— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) December 1, 2019
Back in August, we asked: Who will be the top London side in the Premier League this season? At the time, it seemed inconceivable that any team other than Tottenham would come out on top. After all, they had recently reached the Champions League final and had one of the game’s most coveted managers at the helm. However, it is the team from South West London that has the early advantage in the race to be the capital’s best.
Despite strengthening in the summer, the North London side failed to live up to expectations, and Mauricio Pochettino was subsequently relieved of his duties to be replaced by Jose Mourinho. The incoming Portuguese boss now faces the challenge of hauling the club back up the table and closing the gap to the top four.
It is hard to pinpoint what exactly went wrong at Spurs, but the team began the campaign looking jaded and lacking in confidence. Many of the players have been together for several years and it could be that things had gone a little stale in the dressing room. In the end, the board decided the club needed a shakeup.
Blues riding high
In contrast, Chelsea have defied all expectations. In the midst of a transfer ban, they replaced Europa League-winning manager Maurizio Sarri with former club midfielder Frank Lampard who was unproven at the top level, having spent just a year managing Championship side Derby County. After a shaky start, the Blues soon hit their stride and are now well placed for a top-four finish having opened up a six-point cushion to the team in fifth place.
Lampard’s appointment was met with scepticism, and it is still early days. But so far he has justified the faith shown in him by his bosses. If he can finish in the top four and ahead of the other London clubs, as many football tips websites are predicting, his first season will be considered a success.
Giving youth a chance
Unable to sign any new players for two transfer windows, Lampard was given the task of integrating some of the club’s youngsters into the first-team setup. To his credit, he has managed to get the best out of players such as Callum Hudson-Odoi, Tammy Abraham, Fikayo Tomori and Mason Mount. As a result, Lampard’s appointment could prove inspirational for other young English players as well as the next generation of English coaches hoping to break into the top level.
What a way to mark my Birthday with another England call up!!! Always give thanks to God❤️🙏🏾🦁🎉 pic.twitter.com/yR10r5Mppv
— Callum Hudson-Odoi (@Calteck10) November 7, 2019
As someone who knows the club inside out, Lampard was able to get straight down to work. This was acknowledged by Pep Guardiola ahead of Chelsea’s recent trip to the Etihad Stadium to face Manchester City. Guardiola was in a similar position when he was given the top job at Barcelona having only coached at third division level with the B team.
With Arsenal also floundering under three-time Europa League-winning coach Unai Emery, Chelsea are now the clear favourites to finish as the top club in the London this season.