newcastle but is impressing Lampard in pre-season, has one for Chelsea.
Michy Batshuayi was loaned out last season but might get his chance at Chelsea this term
This is a modest return for an attacking unit with top-four ambitions. If one man cannot emerge as a major Premier League goal force and set a new personal level, then the team must share the burden. There is scope for the younger players to improve with more opportunities.
Responsibility spreads and there is no one better set than Lampard to promote the importance of influencing the score from midfield.
Ross Barkley and Mason Mount, deployed in the No 10 role in a 4-2-3-1 system during pre-season games, take note. So too Ruben Loftus-Cheek, still some way from full fitness after surgery on an achilles injury.
‘We will learn quickly,’ said Giroud. ‘The gaffer repeats day after day about taking responsibility, to having personality, playing without fear and with confidence. He is insisting a lot on this. So we will learn quickly.
Tammy Abraham is another option for Lampard but he is not proven in the Premier League
‘We are working on the tactical side when we don’t have the ball and when we have the ball, playing 4-2-3-1, we have to know each other a bit better.
‘It is the first time I’ve played with Christian, with Mason, with Kenedy. It’s going to take time but we feel good and we believe in a great person in the gaffer. He’s the man for the situation.’
Though unfortunately for Chelsea, Lampard can’t get out there and score the goals himself any longer.
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