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Chelsea season preview - predictions, fixtures, summer signings, starting XI

Sports Mole takes an in-depth look at Chelsea ahead of the start of the 2020-21 Premier League season.

The pressure is on big-spending Chelsea going into the new Premier League campaign as the Blues look to reap the rewards from a summer splurge which no-one else has been willing or able to match.

Bridging the gap to the top two will be the priority at Stamford Bridge, although that looks to be a difficult ask even with such an impressive transfer window behind them.

Here, Sports Mole takes an in-depth look at Frank Lampard's side ahead of the 2020-21 campaign.



How did they fare last season?

Chelsea striker Olivier Giroud celebrates scoring against Wolverhampton Wanderers in the Premier League on July 26, 2020© Reuters

All in all, better than many expected.

A relative novice in the managerial seat and with a transfer ban preventing him from improving his options, Frank Lampard was faced with a difficult task as he took on the challenge of leading the club he had represented with such distinction during his illustrious playing career.

It was widely accepted that Champions League qualification would be a good outcome, and sure enough that is what Chelsea achieved - ultimately finishing fourth, level on points with third-placed Manchester United and four points above Leicester City.

The Blues could barely have got off to a worse start than losing 4-0 to Manchester United at Old Trafford on the opening day, but their only other defeat in their next 11 outings came against title-bound Liverpool and a perfect October saw Lampard upset Jurgen Klopp's monopoly of the Manager of the Month award.

It was by no means straightforward for the rest of the campaign, though; five defeats in seven games from November 23 to Boxing Day included home losses to West Ham United, Bournemouth and Southampton, but they then lost only five more games across the rest of the league season to cling on to fourth place.

Lampard also had the chance to clinch silverware in his first season but saw his side lose the FA Cup final to London rivals Arsenal and the UEFA Super Cup final to Liverpool, while they were knocked out of the EFL Cup by Manchester United and outclassed by eventual winners Bayern Munich in the Champions League last 16.

An impressive victory over Manchester City, which handed Liverpool the title, was arguably the high point aside from securing a top-four spot, while their tally of five home league defeats - three of which came in the space of less than a month - was perhaps the low point of their campaign alongside that opening-day defeat to United.



Biggest improvement needed

Greater consistency.

After a six-match winning streak which ended on November 9, Chelsea did not record back-to-back victories again until June and only had three separate runs of two or more wins on the bounce throughout the season.

Lampard will also be demanding fewer defeats after losing 12 times in 2019-20 - five at home and seven away - and fewer goals conceded, having recorded the worst defensive record in the top half.



Manager: Frank Lampard

Chelsea manager Frank Lampard pictured on July 7, 2020© Reuters

Club legend and all-time record goalscorer, Frank Lampard took something of a risk when he accepted the Chelsea job last year at a time when they had a transfer ban and were losing their best player in Eden Hazard.

Nonetheless, after just one year in the dugout with Derby County he felt that he was ready to take on the role and largely dealt with the challenges he faced admirably, including bouncing back from a 4-0 defeat in his very first game.

During only his second season in management Lampard got the better of Pep Guardiola, Jose Mourinho (twice), Jurgen Klopp, Mikel Arteta and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in the various competitions.



Key player: Kai Havertz

New Chelsea signing Kai Havertz poses with the team's kit on September 4, 2020© Chelsea FC

Chelsea have done some excellent business this summer and a number of their new arrivals could be contenders for their key player, from Thiago Silva's experience at the back to Timo Werner's goals up front.

The most expensive of the lot is the deal Chelsea fans will be most excited about, though, with Kai Havertz arriving at Stamford Bridge with a big reputation and tipped to be the future of German football.

The 21-year-old scored 18 goals and created nine more for Bayer Leverkusen last season, and a similar return this term could take Chelsea closer to the top two.



Summer transfer business

Timo Werner scores for Chelsea in August 2020© Reuters

In
Hakim Ziyech (£36m, Ajax)
Timo Werner (£47.7m, RB Leipzig)
Ben Chilwell (£45.2m, Leicester City)
Malang Sarr (free, Nice)
Thiago Silva (free, Paris Saint-Germain)
Kai Havertz (£72m, Bayer Leverkusen)
Xavier Mbuyamba (free, Barcelona)
Edouard Mendy (£21.6m, Rennes)

Out
Alvaro Morata (£50.4m, Atletico Madrid)
Mario Pasalic (£13.5m, Atalanta BC)
Josh Grant (free, Bristol Rovers)
Nathan (£2.7m, Atletico-MG)
Danilo Pantic (loan, Cukaricki)
Willian (free, Arsenal)
Pedro (free, Roma)
Jamie Cumming (loan, Stevenage)
Trevoh Chalobah (loan, Lorient)
Ike Ugbo (loan, Cercle Bruges)
Izzy Brown (loan, Sheffield Wednesday)
Jamal Blackman (loan, Rotherham United)
Marc Guehi (loan, Swansea City)
Ethan Ampadu (loan, Sheffield United)
Tariq Uwakwe (loan, Accrington Stanley)
Michy Batshuayi (loan, Crystal Palace)
Kenedy (loan, Granada)
Conor Gallagher (loan, West Bromwich Albion)
Lewis Baker (loan, Trabzonspor)
Davide Zappacosta (loan, Genoa)
Luke McCormick (loan, Bristol Rovers)
Ross Barkley (loan, Aston Villa)
Jon Russell (loan, Accrington Stanley)
Matt Miazga (loan, Anderlecht)
Tiemoue Bakayoko (loan, Napoli)
Ruben Loftus-Cheek (loan, Fulham)
Malang Sarr (loan, Porto)
Marco van Ginkel (loan, PSV Eindhoven)
Juan Castillo (loan, AZ Alkmaar)
Nathan Baxter (loan, Accrington Stanley)
Ian Maatsen (loan, Charlton Athletic)
Victor Moses (loan, Spartak Moscow)
Jake Clarke-Salter (loan, Birmingham City)

Chelsea total spent to date: £222.5m
Chelsea total received to date: £66.6m

Chelsea net transfer balance: -£155.9m




Squad

1. Kepa Arrizabalaga (GK)
2. Antonio Rudiger (DF)
3. Marcos Alonso (DF)
4. Andreas Christensen (DF)
5. Jorginho (MF)
6. Thiago Silva (DF)
7. N'Golo Kante (MF)
8. Ross Barkley (MF)
9. Tammy Abraham (FW)
10. Christian Pulisic (MF)
11. Timo Werner (FW)
12. Ruben Loftus-Cheek (MF)
13. Willy Caballero (GK)
14. Fikayo Tomori (DF)
15. Kurt Zouma (DF)
17. Mateo Kovacic (MF)
18. Olivier Giroud (FW)
19. Mason Mount (MF)
20. Callum Hudson-Odoi (MF)
21. Ben Chilwell (DF)
22. Hakim Ziyech (MF)
23. Billy Gilmour (MF)
24. Reece James (DF)
28. Cesar Azpilicueta (DF)
29. Kai Havertz (MF)
33. Emerson Palmieri (DF)
- Jake Clarke-Salter
- Baba Rahman
- Davide Zappacosta
- Victor Moses
- Tiemoue Bakayoko
- Danny Drinkwater
- Marco van Ginkel
- Lewis Baker
- Charly Musonda



Possible starting XI

CHEXI



Fixture list

Chelsea will have to wait until Monday, September 14 for their opening game of the season, although they have been handed a relatively kind first fixture away to Brighton & Hove Albion.

Their first home game will see them welcome champions Liverpool to Stamford Bridge, though, and they look set for a difficult end to the campaign too.

May sees them face local rivals Fulham in a West London derby before taking on Manchester City, Arsenal and Leicester City in succession and ending the season away to Aston Villa.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp and Chelsea boss Frank Lampard argue on July 22, 2020© Reuters

SEPTEMBER

14: Brighton (a)

19: Liverpool (h)

26: West Brom (a)

OCTOBER

3: Crystal Palace (h)

17: Southampton (h)

24: Manchester United (a)

31: Burnley (a)

NOVEMBER

7: Sheffield United (h)

21: Newcastle (a)

28: Tottenham (h)

DECEMBER

5: Leeds (h)

12: Everton (a)

15: Wolves (a)

19: West Ham (h)

26: Arsenal (a)

28: Aston Villa (h)

Chelsea players celebrate Willian's goal against Manchester City on June 24, 2020© Reuters

JANUARY

2: Manchester City (h)

12: Leicester (a)

16: Fulham (a)

27: Wolves (h)

30: Burnley (h)

FEBRUARY

3: Tottenham (a)

6: Sheffield United (a)

13: Newcastle (h)

20: Southampton (a)

27: Manchester United (h)

MARCH

6: Everton (h)

13: Leeds (a)

20: Liverpool (a)

APRIL

3: West Brom (h)

10: Crystal Palace (a)

17: Brighton (h)

24: West Ham (a)

Chelsea manager Frank Lampard and Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta hug in December 2019© Reuters

MAY

1: Fulham (h)

8: Manchester City (a)

12: Arsenal (h)

15: Leicester (h)

23: Aston Villa (a)



Prediction: 3rd

Chelsea's summer business has been superb and could be enough to catapult them into immediate title contention - they will certainly expect to be a lot closer than the 33 points which separated them from Liverpool last season.

The starting XI looks as good as anything else in the division and they have plenty of strength in depth too, so they should be well equipped to cope with what is sure to be a relentless schedule with the cup competitions added as well.

However, for all of their good business they are arguably still a top-class goalkeeper - and perhaps one more centre-back - away from being on Liverpool and Man City's level, so we can see them finishing as the best of the rest, albeit it not too far behind those two teams.


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Chelsea's N'Golo Kante in action on February 1, 2020
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Todays Game Header Right
Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Liverpool64201541114
2Manchester CityMan City64111211113
3Chelsea64111221013
4Manchester UnitedMan Utd6411135813
5Everton6411127513
6Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton641185313
7West Ham UnitedWest Ham6321138511
8Aston Villa631297210
9Brentford62318539
10Arsenal6303510-59
11Tottenham HotspurSpurs630349-59
12Watford621379-27
13Leicester CityLeicester6213710-37
14Wolverhampton WanderersWolves620435-26
15Crystal Palace613269-36
16Southampton604247-34
17Newcastle UnitedNewcastle6033714-73
18Leeds UnitedLeeds6033614-83
19Burnley6024511-62
20Norwich CityNorwich6006216-140

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