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Chelsea's Strongest Post-Coronavirus Line-up

As Coronavirus sweeps the nation, the country enters its second week of lockdown. On the 12th March 2020 prime minister Boris Johns...

As Coronavirus sweeps the nation, the country enters its second week of lockdown.

On the 12th March 2020 prime minister Boris Johnson announced “We are considering banning major public events like sporting fixtures", however, he also claimed, “We are guided by the science; there is no medical reason at the moment to ban such events.” 

With many mouthwatering fixtures remaining of the current season, sporting fans across the UK eagerly waited in anticipation of any potential news. 

A day later, after Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta and Chelsea youngster Callum Hudson-Odio fell victim to Coronavirus, the EFL and Premier League were suspended until the 3rd April. As the virus continued to spread and the numbers continued to rise, the date was exteznded to April 30th. With an uncertain future, all clubs await the green light to commence the remainder of the season.

Under the pandemic, all clubs have closed their doors for the foreseeable future. Players are completing training regimes at home as they look to maintain their fitness levels. The season may continue behind closed doors, if and when it does, Chelsea boss Frank Lampard will have a fully fit squad to choose from.

Throughout this campaign, The Blues have had their fair share of injuries and have been extremely unlucky in this department, with many key players suffering knockbacks at vital stages of the season. Just before the suspension of the league, Lampard’s threadbare side surprisingly managed to pick up some form, beating both Merseyside clubs, Liverpool and Everton, comfortably.  

With the abundance of injuries, players such as Ross Barkley, Olivier Giroud and teenage sensation Billy Gilmour forced their way into the side, all three individuals standing out immensely in the two victories. Upon the return of league fixtures, Lampard may have a difficult decision to make. Should Lampard’s selection revolve around rewarding the current form of his players or select those who, on paper, are historically seen as his ‘best’ players? Lampard’s strongest lineup ought to be a harmonious blend of the two, rewarding current form with stand out ability. With this in mind, this could well be Lampard’s strongest lineup:

GK: Kepa Arrizabalaga 

Kepa, the world’s most expensive goalkeeper, has come under huge amounts of scrutiny at the Bridge this season, whether it be from fans or the media. His performances simply haven’t lived up to his enormous price tag. Frequently making mistakes and conceding goals is unexpected in someone of his calibre, his displays haven’t lived up to his enormous price tag. After a string of poor performances, Kepa was replaced by Willy Caballero in the starting 11, a change which sparked a mass debate between the Chelsea fanbase. 

Thankfully for Chelsea, at only 25 years of old, Kepa has vast amounts of talent and potential. In a recent victory over Liverpool, the Spanish international resembled a goalkeeper oozing with confidence, displaying his underlying ability to the Chelsea fans and most importantly, to his boss Lampard. A triple-save helped to thwart Liverpool’s imposing front three, as a valuable clean sheet was earned to send Chelsea through to the FA-cup quarter-finals.

Hard work and dedication is a must for Kepa if he wants to fulfil his career goal of becoming Spain’s number one.  Perhaps the rumoured purchase of a goalkeeper in the upcoming transfer window may help to push Kepa on to greater things. Having competition for places at any top club is essential, but for Kepa, it could be the stepping stone needed to boost his performance levels. 

After claiming two clean sheets against Liverpool and Everton, Kepa deserves to retain his place in the starting lineup and hopefully will strive to conclude the campaign in the best possible way.

RB- Reece James

At right-back, the defensive powerhouse Reece James takes the spot after bursting onto the scene in this campaign. A dazzling first season in professional football at Championship side Wigan Athletic in 2018-19 had many Blues fans purring about what was to come. The youngster certainly hasn’t disappointed. 

The 20-year-old academy star has become a frequent starter for the first team, forcing captain Azpilicueta to his unnatural position, left-back. The youngster is so impressive, many would argue he is one of the first names on the team sheet. James offers an unprecedented attacking prowess, not seen in a Chelsea fullback since the likes of Ashley Cole and Branislav Ivanovic.  His standout trait is his Beckham-esque crossing technique, always delivering on the money or into menacing areas. Not only that, his one on one defending style is extremely assured as he is rarely caught out of position.  

At such a young age, James has an exciting career ahead of him and could be a mainstay in the Blues lineup for many years to come.  

CB- Andreas Christensen

Danish international Andreas Christensen is a player who thrives off of confidence, and when in form, he stands out as an extremely accomplished centre-back. Quick, good in the air, composed on the ball and a brilliant one-on-one defender, Christensen has all the attributes to reach the very top. 

He’s Chelsea’s best defender, however, when Christensen suffers a setback, for example making a mistake, his head drops and his confidence plummets. Lampard and many of the Chelsea fans have witnessed his talent, and know there is a quality player within him. With the form of Antonio Rudiger being so inconsistent, Christensen certainly deserves a run in the side post coronavirus crisis.

CB-Fikayo Tomori

Fikayo Tomori announced himself as a Chelsea player in style, when giving The Blues a lead away at Wolves in the Premier League. Tomori struck a sublime curling effort from distance,  in what proved to be a first-class performance from Lampard’s young side. 

Although Tomori has recently lost his place in the side, his exceptional pace and defensive capabilities are something that can’t be ignored.  The academy graduate has excelled at stages of the season and built a huge reputation for being one of Chelsea’s brightest youngsters. In a loss against Liverpool, Tomori nullified perhaps the Merseyside club’s biggest threat, Mohammed Salah. This provided the football world with the evidence of how talented the youngster is, displaying maturity and excellence way beyond his years. 

After a period out of the side, many of the Chelsea fanbase are calling for Tomori to be reinstated to the lineup, as should boss Lampard.

LB- Marcos Alonso

Marcos Alonso represents an experienced figure in this young Chelsea side, something crucial to balancing the squad between young and seasoned professionals.

Alonso is a player rejuvenated in recent weeks, his play reminiscent of what lives in the memories of ardent fans of the Spaniard. Alonso offers an immense attacking threat, quite often finding himself on the scoresheet, most recently scoring a brace to earn Chelsea a point at Bournemouth.

After the injury to left-back Emerson Palmieri, the Spaniard has grasped his opportunity with both hands, potentially being Chelsea’s standout player in recent weeks. When the season resumes, Alonso surely deserves to retain his starting birth.

CM- Mateo Kovacic

One player who perhaps is irreplaceable in this side is Mateo Kovacic. Many Chelsea fans would name Kovacic as their most influential and important player this season, which is a  huge testament to how far Kovacic has come. 

Kovacic’s standout trait is his ability to beat the press. Using his electric pace, nimble footwork and brute strength to glide past players with the ball is a real weapon for Chelsea, immediately setting them on the front foot. His combination play between him and his midfield partners also resembles a midfielder oozing with confidence. Kovacic isn’t afraid to put in a robust challenge either. With the form of ball-winning N'golo Kante dipping, Kovacic’s bite and tenacity in the tackle is something Chelsea very much need. 

CM- Billy Gilmour or N'golo Kante

After the emergence of teenage sensation Billy Gilmour, Chelsea has surfaced with another gem in their hands. The young Scottish super talent has taken to the first team like a duck to water. A shining light in The Blues side in recent weeks, Gilmour has showcased his undoubted ability and also his immense maturity when taking the leap to the first team. His form hasn't gone unnoticed, with manager Lampard constantly heaping praise on the youngster and most recently earning a Scotland u21 call up. Gilmour offers a lot to the Chelsea side, with his eye for a forward pass, tenacious tackling and composure on the ball. 

One player who may suffer from the form of Billy Gilmour is Ngolo Kante. Based on current form, Gilmour certainly deserves to remain in the season-ending eleven. Kante’s season has been full of injury setbacks, and when back from injury, he hasn't been able to rediscover his world-class form, where he was eulogised as a midfielder.  

However, when the season recommences, Lampard will be hoping Kante can rediscover his best form, as Chelsea will need all the possible experience and quality to help push them over the line in the race for top four. 

CM- Mason Mount

Mason Mount is pivotal to the way Chelsea’s high energy pressing game is executed. Mount leads from the front, instigating most high presses. In a system which needs high amounts of energy and stamina, Mount epitomises how it should be delivered.  Not only that, but Mount also offers great link-up play between the midfield and front line, always looking to break the lines and play forward between the half-spaces. 

For now, Mount deserves to retain his spot in the side in the lead up to the season's end. However, the return of Ruben-Loftus Cheek from injury will provide the side with much-needed competition, as both will look to battle it out for a starting role in The Blues midfield. 

RW- Willian

Willian takes the right-wing spot. In the race for top four, having the Brazilian’s gile and knowhow could be crucial for Chelsea in high-pressure situations. At 31 years of age, Willian is one of the oldest figures in the Chelsea squad, and experience is needed to help ease the burden on the young players. 

The speedy winger can be unplayable on his day and as his contract expires at the season's end, Willian will be hoping to leave on glowing terms. 

Young winger Callum-Hudson Odio has the potential to step in for the inevitable departure of Willian. The England international does have extremely high chemistry with Reece James on the right flank,  having the potential to be something very special in the future. But most importantly, Willian’s experience could be decisive in helping the Blues gain Champions League qualification.

ST- Tammy Abraham

The recent resurgence of Olivier Giroud is a major talking point amongst the Chelsea fanbase. After earning a place in the side due to Tammy Abraham’s injury, Giroud has been excellent, helping to give Chelsea’s youthful team an experienced focal point in attack. With goals against Spurs and Everton and the impact made in his all-round game, the Frenchman deserves to remain in the side.

However, Abraham’s fantastic early and mid-season form could well be enough to earn him a starting role post the coronavirus pandemic. The 22-year-old was in scintillating form before Christmas, as his ruthless finishing helped him to a tally of 15 goals in all competitions. It wasn't just his clinical nature in front of goal that earned him recognition, his all-round game has improved significantly. Abraham has evidently worked on hold up play and making use of his large and strong frame. 

With a rumoured incoming striker on the cards, Abraham may have some healthy competition in the upcoming campaign. This could be critical to the development of the England international. 
If Abraham rises to the challenge of competing against a high-quality striker for the starting role,
his all-round game will continue to flourish and potentially improve.

LW- Christian Pulisic

Christian Pulisic, the Hershey born, ‘boy wonder’ has had an excellent maiden campaign for The Blues.  The American international joined Chelsea in the January window of 2019, however, was immediately loaned back to his parent club Dortmund as part of the deal. Pulisic finally joined up with his Chelsea teammates in the summer of 2019, many Chelsea fans eagerly anticipating the youngster’s debut.

Pulisic’s lightning speed and fleet-footed dribbling style have drawn many similarities between him and his predecessor, Eden Hazard. Just like Hazard, the USA international is extremely exciting to watch as he bursts past players with ease. 

Before his recent injury, Pulisic was beginning to be a crucial member of Lampard’s side. His speed and agility allows him to beat the press and set Chelsea on the front foot. With six goals and six assists in all competitions to his name, the American star was producing eye-catching numbers, with a Premier League hat-trick against Burnley being a stand-out. 

Pulisic will be hoping for an instant impact when the football returns.

Tough decisions for Lampard

The footballing world waits with bated breath to see whether the season will recover. The only certainty there is is that Lampard will encounter some challenging decisions if he’s faced with choosing an end of season line up, which will undoubtedly cause a stir amongst the Chelsea fanbase.

Written by - @haz_williams00

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