Tammy Abraham silenced his critics by firing in a brace to lead Chelsea to their first victory of the season on Saturday afternoon. The youngster opened the scoring with a brilliant finish and then sprinted to the dugout to envelop manager Frank Lampard in a jubilant bear hug. It looked as though the Blues might have to settle for a point as Norwich twice came from behind to level the scores in a pulsating clash. But Abraham smashed home the winner in the 69th minute to hand his team a precious victory and reignite their fledgling season.
Lampard’s faith in youth was totally vindicated as Mason Mount also found the back of the net. It spared Kepa Arrizabalaga’s blushes after the Chelsea goalkeeper allowed a tame effort from Teemu Pukki to slip through his gloves in the first half. Lampard was full of praise for Abraham and Mount in his post-match press conference, particularly after Abraham was subjected to vile abuse online earlier this month. Chelsea can now approach the remainder of the season with a greater degree of confidence, and they should be able to mount a serious challenge for the top four if the defence tightens up.
Blues fans must accept that Chelsea cannot challenge for the title this season. Man City and Liverpool are currently streets ahead of their rivals and they will engage in another gripping two-horsed race in 2019/20. The football betting odds at highly rated sites like BetOnline show that they are huge underdogs to win the Premier League, but they showed on Saturday that they can fight Arsenal and Man Utd for a place in the top four.
The Gunners lost 3-1 to Liverpool at Anfield later that day, suggesting that their defensive frailties could cost them dearly once again. There is no great shame in losing to the Reds away from home, but Man Utd’s 2-1 defeat against Crystal Palace at Old Trafford was embarrassing. The Eagles came into the match in dreadful form and they were expected to suffer a total annihilation at the hands of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men. Yet Marcus Rashford and co were blunt in attack, and the Red Devils’ defence was abysmal.
Chelsea should not fear either side this season, as Man Utd and Arsenal will both drop plenty of points over the course of the campaign. Lampard simply needs to keep the faith in his young stars and work with the defence to ensure they do not give goals away so easily in future. That will be his biggest cause for concern right now. Chelsea have shipped seven goals in three games so far this season, and they need to be far better organised at the back. Kepa is not currently inspiring much confidence in his centre-backs, and Lampard might consider giving Willy Cabellero a run in the team.
But Chelsea should be exciting going forwards. Lampard left World Cup winner Olivier Giroud on the bench on Saturday and his faith in Abraham was rewarded as the youngster scored two brilliant goals and ran Norwich ragged with his pace, movement and dynamism in and around the box. Willian was also denied a starting berth, as Lampard when with three young players in Mount, Christian Pulisic and Ross Barkley. They were full of invention at Carrow Road and Chelsea’s winning margin could perhaps have been greater.
Doom and gloom abounded after that 4-0 defeat at Old Trafford on the opening day of the season, but they are unbeaten since then. The Blues look as though they could have a fantastic blend of youth and experience, with the likes of N’Golo Kante, Jorginho and Cesar Azpilicueta providing a steadying influence alongside the precocious talents of Abraham, Mount and Pulisic.
If Chelsea can manage to scrape fourth place this season, it would be a massive achievement considering their inability to sign players this summer. They could then go out and spend £200 million next year and bring in some world-class talent to play alongside Mount and Abraham, who will have a full year of Premier League experience under their belts. The Blues could then realistically go on and win the title in 2020/21, and their fans should be full of optimism right now.