It looks increasingly likely that Frank Lampard will primarily operate a 4-2-3-1 formation this season after testing out a number of different systems in pre-season. It was that very formation that looked so impressive against the La Liga champions Barcelona with the Blues coming out on top in a 2-1 victory. Some Chelsea players can count themselves lucky that the club have to operate under a transfer ban for the entirety of this coming campaign, because if they didn’t their squad places would certainly be under threat. None more so than the striking department, who Lampard only has two senior strikers and a rising youth star to choose from.
Olivier Giroud has won a Ligue 1 title with Montpellier, four FA Cups, three Community Shields, a Europa League and a World Cup yet he isn’t guaranteed to be the main man leading Lampard’s attack this season. Firstly, Tammy Abraham has been given the infamously ‘cursed‘ number nine shirt but that hasn’t fazed him one bit – could this be a hint towards who the Blues boss believes is their first-choice striker? Abraham was on loan last season in the Championship where he scored 26 goals in 40 appearances for Aston Villa. Lampard will know that all too well having managed Derby County, the side Villa defeated in the playoff final to mark their Premier League return. The 21-year-old bagged a goal in both of their regular season head-to-head matches too.
The Frenchman’s potential omission wouldn’t be strictly down to his ability – he has always been regarded as an undervalued Premier League footballer and even though that debate has been and gone, it was still accurate. Giroud just doesn’t have the right attributes to thrive in a Lampard system. At Derby, he had Mason Bennett, Martyn Waghorn, Tom Lawrence and Jack Marriott – and somehow managed to give them all over 40 appearances last season. An interesting point is that none of the quartet are above 5 foot 11 in height – perhaps an indication that the use long ball and a target man was never really an option. Lampard likes his strikers to be able to stretch opposition defences and this isn’t really part of Giroud’s game. The 32-year-old is a lot taller at 6 foot 4 and is certainly more of a target man. Abraham may only be one inch smaller than the World Cup winner but he is far more dynamic meaning his rapid acceleration and power is perfect to do what Lampard needs – stretching the defence.
Without writing off Michy Batshuayi too much either – he would probably be sold but for the transfer ban. He’s very much in the similar mould of Messrs Abraham, Marriott and Bennett. The Belgian also has a better Premier League strike-rate than Abraham having bagged 12 goals in 43 appearances between his time at Stamford Bridge and out on loan at Crystal Palace. By comparison, Chelsea’s new number nine managed 8 goals in 39 appearances for Swansea before they were relegated. For now, Batshuayi is a viable back up option to Abraham – expect that, as well as Chelsea’s striking department to change substantially in 365 days’ time.