There is new hope, enthusiasm and anticipation about proceedings at Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur. The Blues over-achieved in Frank Lampard’s first season and their new signings make Chelsea hot property for next season. The Gunners believe that they have a tactical genius in Mikel Arteta, who has also impressed with his man-management skills. Tottenham hired Jose Mourinho on November 20, 2019, and the Portuguese has stabilised things by securing a Europa League berth for next season.
So, this got us thinking about the next season. We will discuss the current squads, tactical abilities of the three coaches and predict where each club will finish in the premier league next season.
Mikel Arteta has been the much needed cultural change at Arsenal. He has brought clarity and purpose in their football as well as accountability, joy and professionalism behind the scenes. The rookie coach has proved to be a mixture between Arsene Wenger and Pep Guardiola. Arsenal’s tactics make them tough to beat and easy on the eye. Arteta has used man-management skills to get the best out of outcasts like Granit Xhaka.
Arsene Wenger often spoke about the “Mental block” his players had in matches against top teams. As a matter of fact, Arsenal haven’t won an away game against a top-six Premier League opposition since January 2015. Arteta has spoken about player accountability and his proactive tactical approach hint that things will be different at Arsenal next season.
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Frank Lampard and Chelsea were not given much hope at the beginning of the season due to their lack of experience and the transfer ban. Additionally, Chelsea lost Eden Hazard, who had been their best player in recent years. This was Lampard’s first season as the head coach in the Premier League and only his second year as a coach. The 4-0 opening matchday loss against Manchester United did not help the Blues either. However, if you analyse that game and Chelsea’s football throughout the season, then the signs are positive. Lampard’s team play possession-based, attacking football and they are not afraid to go toe-to-toe with the very best teams in Europe.
Lampard’s team has registered wins against Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool, Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City, Erik Ten Hag’s Ajax, thumped Carlo Ancelotti’s Everton. Furthermore, the Englishman became the first manager to do a league double over Jose Mourinho. Many pundits had predicted a tough season for the Blues. Instead, for the first time in Roman Abramovich’s time as owner, Chelsea seem to be building for long term success and stability.
If we analyse the head to head between all three London coaches, then Frank Lampard has a clear advantage. The Chelsea manager has two wins over Jose Mourinho as well as a win and a draw vs Mikel Arteta in 2019/20. Jose Mourinho defeated Arteta’s Arsenal in the North London derby meaning that the Gunners coach is yet to beat his London rivals.
In terms of points gained this season. Since Mikel Arteta’s appointment at Arsenal on December 20, Lampard’s Chelsea (37 points) did a bit better than their city rivals. Arsenal and Tottenham secured 33 points each in this time frame. Among the three coaches, Mikel Arteta (55.55%) and Lampard (54.71%) have the better winning percentage as compared to Mourinho (45.71%) in all competitions this season.
In terms of CV and overall pedigree, Jose Mourinho is far superior to the two young coaches. But, has the Spurs coach allowed the game to pass him by, is his pragmatic style outdated?. Mourinho’s loyalists will point to the trophy collection and longevity of the Portuguese coach but let’s take a more in-depth look at Tottenham’s results. Spurs were eliminated from the Champions League round of 16 stage after a 4-0 aggregate loss against Julian Nagelsmann’s RB Leipzig.
The scoreline suggests complete dominance for the Bundesliga club. Having watched both legs of this tie, Tottenham were fortunate to escape an even more significant embarrassment. Mourinho’s team twice needed a replay in the FA cup to get past Middlesbrough and Southampton. They were eliminated from the oldest competition in the world by bottom-of-the-league, Norwich City. Having said that, Mourinho’s team have had terrible luck with injuries. Tottenham’s key players like Heung-Min Son, Harry Kane and Dele Alli have missed multiple games due to injuries.
Mourinho’s team did win 2-1 against Manchester City and Arsenal as well as the 1-1 draw against Manchester United. Impressive results but if you analyse these matches, you will see defensive lapses from the opposition that helped Tottenham. This season, Spurs averaged the fewest attempts on target since Opta started keeping stats. No one is trying to bash Jose Mourinho here. His style works – just look at his medal collection – and he took Spurs to 6th from 11th in the league despite losing Christian Eriksen to Inter Milan.
However, these numbers and contrasting games such as the 0-0 draw with Bournemouth and win vs Manchester City point towards an interesting future for Tottenham. To be a top team in Europe, Spurs must add creativity, and Mourinho must release the hand breaks.
Time to highlight the weaknesses of the respective squads and to identify solutions. Additionally, we will predict where these three London clubs will finish in the premier league next season.
Signings of Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech are pieces of great business from Chelsea. The sensational Kai Havertz is being heavily linked as well, but it’s is glaring that Lampard must fix the defense. The Blues have conceded 54 goals in the league, which is the most among the top eight Premier League teams this season. Interesting fact: Chelsea conceded just 15 goals on their way to winning the league in the 2004/05 season. Frank Lampard played in that team, which was coached by Tottenham’s Jose Mourinho.
Central defense is an obvious issue with Kurt Zouma and Andreas Christensen making multiple mistakes. Antonio Rudiger has made several uncharacteristic errors, and N’golo Kante has had his worst Premier League season because of various injuries. In my opinion, Chelsea should call off the attempt to sign Kai Havertz and spend the money on their defense. If they have the cash to fix the defense and still sign Havertz, then it’s the best outcome, but the back four and goalkeeper must be the priority.
Lampard wants to implement possession-based attacking football, with high full-backs and plenty of bodies in the opposition penalty box. Theoretically, there is nothing wrong with this approach as Chelsea have registered exactly 100 goals in all competitions this season. But this style of play requires centre backs who can break up play and defend against fast transitions. The Blues also need a midfielder to cover the full-backs or even make tactical fouls. With Kante suffering from injuries, the Blues have conceded the third-highest goals on defensive transitions this season, behind West Ham and Manchester City.
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Chelsea can look at the current Premier League champions for solutions. Lampard’s philosophy is very similar to Jurgen Klopp’s football, but Liverpool have Virgil Van Dijk in defense and Alisson in goal. Chelsea should also spend big on a centre-back and a goalkeeper. It’s been evident that the Blues have lacked a leader at the back. Kolidou Koulibaly is the perfect option for Frank Lampard’s team. With Napoli missing out on Champions League football next season, they can even get the Senegalese for a reasonable price.
Recce James and Marcos Alonso have impressed in patches. Both have looked strong going forward, but they must improve their defensive game. Leicester City’s Ben Chilwell and Ajax’s Nicolas Tagliafico are heavily linked with a move to London. Lampard already has an abundance of attacking talent at his disposal, and as amazing as Havertz is, Chelsea should be focused on improving their defense. Kepa Arrizabalaga has created more questions than solutions this season. It was fascinating that Kepa was benched against Wolves, in what was a must-win, season-defining game for Chelsea.
Jose Mourinho is a master of organised defenses, and I expect Spurs to improve their defensive record next season. Spurs have conceded 46 goals in 35 games under Mourinho. Tottenham are unlikely to spend big during the off-season, but they should try to find replacements for their full-backs. Serge Aurier has made multiple errors this season, and his overall defensive concentration has been questionable since his Paris Saint-Germain days. Spurs have given contract extensions to Eric Dier and Japhet Tanganga. We are expecting very little transfer activity from Tottenham.
Even after a rollercoaster season, it is clear that Jose Mourinho has a lot of quality in his squad. From Harry Kane, Heung-Min Son, Bergwijn, Lucas Moura, Erik Lamela to midfield options such as Dele Alli, Lo Celso, Sissoko, Harry winks and Oliver Skipp, Tottenham have an incredible amount of talent. After all, this squad reached the Champions League final last season and consistently finished in the top four. Jose Mourinho must find the right balance for next season. The Portuguese favoured the 4-2-3-1 at the beginning of his tenure but injuries to Kane, Dele Alli and Son have restricted Mourinho. With a whole month to prepare for next season, Tottenham’s coach should have time to drill his ideas in the squad.
Mikel Arteta doesn’t have the luxuries that his counterparts possess. The Spaniard doesn’t have owners who will be willing to spend hundreds of millions on signings like Roman Abramovich. Nor does he have a balanced, deep squad like Tottenham. David Luiz had a sublime performance against Manchester City in the FA Cup semifinal, but the Brazilian also broke the Premier League record for most penalties conceded in a season (5).
To win the league or even finish in Champions League places, the Gunners must improve their defense. Their defensive issues are not down to the tactics. It’s a personnel problem. Unless the personnel are changed, we will see these lapses next season. Arsenal have a lot of good players who are not necessarily great players. Great players consistently perform, whereas good players will have a few great games along with multiple average performances.
We can use Alexandre Lacazette as an example. The Frenchman has scored just 12 goals in all competitions this season, even though he always plays through the middle. In contrast, Aubameyang registered 27 goals, even when he was pushed wide to accommodate Lacazette. The Frenchman was a favourite for Unai Emery, and Arteta has stuck with him too, but if Arsenal are to fight for the league, they need another consistent forward.
Arteta’s team was a bit too hot and cold this season. After beating Manchester City and Liverpool, they lost to Aston Villa, where the Gunners didn’t even register a shot on target. Despite calls from the fans to get rid of players like David Luiz, Shkodran Mustafi, Sead Kolasinac and Lacazette, Arteta considers them a big part of the future. Arsenal not qualifying for any European football might be a blessing in disguise. Arteta will have an opportunity to work on fitness in the off-season.
Additionally, the decrease in the fixture list, due to no European football, may help the Gunners to focus on the league. But that could change if they win the FA Cup on Saturday. Europa League football could bring another set of challenges that Arteta will need to deal with.
Prediction for next season
Chelsea: Lampard’s team will be one of the most entertaining sides to watch in all of Europe next season. They will challenge Manchester City and Liverpool for the Premier League title, only if significant investments are made on their defense. Expect fireworks from the likes of Pulisic, Ziyech and Timo Werner next season.
Tottenham: We don’t expect Jose Mourinho’s side to make a push for the league. They will be challenging for Champions League places and perhaps a Europa League title. Mourinho has won the Europa League on both occasions he entered the competition.
Arsenal: We expect Arteta’s team to push for Champions League places and even make a deep run in domestic cup competitions. But, to quote the brilliant Roy Keane here, “I’d be shocked if they are anywhere near the top (of the league) next season”.
Written by Hammad Pervez
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