Two ways Frank Lampard can setup Chelsea vs Newcastle to give Mauricio Pochettino head start
Frank Lampard will take charge of his 11th and final match as Chelsea interim head coach on Sunday afternoon as the Blues welcome Newcastle United to Stamford Bridge. The fact it is the final game of the season will be music to the ears of Chelsea supporters all around the world.
It has been a truly disastrous campaign for the football club despite over £600million being spent on new signings over the past couple of transfer windows under the ownership of Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital. Sixteen defeats this season is an unwanted club record for Chelsea, with Thomas Tuchel, Graham Potter and Lampard all being in charge at Stamford Bridge.
A new chapter is nearly upon us, with Mauricio Pochettino expected to be confirmed as the next permanent head coach in the near future. Lampard’s 10 games in charge thus far – with eight defeats, one draw and one win – have done little to excite Chelsea supporters but they may actually have proven very helpful to Pochettino.
The Argentine will have undoubtedly been watching the majority of these matches to try and get some sort of head start ahead of his appointment at the end of the season. The Chelsea side Lampard fielded against Manchester United may have really helped Pochettino as well, with a very young team going head-to-head with Erik ten Hag’s players.
At 23 years and 238 days, it was Chelsea’s youngest-ever Premier League XI and that was with 33-year-old Cesar Azpilicueta at right-back. Alfie Gilchrist, a regular captain in the Chelsea Development Squad, was named on the bench in the defeat to Man United on Thursday, could possibly be in with a chance of some sort of game-time.
If Lampard did choose the highly-rated centre- back from the start against Newcastle, then it would give Pochettino an opportunity to see one of the club’s academy stars in action. Below are two possible ways Chelsea could lineup on Sunday. Either one of these sides would really benefit Pochettino because the likelihood is that most of these players – with most of them being really young – will be at the club next season.
Possible XI (4-2-3-1) : Kepa; Chalobah, Silva, Fofana, Hall; Fernandez, Chukwuemeka; Madueke, Felix, Mudryk; Havertz. Possible XI (3-4-2-1) : Kepa; Gilchrist, Silva, Chalobah; Azpilicueta, Fernandez, Chukwuemeka, Hall; Mudryk, Madueke, Felix.
Carney Chukwuemeka impressed on Thursday , so he is in contention for back-to-back starts for the first time as a Chelsea player. Meanwhile, Noni Madueke also caught the eye with his directness and trickery at Old Trafford. Mykhailo Mudryk needs to improve, no doubt, but he could also start against Newcastle.
It’s unlikely Kepa Arrizabalaga will be Chelsea’s No.1 goalkeeper by the start of next season with the club actively looking to improve in that area over the summer transfer window. Andre Onana and David Raya are two shot-stoppers being looked at intensely ahead of the window. Enzo Fernandez once again showed his class on Thursday night and the fact he’s started every game since signing for Chelsea in January proves his worth to the side.
He will undoubtedly play a massive part under his compatriot Pochettino when the Argentine takes over. It will be interesting to see which one of Joao Felix or Kai Havertz start against Newcastle. Felix probably deserves to after he scored a fine solo goal against Man United, which proved only a consolation, after coming off the bench in the second-half. Felix could still have a part to play under Pochettino, with Chelsea considering making another loan move for the Atletico Madrid attacker.
Havertz is likely to be at Stamford Bridge next season but it remains to be seen what sort of role he will have, with the club scouring the transfer market for a new No.9.