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Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink on Chelsea, Tammy Abraham, Kepa and Newcastle

| 19.11.2020

Chelsea had started to pick up form before the last international break as their new summer signings began to gel.

Speaking to us ahead of his Leeds versus Arsenal Ladbrokes 5-A-Side selection,  Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink discussed how Frank Lampard is slowly moulding the team in his image.

On Chelsea’s chances this season

The start of this season was not great. Chelsea were lucky against Brighton & Hove Albion in their opener, they were bad in the first half against West Brom and then they conceded three against Southampton.

This season for Frank Lampard is all about improving on last campaign, and that ‘goals conceded’ tally last year was not good. Going forward they were a breath of fresh air at times; they looked so dangerous further up the pitch, but defensively Lampard always knew he had to improve to be able to get closer to Liverpool and Man City.

It’s not the year for Lampard and Chelsea to win the league. This is the season to close the gap on those two teams and work on his team ethics. He’s brought in a lot of good players and should aim to get them settled, bring in two more players next summer and challenge for the title next season.

But recently the team have been doing really well; they’ve only conceded one goal in six matches, which is title-winning form and Lampard needs to grow from that. It will only give him confidence in his team. If they can keep that clean sheet mentality then they have a huge chance of doing something special in the next two years.

He must keep the team in the top four. He did it last year, when I didn’t think he could do it. This year he must make the Champions League again. If he can win a domestic cup, great. If he can go far in the Champions League, even better. You want to win a domestic cup just to get that mentality into the players.

Chelsea’s aim this season should be to get a lot closer to Liverpool and Man City. If he can close the gap to less than 10 points off both clubs by the end of the season then I think he’s done a magnificent job.

I knew of Hakim Ziyech from Ajax – I knew he was going to be somebody that would come in and embrace the challenge. He was never going to be afraid of the Premier League. Ziyech will provide so much for his teammates, and in particular the strikers. Kai Havertz is definitely a talent. I like the Timo Werner signing because he’s just a goal machine. Chelsea needed that.

Ziyech - Chelsea

Can Ziyech help the Blues to another title?

They needed a ‘killer’ goalscorer because they created a lot of chances last season but didn’t have a clinical player there to take them. They need someone who isn’t happy if the team win but they haven’t scored – and I think that’s what they have in Werner. Of course he’s happy for the team, but that mentality is good to have in a striker; someone who isn’t satisfied when they haven’t scored.

But I think their most important signing’s is going to be Thiago Silva and the goalkeeper (Edouard Mendy). They are going to be such important players for that back five.

On where Chelsea could strengthen

I still think Chelsea need another centre-half. Thiago Silva has come in – but he’s 35 years-old. He’s probably got another year in him at best after this season, so you need someone to come in who will take over from him – but you then need another name who can play next to that person.

Chelsea almost signed Virgil van Dijk a few years ago – so why didn’t they? I don’t think anyone comes close to him in that position. He’s far and above every other central defender.

I know why he signed for Liverpool. I know that he spoke to Chelsea and there was talk of him coming to Chelsea, but he felt that Antonio Conte didn’t really do his best to sign him. And that is true because I heard from another player that Van Dijk was going to sign.

Jurgen Klopp really knocked him off his feet – he made him feel special, told him his plans and very much made Van Dijk know he was a part of those plans, and apparently Conte didn’t even bother talking to him that much.

If you have that quality as a manager that you can talk to great players and persuade them to join your club, it will save you a lot of money. If you don’t have to convince them with money and you can persuade them by making them feel a million dollars, then of course it’s a lot better. That’s something Arsenal have in Mikel Arteta.

On potential Chelsea signings

A lot of people are talking about Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly but he’s 29 years old and would be very expensive. I quite like Leicester defender Caglar Soyuncu. I think he’d be very good at Chelsea. Also Inter Milan’s Milan Skriniar is another very good player. So there are options out there, but it’s such a difficult position to fill right now.

I would also like to see another creative midfielder. I like Mason Mount, but maybe somebody to play alongside him. Havertz is there, I know, but you want healthy, quality competition in that area. I don’t think Chelsea are far off (from a title challenge) at all.

On Tammy Abraham

I haven’t seen a big improvement in Tammy Abraham this season at Chelsea. It looked really promising last year, but for me he hasn’t kicked on. It doesn’t matter that Lampard has brought in players – Abraham is still getting enough play time. I think he can improve his hold-up play significantly. Plus he needs to work on his movement when players are coming in from wide positions.

He’s making straight runs and there’s not enough sharp movement to take defenders out of position to create space for his teammates. He doesn’t do that enough, but if he did, I think he’d score a lot more goals.

On Kepa Arrizabalaga

It’s a big problem Chelsea have with Kepa. They have invested £70 million in him and we all know he’s not worth that amount of money. But you want to recoup as much of that investment as possible. You’re not going to recover it (the investment) if he doesn’t play.

I don’t think he can play in England. I think he’s quite fragile, so you have a problem as a club. But you also have a problem as his manager, because he’s your second goalkeeper – but your third goalkeeper is also better than him. You must hope somebody knocks on your door to come and get him. But everyone now knows he’s not wanted at Chelsea and that’s the problem you’ve got when you’re trying to sell him.

It puts even more pressure on Frank Lampard because the club cannot afford to bring in another goalkeeper who doesn’t do well.

They’ve brought in Edouard Mendy and decided not to use Kepa, for whatever reason, right or wrong. That investment is declining, so if suddenly the team start suffering and have a bad run of results, it’s going to cause even more problematic because you’ve got a £70m goalkeeper that you’re not playing.

When Chelsea are doing well, then Lampard’s OK. But must hope he gets a knock on the door from a club, maybe back from Spain that will sign him. You’re not going to get anywhere near £70m back for him though. It’s a difficult wage to get off the bill. For Kepa it’s a disaster as well because he’s young, he needs to play. But it’s more of a disaster for Chelsea because they’re the ones who spent the money.

Match Prediction Newcastle 1-2 Chelsea

“Chelsea haven’t had much joy at St James’ Park in recent years but I think they’ll sneak through this one with a win.”

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