Chelsea didn’t even make it half way through this season before they were out of the Premier League title race.
A 2-1 defeat to Manchester City in November had Chelsea 11 points behind leaders Liverpool, and a shock 1-0 loss to West Ham United a week later made things worse. Even if you ignore the Reds’ stunning form, Chelsea were ten points behind second place by mid-December.
The Blues’ unconvincing form told us nothing we didn’t already know – Chelsea were good, but there was a long way to go before they would be competing for the title again.
It quickly became clear that one of Chelsea’s biggest issues was consistency in attack. Tammy Abraham has impressed, but aside from him, Frank Lampard’s forward line have lacked both goals and assists.
Chelsea knew they needed to be active in the transfer market to fix this, and by landing both Hakim Ziyech and Timo Werner, they have addressed that.
At the time of writing, Werner has been involved in 45 goals this year (32 goals, 13 assists) and Ziyech 29 (eight goals, 21 assists). That’s elite-level goalscoring and creativity, and Chelsea fans can be confident of an exciting season next year. Goals win games, and the Blues promise to be full of goals.
However, if Chelsea fail to add to Ziyech and Werner, the title will likely still be too far away.
Fixing the lack of consistent goalscoring will make Chelsea contenders. The title should be within reach for the vast majority of the season. Unfortunately for Lampard, there are still holes in the squad which need fixing.
When you watch Chelsea, you’ll see the Blues create a fantastic number of chances, but you’ll also see them give away far too many. In defence, they have simply been nowhere near good enough.
In 29 games, Lampard’s side have shipped 39 goals – as many as the entirety of the 2018/19 season. No title-winning side has conceded more than that in an entire campaign since the Manchester United of 2012/13. Chelsea haven’t even exceeded that total since the disastrous 2015/16 season.
That’s the problem Lampard really needs to fix. Chelsea cannot bank on outscoring their opponents each week. That’s not how titles are won.
To the Blues’ credit, it looks like the focus is now on improving at the back. Outside of a move for Kai Havertz, Chelsea are pushing to sign Leicester City left-back Ben Chilwell, and 90min understands Napoli centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly is back on the radar after the Serie A side lowered their asking price.
If those targets are out of reach, finding alternatives of the same magnitude is a must. No future stars, just actual stars. Until Chelsea become more reliable in defence, they’ll never win a title.
Sure, Chelsea may improve without recruiting. Kepa Arrizabalaga might remember how his hands work. Fikayo Tomori & Andres Christensen may explode into superstars. Marcos Alonso might decide to actually defend.
But they’re all hypothetical. Gambling on all those things happening is not the way to win. Put together a team who you know can go all the way and you probably will.
Signing Werner and Ziyech makes Chelsea an outstanding team. Those two will make Chelsea great in attack, while Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Mateo Kova?i? will orchestrate things in midfield. However, until Chelsea have defenders they can rely on, it’s probably best for fans to temper their expectations for now.
The rebuild has only just begun.
For more from ?Tom Gott, follow him on ?Twitter!