Does Chelsea have a Frank Lampard problem?

After 10 games, one might think that Frank Lampard, the engine and inspiration behind most of Chelsea’s offensive production over the past 5 seasons, has run into a torrid patch of form.  This is mostly due to his low goal return – one in the Premiership and one in the Community Shield.  Most fans expect 3 or 4 goals by now, especially against the relatively weak opposition that Chelsea have faced thus far in the Champions League and EPL.

But before we condemn Frank Lampard, let’s wind back our memories to the summer of Real Madrid spending.  Carlo Ancelotti arrived and sought Andrea Pirlo to be the visionary passer in his midfield diamond.  The Italian didn’t arrive, and nobody filled his role.  According to some.

According to me, Lampard is now positioned as an advanced Pirlo (who doesn’t score a tremendous amount of goals, but is the offensive heartbeat  of AC Milan).  The goal drought is more due to formation and position rather than a failure of Lampard’s or bad form.

In Mourinho’s 4-3-3, the wingers knew they couldn’t only rely on crosses to Drogba and cutting inside to take the occasional shot to win games.  Enter Lampard.  He excelled at arriving and providing a lethal 3rd option.  Thus the 20-goal seasons.

Carlo Ancelotti’s Chelsea plays a midfield diamond, with Lampard supposedly at the top.  But he lacks the right qualities to fill this role and has dropped a little deeper than players who naturally can fill this role like Kaka.  Nonetheless Chelsea play the diamond.

The change in formation requires less goal return from the midfield because two strikers lurking in the box will both score more goals and require service.  Both of these will drain the midfield of its goals, but not its productivity.

Frank Lampard already has four EPL assists in 7 games.  Last season he recorded 10 in 37 games.  One could argue that Lampard has adopted a Pirlo mindset, but not quite his position.  As he fans out dangerous passes to the in-form Malouda, Anelka, and Drogba while staying a little deeper, Lampard is actively contributing to Chelsea’s good start to the season.  For this, he is labeled as out of form.

Granted, his finishing has suffered under Ancelotti.  He seems to be missing chances that three or four years ago, he would bury ten times a season.  Perhaps he is uncomfortable in his new semi-trequartista, semi-Pirlo position.  In any case, I’m not sure Chelsea fans have a great cause to be worried.  The system seems to be working for the rest of the team, and even if Lampard won’t get his 20 goals, he’ll rack up many more assists.  If the sort-of-diamond can bring back the silverware of the EPL title or the Champions League, even Lampard won’t complain.

10 thoughts on “Does Chelsea have a Frank Lampard problem?”

  1. There’s less space because Chelsea aren’t playing with 2 wingers. When your midfield consists of Essien/Lamps/Ballack/Malouda, and instead of another wide player, you’ve brought on Anelka that seems quite obvious.

    Besides the hick up at Wigan (which is all that it was, I think), Chelsea are winning. I think that’s more important than goal tallies.

  2. Good article. It’s not only the goal-scoring that worries me, it’s the general performance. One could easily argue that two strikers with a total of 10 goals are taking away the goal scoring opportunities. He hasn’t really been in too many goal scoring positions and I don’t really think his finishing is weaker. He missed easy chances all the time – he just had more of them to make up for it.

    In only one match, against Sunderland, did I think Lampard played up to his very high standards. He was pretty good against Spurs as well. It seems like he isn’t getting the space on the pitch that he enjoyed under previous managers. It’s unfortunate, but the team is doing well regardless and I think that’s the most important thing for Chelsea. As you said, he has a good amount of assists already.

  3. While winning is more important than goal tallies, it does say a lot when you lack a finishing touch against weaker teams. Chelsea barley beat Hull, which is a team that gave up 5 goals to Tottenham and 6 goals to Liverpool.

    As for Lampard, he is an amazing player who isn’t being played in his usual position. Comparing how Steven Gerrard plays for England against how he plays for Liverpool, you can see a clear difference in much the same way.

    I am interested to see how Chelsea play this weekend against Liverpool, as this is their first game against a top four EPL team. Last year, Chelsea had 17 points from 7 games and looked dangerous, only to fall from grace quickly. They ended up sacking a manager who was working brilliantly at the start of the season and took third place behind Manchester United and Liverpool.

    I don’t think Chelsea will win this weekend, because of the miscommunication between the manager and the players. Scolari was a great manager, but when the team wasn’t winning the players didn’t fall into line and start listening to him. They instead blamed him and got him fired. I can already see the same situation happening this year.

    I have a feeling we are going to see a 3-1 Liverpool win that will become the first real dent in Chelsea’s armor. What happens after that will be more interesting than the game.

    How long does Ancelloti have?

    1. Chelsea have dropped points once in 10 matches. You’re going a little overboard, I have to say. You could easily use the same theory against Liverpool and United. Liverpool lost to Tottenham whom Chelsea beat 3-0; United lost to Burnley whom Chelsea beat 3-0.

  4. It is ironic that whenever someone tries to judge a player, he looks at his goals tally. It is true that mostly those players become famous or get awards who have a high goals tally. However, there has to be a way of rewarding players like Ryan Giggs and others who are instrumental in maintaining the balance of the side but seldom come to limelight.

    I think Lampard is going through a phase where his goal scoring has suffered a bit but his importance to the team has stayed the same. That is why i believe a good player is always an asset and he might be having a good or a bad time, but his mere presence on the field can comfort fans and inspire other players on the field!
    Jabran Kundi

  5. Scolari was a great manager? Please, this guy was compeltely out of touch with his squad. His claim that “it would take up to four months of training ground work to get Anekla and Drogs playing together up front” was a total farce. It takes a quote “awful” manager to be able to turn a player of Drogs quality into a bench player of all things! He was adrift of any tactical changes during a match, and his man managment approach turned the Chelsea players off. You won’t see Ancelloti making such basic mistakes…Roman wanted him from the start and will be given ample time with this team.
    Chelsea 3 – Pool 2 in a thriller.

  6. Lampard is playing very well he’s contributing to the team as usual the only thing is that is not scoring goals but i m sure he will score against liv’pool as he did last season against them in the champions league and lampard knows very well how to answer the critics

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