As the Premier League comes to a halt and with the uncertainties surrounding the FA Cup and the Champions League, it is perhaps time for Chelsea to plan ahead for next season.
This season’s transfer ban and introduction of the young players give Frank Lampard leniency in terms of achievement. This is a transition period, after all.
But the honeymoon phase is drawing to a close; and with the transfer embargo now over, next season Chelsea should be challenging for the Premier League title.
It may sound optimistic given the 48-point gap between Chelsea and current league leaders Liverpool at the table.
However, despite the seemingly insurmountable distance to the top of the league, Chelsea are not actually that distant from challenging the two dominant sides.
Chelsea could have been challenging for the title but lacked in two things
Chelsea have registered the second-most key passes in the Premier League this season with 361 key passes, above Liverpool’s 353 only below Manchester City’s 422 (Whoscored). Defensively, Chelsea have the second-best record with only 8.5 shots conceded per game, only below Manchester City’s 7.5 per game (Liverpool concede an average 9.4 shots per game).
The expected goals (xG) and the expected goals conceded (xGA) statistics also back that up (Understat).
Chelsea have the third-highest expected goals (56.09) and fourth-lowest expected goals conceded (31.14 — Manchester City have the lowest xGA with 27.87) in the league this season but underachieved on both ends in the actual table (scored 51 goals and conceded 39 goals).
These data point to two problems at Chelsea; goalkeeping and goalscoring.
Kepa Arizzabalaga who has been the main man between the sticks for Chelsea had been criticised for his poor goalkeeping record, although he displayed improvement after being left out on the bench for five consecutive games.
Compared to Liverpool and Manchester City who have two best shot-stoppers in the league, Alisson and Ederson respectively, Chelsea are clearly lacking in goalkeeping quality.
At the other end, Chelsea are lacking alternative goalscorer to Tammy Abraham (13 goals), from either wings or midfield. Chelsea’s second topscorer is Mason Mount with six goals.
In comparison, Liverpool’s second top scorer is Sadio Mane (14 goals — first top scorer is Mohamed Salah with 16) and Manchester City has Raheem Sterling (11 goals — first top scorer is Sergio Aguero with 16).
Priorities in the summer transfer window
In summary, a better goalkeeper and a goalscoring winger or midfielder should be on top of Chelsea’s priority for the summer transfer window.
It may sound unfair for Kepa who has kept two clean sheets in his last two games, but for Chelsea to compete with Liverpool and Manchester City, they need a new figure behind the defenders.
Chelsea’s shortage of alternative goalscorers also gives another reason for the Blues to push for a move for Borussia Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho. The 19-year-old 14 goals (and assisted 15) in Bundesliga this season.
From the midfield, Mount and Ross Barkley can be developed into goalscoring force, as both have shown an eye for goal, especially in recent fixtures.