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2019/20 Premier League preview - Chelsea: Can Christian Pulisic fill void left by Eden Hazard for Frank Lampard?

Richard Jolly runs the rule over Chelsea ahead of the new season, including key player, new signing to watch and predicted league finish

Chelsea manager Frank Lampard has been unable to replace Eden Hazard this summer. Press Association
Chelsea manager Frank Lampard has been unable to replace Eden Hazard this summer. Press Association

The favourite son is back. Frank Lampard can appear the opposite of Maurizio Sarri, a manager who did not understand Chelsea and who the fans disliked, but the objectives will be the same: to finish in the top four and win silverware.

The context has changed, though, with Eden Hazard gone, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Ruben Loftus-Cheek injured, Chelsea labouring under a transfer ban, though still signing the unproductive Mateo Kovacic.

It will be interesting to see how many opportunities Lampard gives youngsters Mason Mount, Tammy Abraham, Reece James and Fikayo Tomori; it could be an indication of a change of ethos.

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Who finishes where in 2019-20?

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Key player: Jorginho

Booed by fans last season, in part because he was seen as Sarri’s favourite and partly because his 3,118 Premier League passes did not bring a single assist.

Lampard is unlikely to afford the Italian preferential treatment and should recalibrate the midfield to emphasise N’Golo Kante’s strengths so it will be instructive how he uses Jorginho.

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Chelsea youngsters impress in pre-season

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Signing to watch: Christian Pulisic

Actually bought in January, as Chelsea sought to future-proof themselves against the transfer ban and Hazard’s departure, but arriving now. With Hudson-Odoi injured, the American winger assumes a further importance.

At 20, he is one for the future, but he has never scored over four Bundesliga goals in a season. Chelsea need more than that.

Talking point: Who will get the goals?

Hazard scored twice as many league goals as any other Chelsea player last season when Willian’s diminishing return was an issue and Loftus-Cheek was the only midfielder to get more than three.

It is in part a question of the system, but also of the striking pecking order as the underused Olivier Giroud was the Europa League’s top scorer, Michy Batshuayi averaged a goal every 151 minutes for Crystal Palace and Abraham struck 26 times for Aston Villa. Yet none, arguably, would be starting for any of the other top-six sides and Chelsea could be the least potent of the elite.

Prediction: 5th

Updated: August 2, 2019 03:25 PM

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