The situation is looking increasingly ominous for Frank Lampard after his side’s dismal run of form continued last night.
Goals from Wilfred Ndidi and James Maddison condemned the Blues to a 2-0 defeat by Leicester at the King Power Stadium – their fifth loss in eight Premier League matches after some brief respite against Morecambe and Fulham.
Chelsea have picked up just eight points from as many top-flight fixtures and currently languish down in eighth spot after an alarming slump that followed a terrific run of early-season form that had many tipping the club for the title.
Is Blues legend Lampard – who admits his future is “beyond his control” – now in serious danger of the sack? What exactly has gone wrong for Chelsea after a summer of heavy spending and brilliant start to the 2020/21 campaign?
If he was to be relieved of his duties, who might be selected as his successor at Stamford Bridge?
Standard Sport’s Chelsea correspondent James Robson was on hand to answer all your questions on Lampard and Chelsea.
Read all your questions, and James’s answers, below…
That’s all, folks!
A great question to finish up on.
Thanks for all the questions, helping James Robson cover plenty of ground. Feel free to read back through the hour below.
Q: So… what’s the problem?
…and finally, @Korrfi asks: What exactly do you think is the problem at Chelsea. Is it coaching, players or something else?
Last night was a whole series of issues. Without doubt they haven’t been helped a lack of pre-season or time on the training ground when they have so many new players to integrate. But that was true when they were on a 17-game unbeaten run.
Confidence is a huge issue and we can see it in Havertz and Werner in particular. But of late it has been the basics that have been missing.
They were at half pace against Arsenal. Same again last night – and against City a couple of weeks ago they were simply outclassed.
The nature of the goals conceded last night doesn’t reflect well on the work Lampard is doing on the training pitch. They were shambolic defensively.
Perhaps that was down to replacing Zouma with Rudiger – but again, that’s on Lampard for what was a really odd selection on the night.
Q: Why all the defensive changes?
Rupert on Facebook asks: Zouma is the latest player to be dropped as Lampard keeps changing his defence. What is his best back line?
The Zouma one is very odd. Particularly given Rudiger has gone from fifth choice to first since the start of the season.
His performance against Leicester might change that.
Chelsea have looked at their best at the back with James, Zouma, Thiago and Chilwell.
I think Thiago’s influence has waned markedly since Christmas still think a top class is required.
Joe on Facebook asks: Lampard doesn’t seem to know how to best use Havertz and Werner – why is that and where should they play?
By playing him as a No8, that’s about as close as Lampard can get to that position in Chelsea’s system.
But no matter where he plays, Lampard will want him to press high and be more of a creative influence.
Initially the plan was to place Havertz at the centre of Chelsea attack as the No10 and that is where he looked most at home. But there were too many issues elsewhere in the team to continue with that 4-2-3-1 formation.
Since then it’s been a case of shoe-horning him in and nothing has really worked. Whether that is down to a difficulty in adjusting hte the pace and physicality of the Premier League is not yet clear.
As for Werner, he’s been unfortunate in that he’s been moved around to plug gaps caused by injury to Ziyech and Pulisic. He prefers to play through the middle and needs a consistent run there.
Q: Is Lampard treated differently?
@devanshreddevil asks: Do you think Frank Lampard gets away with criticism because he is a legend of the English game?
I’ve read plenty of stories questioning Lampard’s long-term future, so I’m not sure he ‘gets away with it.’
But I have seen a lot on social about people questioning why he isn’t criticised more.
I don’t think it has anything to do with his playing record. I think there is an appreciation that he’s a straight talker, that he doesn’t duck questions – even when they are about his future. There is also an appreciation that he is trying to do the right things – build the right culture, give youth a chance etc.
The problem is that we also know the demands of life at Chelsea – and so does he. You only get time to build if you’re delivering trophies at the same time. Sometimes even that isn’t enough.
I would say we all realise he is inexperienced and still learning on the job. But it doesn’t matter if he get an ‘easy ride’ from the media – Abramovich’s opinion is the only one that counts.
Q: Are the players the problem?
@paulw443_paul asks: Do you think the problem might be the new players? Would the likes of Gilmour, Giroud, Barkley, Loftus-Cheek and Tomori have done better?
Chelsea’s business was the envy of Europe. They’ve signed some of the best, most exciting players in the world, so it’s hard to criticise the decision to buy and play Werner, Havertz and Ziyech. For a number of reasons, it’s gone wrong.
For instance, they barely had Ziyech available – and their best run came when he recovered from a knee injury, while their current slump began when he pulled his hamstring. He’s not looked the same player since coming back – and that’s a real problem for Lampard.
The fluidity of his side has gone completely. Werner is going through one of those ruts that strikers go though, but that is being exacerbated by a crisis of confidence going through the squad. Havertz just hasn’t found his feet – and getting a bad bout of Covid hasn’t helped.
But Lampard dropped Werner and Havertz last night and look what happened.
Q: If not Tuchel, then who?
@gor_man asks: In your option who is the best option to replace Frank?
I’ve kind of answered that in the previous question. I think Tuchel is outstanding – but he’s certainly not the only suitable candidate.
Max Allegri is ready and waiting for a job – which he’d prefer to be in England.
I know Ralph Hasenhuttl’s name has been mentioned quite prominently – and it’s hard not to be impressed by the job he’s done at Southampton, but I would think Abramovich would want that immediate hit from a top class manager. He’s gone for the patient approach with Lampard over the past 18 months – I’d imagine he wants tangible results now.
Brendan Rodgers would be an ideal fit if he went for a British-based option, but would he want to leave Leicester and a potential title challenge?
There’s always the chance of an interim appointment, but with Tuchel and Allegri available now, there might not be the need to wait.
Q: Tuchel up for the job?
@Sigurd95344447 asks: Would Tuchel be a good replacement for Lampard?
Tuchel is one of the top managers in the world and has proved that. He left PSG with his reputation intact – even if he was sacked.
He will not be short of offers and after working in Paris, the expectations of Chelsea wouldn’t daunt him in the slightest.
He is a really impressive person when you are in his company and the fact he’s German might also help to get the best out of Lampard’s two big summer signings in Werner and Havertz.
I know he has big admirers at Manchester United and it’s hard to think of a better option for Chelsea, if they do decide to make a change.
Q: January transfer business?
@Jai_D27 asks: Do you see Chelsea doing any business in January to fix this run of form?
Getting players out is the priority because Chelsea have a bloated squad, with too many senior/high-earning players on the fringes, which is far from ideal.
In terms of incomings, when you look at this Chelsea squad it’s difficult to see obvious areas in need for improvement. A top class centre back long-term, but otherwise there is strength and depth throughout.
None of this helps Lampard’s case at the moment because the issue is getting the best out of what he’s got – not replacing it. You wouldn’t replace Pulisic, Werner or Ziyech – and behind them there is cover in the form of Abraham, Giroud and Hudson-Odoi.
I still look at this Chelsea squad and think it is among the strongest in the league. I don’t think Lampard should be looking outside to improve it.
Q: How long has Lampard got?
@Attitude_Sayeed asks: How many games, do you think, Lampard has to turn things around? Four or five games?
I don’t want to put a number on it because, frankly, it’s down to the decision of one man and that’s Roman Abramovich. Previous Chelsea managers might not have lasted this long.
What I would say is that Chelsea have got three winnable home games against Luton, Wolves and Burnley. Defeat in any of them and I would worry – even more – for Lampard’s future.
Beyond that, it’s impossible to ignore the Champions League tie with Atletico Madrid next month.
Abramovich has been known replace managers in between the group stages and the knockouts in the hope improving their chances in Europe.
The title is almost certainly gone, but a run in the Champions League is not beyond them. If Abramovich thinks someone else stands a better chance of galvanising Chelsea in Europe, that could be decisive.