What Chelsea must do before the January transfer window as Premier League returns
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Had you pulled Frank Lampard into a meeting and asked what was up with Chelsea six weeks ago, you'd have been there for a while.
A goalkeeper on borrowed time, a defence that seemed destined to leak goals and a club record signing who was struggling to fire.
Now though, there is a sense that answers are being found and the Blues boss will be telling his players "more of the same boys" when they visit Newcastle at the weekend.
Admittedly not all issues have been completely resolve – how to truly get the best from Kai Havertz still needs to be found, the German so far not showing his very best.
But the Chelsea machine is beginning to roll and in the coming weeks keeping the momentum going will be key.
Lampard will know all too well that momentum works both ways – last season he experienced both ends of the spectrum as he desperately sought consistency.
Frank Lampard looks to have solved some of his defensive issues
(Image: Chelsea FC via Getty Images)
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The 42-year-old is a year older, a year wiser, and you would hope there won't be a repeat.
In fact, there's a small sense of deja vu about the season thus far in west London.
At this stage last term they had just one point less than the 17 they have been able to acquire thus far.
They were also beginning to get going and were two games into a six-match winning streak; this time, Lampard's Chelsea have won their last two and have winnable games comes coming up.
So the question for Lampard is have you learnt your lessons? Or are the players you bought in during the summer splurge already offering up the necessary answers.
Edouard Mendy has enjoyed a positive start to life in north London
(Image: Pool via REUTERS)
Edouard Mendy in between the sticks, looks to be a winner. And talking of winners Thiago Silva has begun to settle in nicely at the heart of defence.
The Brazilian brings with him a winning mentality and is already helping marshal the inexperienced, but talented, individuals in Chelsea's backline; Reece James has already been eulogising about learning from the ex-PSG and Milan man.
That defensive steel – sorely lacking last term – allows the forward line to do their thing. In that respect, Lampard need not worry about the forthcoming January transfer window.
Within his squad the club legend has the answers, it's now down to him to find the right combinations and it is here where there is a balancing act required that will test his coaching credentials and tactical savvy.
Hakim Ziyech has impressed his Blues team-mates
(Image: Getty Images)
Certain players are making his job easy. Hakim Ziyech is a star and the Moroccan has wasted no time in showing the quality we saw so often at Ajax.
Timo Werner, who is coming off his best season to date, looks a ready made Premier League star and has already been among the goals.
Mason Mount is reliable, capable of brilliant moments while Christian Pulisic is a match winner – they just need to keep him fit.
Had Kai Havertz not cost £72million then you could consider leaving him out until he's fully up to speed, but playing games looks the only option on that score, and there have been glimpses of what he can bring when he's fully 'at it'. There's no doubt that the talent is there.
One of Lampard's toughest assignments is proving to some of his players that they will continue to have bright futures at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea look a far more polished outfit this term
(Image: Alex Livesey/POOL/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)
Callum Hudson-Odoi has been the subject of bids from Bayern Munich and his future remains in doubt, unable to nail down a starting spot.
Transfer speculation continues to follow Jorginho, despite his status as vice-captain, while Emerson Palmieri can go if anyone wants him.
As for Kepa Arrizabalaga, the world's most expensive 'keeper, just how do Chelsea manage to get him off their books? It's unlikely they'll even manage to land a quarter of their £71million outlay.
Other players like James and Tammy Abraham have continued their upward trajectories and are helping form a team that has a lovely balance and versatility to it.
It can attack with speed and flair, dominate possession and pin opponents, go direct and use a target man to play off, while also now boasting a more pragmatic edge – witness the 0-0 draw at Old Trafford – and being more defensively resolute.
In the coming weeks, Lampard must continue to tweak what is beginning to look like a winning formula.
The onus is firmly on the man in the dugout to keep the ball rolling and the coming encounters will show just how close to last season's top two the Blues can push this term.
Where will Chelsea finish in the Premier League? Have your say here.
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