To say Chelsea are going through a transitional phase is an understatement. With the departure of one Chelsea legend and the arrival of another, this Chelsea FPL team guide will look at a side that must regroup with depleted resources and the absence of their talismanic superstar.
The result for FPL managers is a much cheaper Chelsea squad than we’ve seen in recent seasons. Their lack of popularity (only Kante is selected by more than 10% of FPL managers at the time of writing) is as much an opportunity as it is an omen.
After all, transition or not, this is still Chelsea. There’s always going to be value if you look hard enough.
What style of football do Chelsea play?
Chelsea have traditionally opted for more defensive or reactive coaches playing a counter-attacking style. When Sarri arrived, they were forced to adopt a more possession-based, proactive way of playing.
This came with a lot of hiccups in the league season for Chelsea. After a strong start, their flaws started to show, especially in defending counters. The lack of tempo and penetration in their passing, combined with a lack of flexibility, was probably the death knoll for the Italian manager.
N’Golo Kante was shoehorned into an advanced midfield position more focused on making attacking runs into the box and pressing really high, which left Chelsea open.
In his place, a familiar face. On the one hand, Frank Lampard needs no introduction. On the other, here arrives a young, inexperienced manager at one of the biggest clubs in Europe.
Coming from Derby County, where he narrowly missed out on promotion in the playoff final to Aston Villa, Lampard had a chance to define his managerial style. His preferred formation is fairly flexible, usually lining up in either a 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 formation.
He adopted a safe style of build-up, looking to pass short to build around the flanks rather than through the centre. Equally, Derby’s fullbacks we more passive in their runs and positioning than many other teams in the modern game playing a similar style. Might this bode poorly for Azpilacueta and Alonso? Or was Lampard’s hand forced by the talent he had at his disposal at Derby? It remains to be seen.
Derby loved a shot on goal too. Players like Harry Wilson and Tom Lawrence stood out in particular – their quality almost certainly played a part as to how Derby managed to outperform their expected goals by such a decent margin.
Chelsea go into the new season with what might be arguably one of their weakest squads since their takeover in 2004. This isn’t helped by the magical Eden Hazard leaving for Real Madrid this summer too.
But it’s not all doom and gloom for the West London side. Players like N’golo Kante, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Antonio Rudiger, who were the brighter sparks last season, have remained at the club. Christian Pulisic is an exciting talent who could go some way to filling the void left by Hazard’s departure.
Add to this a plethora of young talent waiting on the wings, and perhaps Lampard’s task looks a little less daunting.
Lampard does not have enough managerial experience to have an identity yet. We’re still waiting to see what “Lampard-ball” will look like. What appears abundantly clear, however, is that the Chelsea legend is not daunted by the task, nor does he seem afraid to make the changes he deems necessary. That could mean an entirely new group of players emerging from the obscurity of loanee and academy life.
Once the storm settles, that might just be the best thing that’s ever happened to Chelsea.
Last season’s key statistics
Mauricio Sarri had an abundance of critics, the majority being ex-players or mediocre journalists harping on about the misuse of Jorginho and Kante, however, Chelsea performed on par with what was expected. They finished 3rd, and also ranked 3rd in the majority of statistical findings.
We can all agree that Man City and Liverpool were on another level last season. Without the pair, Chelsea topped the defensive leaderboard for clean sheets (16), goals conceded (39), shots conceded from inside (216) and outside (135) the box. Offensively, they will look to add more bite in the final third but still ranked above Liverpool for shots inside the box (378) and minutes per chance (6).
FPL fixture difficulty
The table above shows the fixture difficulty of Chelsea’s opening six matches, as determined by our clean sheet tracker and attacking tracker. These difficulty trackers are based on last seasons home/away specific performance statistics. Newly promoted sides statistics have been weighted according to their transitional value.
Who takes penalties for Chelsea?
Accordingly to our data, Jorginho is designated penalty taker for Chelsea. Willian expected to be next in line.
Which Chelsea players to pick on FPL?
Chelsea’s defenders are attracting a modest amount of attention from FPL managers. The £6.0m duo of David Luiz and Cesar Azpilacueta have a combined 19.4% ownership, which, Kante aside, is more than any two of their midfielders.
Still, it feels like an unnecessary decadence to be investing £6.0m into such an unknown entity under new management. What do we know about the pair? Well, they’re likely to get minutes and they’re likely to yield some attacking returns. As discussed in our Best Premium Defenders article, Luiz’ penchant for a through ball (he attempted the highest of any player in the Premier League last year) makes him particularly threatening. The fact these two could well be differentials by the time the season starts would’ve been mouth-watering a few seasons ago.
Plenty of managers have flirted with Chelsea’s midfield in seasons gone by. The likes of Willian (£7.0m), Pedro (£7.0m), Ross Barkley (£6.0m) and Callum Hudson-Odoi (£6.0m) have all enjoyed bursts of ownership that have fizzled out before long. Rotation has always been the lingering caveat to Chelsea’s attacking value and it continues to be as we approach the 2019/20 season.
With that said, there are plenty of bargains to be had if the Blues can establish some consistency in their line-up. Mason Mount (£6.0m) and Ross Barkley have both enjoyed impressive pre-season campaigns. It seems Lampard likes a player carved from his own mould: both Englishmen have goals in their locker.
The USA’s golden boy, Christian Pulisic (£7.5m), is the second-most owned Chelsea midfielder behind Kante. Though undoubtedly talented, his 8.1% ownership speaks volumes about the doubt that still circles his transition to the Premier League.
As far as Chelsea’s forwards go, the jury is so out that its neighbours are having to sign for its parcels. Olivier Giroud, Michi Batshuayi and Tammy Abraham (all £7.0m) look to be competing for a singular spot. Much like the midfield, there’s huge potential here if any of these players can nail it down. At the moment, it looks like Tammy Abraham is set to do that, but until we’ve seen further evidence, they’re probably best avoided.
The fact that Chelsea are such an unknown entity this season is a frustrating proviso for FPL managers looking to tap into a top-six side on a budget. The sensible among us will wait it out and invest once we know more. That leaves a window for the risk-takers; one that might well prove fruitful if Chelsea can start well.