Chelsea’s next transfer window priority is obvious for Frank Lampard

What would you choose if you could strengthen one area of Chelsea’s starting XI this summer?

The arrivals of Hakim Ziyech, Timo Werner and maybe even Kai Havertz probably make you look elsewhere than the attacking line-up.

True, midfield depth could be added alongside the likes of N’Golo Kante and Mateo Kovacic.

But the defensive issues suffered throughout the 2019/20 season mean that most Chelsea supporters will want to see reinforcements at the back this summer.

A 4-1 hammering against Bayern Munich in the second leg of the Champions League last 16 led to an unwanted record for Frank Lampard in his first season in charge. 79 goals conceded in all competitions worked out at the worst ratio of goals conceded per game since the 1990/91 campaign – averaging 1.44 goals conceded per game.

Such a poor record suggests that there are either systematic issues with how Lampard set his team up or problems with personnel.

The former points towards a theory that we can’t yet draw conclusions from in terms of questioning Lampard’s overall quality to coach defensive principles. Just 12 months with a team should be viewed as too small a timeframe to properly judge him as a manager.

But what we can see in terms of overall performance is that Chelsea ranked relatively well in defensive metrics.

The Blues ranked as the fourth-best side in terms of Expected Goals (xG) conceded with 38.1 last season which shows how effective they were from a forecasted perspective.

Moreover, Lampard’s side conceded the second-fewest amount of shots all season – averaging just 7.13 shots against per game. That ranking was better than Liverpool (7.79) and Manchester United (8.83) who were both judged to have defensively secure backlines.

As a result, those statistics suggest that it isn’t a structural issue that has led to calls for changes in defensive areas this summer. Instead, several error-prone performances have masked what has been an otherwise impressive season from a defensive perspective.

A key area in which Chelsea should look to strengthen this summer is between the sticks. Kepa Arrizabalaga has significantly underperformed in terms of xG and, while Willy Caballero has been somewhat of a stop-gap, he only presents a short-term solution at the age of 38.

As shown in the graphic below, Kepa conceded six open-play goals from outside the box throughout the 2019/20 campaign which raises concerns over his ability to be Chelsea’s number one goalkeeper.

Kepa’s shots on target faced map, Premier League 2019/20 (Image: Twenty3)

While this doesn’t tell us much more than we already knew about Kepa’s poor 2019/20 campaign, it raises reasonable questions with regards to Chelsea’s defensive display as a whole.

54 goals conceded compared to an xG total of 38.1 tells us everything we need to know about Chelsea’s defensive instability between the sticks this season.

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Placed within the context of good defensive rankings as a team, though, it could be suggested that things may change very quickly if the personnel is changed.

What this situation presents us with is an interesting conundrum of Chelsea needing slight changes in terms of transfer arrivals rather than wholesale shifts in setup.

Therefore, it might be reasonable to suggest that such a torrid 2019/20 campaign from a defensive perspective is what is needed for the Blues to act decisively in the transfer market.

All statistics via Wyscout

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