Five things we learned from Chelsea's first pre-season friendly
Photo by Getty Images/Charles McQuilan

Five things we learned from Chelsea's first pre-season friendly

In Frank Lampard's first game in charge of the Blues, what can the supporters/players take from their underwhelming 1-1 draw with Bohemians?

joseph-lightfoot
Joseph Lightfoot

Pre-season friendlies are always an uncertainty and should not really be looked into too much ahead of the commencement of the Premier League season. Even more so if it is the manager’s first game in charge, as it was Frank Lampard’s.

Nevertheless, Chelsea's pre-season training is well underway now and Lampard has undoubtably started making plans ahead of their opening match against Manchester United.

Between then and now their is clearly a lot of work to be done to after Chelsea conceded a late goal to draw 1-1 with Bohemians.

Batshuayi looks sharp

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Michy Batshuayi may have been playing against a defence of the League of Ireland Premier Division, but the Belgium performed well against a physically imposing back four.

The striker didn’t stop running and was rewarded for his persistence with a goal inside the opening 10 minutes. More impressive though was his hold-up play and clever runs in and around the area.

The man on loan at Crystal Palace last season will never be the most prolific Premier League striker but he will challenge defenders and cause them problems with his movement and strength. He could be exactly what Chelsea need to bring in wide players such as new signing Christian Pulisic through his tremendous hold-up play.

For mush of last season, Chelsea lacked any pace in that role and often looked flat in the final third with a serious lack of movement in the penalty box. The same problem will almost definitely not reoccur should he be given the chance up top.

Lampard will prioritise youth

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It is no surprise that Lampard – who himself scored against Bohemians 12 years ago in a friendly – is already using this time to promote and scout out his best young talent.

In his friendly, he fielded a very youthful side including the likes of Marc Guehi, Dujon Sterling, Ethan Ampadu, Kasey Palmer and Conor Gallagher in his starting eleven and brought on Trevoh Chalobah, Lewis Baker, Ian Maatsen, Izzy Brown, Billy Gilmour and Jamie Cumming amongst his 11 changes at half time.

From his time at Derby County and with Jody Morris as his assistant, Chelsea should expect this to continue. The Blues have a plethora of talent in their academy ranks which will be used throughout the campaign as Lampard has already done at Derby with the likes of Mason Mount and Fikayo Tomori.

Not afraid to change formation

Last season, Maurizio Sarri seemed to be completely set on playing a 4-3-3 formation whatever the occasion and whoever the opponent. It is fair to say that the players/supporters will not have to endure this under Lampard.

As he showed in this friendly and at Derby, Lampard isn’t afraid to change formations mid-game in a bid to sure up the defence or go all out attack. Granted, Lampard won’t have the option to make 11 changes at half-time in many other games this season, but the principle still remains: Lampard will change his tactics throughout the season.

Against Bohemians, he played both a 4-2-3-1 and a 4-5-1 formation which was shifted into a 4-3-3 at times during the game when in possession.

Not a dream start for the new boss

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A dull 1-1 draw against a team of far lesser quality was perhaps not the start Lampard would have dreamed of.

Of course, he experimented; of course, he played a very weak side to give his younger players a great experience; of course, neither of the two 11’s will be anything near the team that will start against Man United on the opening day of the season; but that still doesn’t justify the quite lacklustre performance.

These young players should have been looking to put in the performance of their lives to try and impress their new manager in their rare opportunity, but hardly any of them really took it.

There was no standout young player for Chelsea in the draw in which one of their senior players scored. Even the other senior players such as Pedro, Kurt Zouma and Tiémoué Bakayoko were off the pace and have a long way to go if they are to be Premier League ready, it would seem.

Ampadu stands out

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Of all the promising young Chelsea talent on show, it was the better known Empadu who shined brighter than any other. Ampadu has made just one appearance for Chelsea in the Premier League which actually made him one of the most capped players out there.

The 18-year-old showed a real grit and determination in the heart of midfield and looked like one of Chelsea’s best players in the 45 minutes he was given. He is a tough player who isn’t afraid to put himself about and make big challenges which he constantly did throughout the first half.

Currently, Chelsea’s holding midfielder role is occupied by N’Golo Kante so there is little chance of the youngster playing regular first team football anytime soon.

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