The busy Christmas and New Year period is now behind us but that doesn’t stop the games coming thick and fast and movement up and down the Premier League table from most clubs can be rapid with results still turning up unexpected.
Chelsea however are seemingly on a current downward spiral and the pressure on manager Frank Lampard this week is surely going to take up a lot of column inches.
Torn apart and picked off easily by a resurgent but under strength Manchester City at the weekend has people everywhere starting to question whether Lampard is the right man for the job at Stamford Bridge given how brittle a manager’s tenure can be in West London.
Only a couple of weeks ago it was Jose Mourinho in the firing line after Spurs went four games without a league win and dropped from leading the table to sixth in such a short space of time. The Blues are on a run of just one win in their last six league games with every inch being examined despite Chelsea being only three points off the top four with around half the season left to play.
Many will point to the money spent by them in the summer, some £200 million after the transfer embargo of last season was lifted, Lampard having a ‘free hit’ using only the players at the club prior to his arrival. Few were alarmed at eleven league games lost, a figure that can’t be repeated if Chelsea are to get closer to Liverpool and challenge for the title.
Having lost five games already this term and trail the champions by seven points having played a game more, they don’t look like they are closing the gap despite the considerable investment in the team. Losing that many already doesn’t leave much margin for error full stop but whether the manager has in his mind the exact team he wants to play is doubtful.
Both Tammy Abraham and Olivier Giroud began the game on the bench against City with Timo Werner preferred in the central striker role up front but failed to make any more of an impression than he had previously on the left wing, the German struggling to come to terms with the Premier League since his summer switch from RP Leipzig although he has netted eight times this season, the goals maybe masking the unsure performances.
It seemed Lampard had solved the goalkeeping problem with the acquisition of Edouard Mendy from Rennes, an area where Kepa wasn’t seen as the long term solution in the eyes of the Englishman.
A lack of managerial and top-flight experience will be pointed to when runs like this invest themselves in the team, whilst all the titles and cups won as a player will not guarantee Lampard success but there is a lot of time left this season to turn things around.
After the weekend’s FA Cup tie the Blues face struggling Fulham in the West London derby at Craven Cottage followed by a trip to fellow challengers Leicester before returning to Stamford Bridge to entertain Wolves and Burnley, supporters would be expecting a return of at least nine points by the end of the month which would put the bad run to bed and the side back in contention once again.
With less to scrutinise this season, results and performances are being dissected more easily and attention is being paid in bigger doses every single day, Lampard has broad shoulders but can he continue to carry the expectation of Roman Abramovich and the board in the dreary month of January, the next few weeks will be telling.
Follow Trevor on Twitter @trevk37