Frank Lampard knew Chelsea’s summer spending of £250million would be used as ‘a stick to beat him with’, as he put it himself.
Game No 2 of the season and Jurgen Klopp was already making pointed remarks about the Blues’ transfer window. ‘You cannot bring in the 11 best players in the world and just hope a week later they play the best football,’ the Liverpool boss said.
He’s right of course. Chelsea haven’t suddenly turned into the best team in Europe, or even England. After eight league games, Lampard’s side are only one point better off than they were this time last season.
Chelsea’s £250m summer has only earned them one extra point but progress has been made
There was the first half horror show against West Brom, which saw them go 3-0 down before coming back for a draw, dropped points against Southampton and a Carabao Cup exit to rivals Tottenham.
But there are signs of progress. The addition of goalkeeper Edouard Mendy and defenders Thiago Silva and Ben Chilwell have helped sure up a leaky defence, Timo Werner is starting to look like a £53m striker and Hakim Ziyech is finally fit and firing.
So how has Lampard’s £250m spend improved his side? Sportsmail takes a look…
The arrivals of goalkeeper Edouard Mendy and Thiago Silva have proved to be crucial
Fixing the leak
A reliable goalkeeper
Lampard’s priority in the summer seemed obvious – sign a reliable goalkeeper to replace Kepa Arrizabalaga.
Chelsea conceded 54 goals in the 2019-2020 season – the highest of all the teams in the top 10.
The Blues backline let in 18 more goals than Manchester United, 19 more than Manchester City and 21 more than Liverpool.
This season, however, Lampard’s side have a better record than United and Liverpool and have only conceded one more goal than City.
Mendy has proved a more reliable No 1 goalkeeper than former first choice Kepa Arrizbalaga
That record would likely have been even better had Mendy been signed at the start of the season.
Kepa started the campaign as the No 1 goalkeeper and made three errors leading to goals and he was indirectly at fault for others. When Lampard opted to drop the Spaniard, his replacement Willy Caballero didn’t cover himself in much glory.
Since he was instilled as first choice, Mendy has kept six clean sheets in nine games and has conceded just two goals.
The Blues have actually faced more shots than they had at this stage last season, but expected goals against shows they are limiting their opposition to lower quality chances – and have a reliable shot-stopper between the posts.
Strength in defence
The contribution of Silva should not be underestimated. Chelsea’s only free signing, Alongside Silva has provided a calmness and leadership in the centre of defence alongside Kurt Zouma. Many questioned whether the 36-year-old would have the stamina for the English top flight.
He may have had a rude awakening on his debut against West Brom, but since then, Chelsea have only conceded one goal while he’s been playing.
When both Silva and Mendy were unavailable for the home game against Southampton, the Blues conceded three times.
DEFENSIVE STATS 2019-2020
Goals conceded – 14
Shots faced – 72
Shots on target faced – 26
Clean sheets – 1
Expected goals against – 9.5
DEFENSIVE STATS 2020-2021
Goals conceded – 10
Shots faced – 82
Shots on target faced – 25
Clean sheets – 3
Expected goals against – 7.4
Chilwell has also proven to be a more reliable choice at left back than Marcos Alonso.
The defender can still get forward without getting caught out of position like the Spaniard used to do.
Attacking wise, the England international has also provided two assists and two goals in just five Premier League games.
The Blues have kept more clean sheets since Silva and Chilwell sured up their leaky defence
Fewer shots but more goals
They say money can’t buy you love but it can buy you goals with Chelsea currently the top scorers in the division.
Kai Havertz, Werner and Ziyech were signed for a combined fee of £180m and Lampard is starting to see a return for the money he spent.
After a slow start, Werner now has eight goals in all competitions including four in his last four league matches.
Ziyech missed the start of the season with injury but he has one goal and three assists in his first four top flight games, as well as a goal in the Champions League.
Timo Werner is now looking like a £53m striker with eight goals in all competitions
The Blues attack was already strong with the likes of Tammy Abraham, Christian Pulisic and Olivier Giroud leading the line last season.
Abraham has four goals and five assists in 12 games across all competitions.
But Lampard’s side are more clinical than they were last season. They have two more goals in the league despite taking 28 fewer shots.
Their shot conversion rate is up from 13.5 per cent to 19.1 per cent.
There will be tougher tests than Burnley and Sheffield United and it’s important to note that the Blues failed to score against United and Liverpool.
But 14 goals in the last five league games as well as seven goals in their last two Champions League outings will have pleased Lampard and he will hope his side can continue to be clinical in front of goal.
ATTACKING STATS 2019-2020
Goals – 18
Total shots – 133
Shots on target – 50
Shot conversion rate – 13.5
Expected goals – 15.2
ATTACKING STATS 2020-2021
Goals – 20
Total shots – 105
Shots on target – 48
Shot conversion rate – 19.1
Expected goals – 12
Hakim Ziyech is fit after missing the start of the season and has two goals and three assists