CHELSEA (H); THE ACN PREVIEW

23/08/19

Chelsea roll into the Fine City this Saturday and are still without a win? Along Come Norwich? Hopefully not. Jon Punt spoke to Alexandra Churchill from Chelsea fansite ‘Girls Who Like Balls’ to get the lowdown…..

Jon: Are we still calling you lot 'Frank Lampard's Chelsea' then? On the face of things, appointing a manager with a year's experience of around par performances in the Championship doesn't appear wise. Tell me I'm wrong, and why.......

Alexandra: We’ll just stick with Chelsea, thanks. We’ve got enough Johnny-come-lately fans shitting themselves and calling for his head after two games, let’s not send them over the edge. We’ve been moaning (we like a moan at Stamford Bridge) about wanting to establish something at the club for years, to stop with the manager turnover and even for an English manager.

The club have given us those things. I think Lampard’s full of ideas. Sarri has Plan A. Plan B was basically light a fag and hope. It was turgid. It’ll take him a while to get going, but arguably the team he’s got around him is a more exciting prospect than Frank at the moment. They know the club, know our young players and I think they’re ready for a shot at the big time together. Any sensible fan is excited right now, but ready to write this season off as they get up to speed. You can’t ask for more than that with the transfer ban anyway.

The transfer ban certainly helps Lampard’s case, as does his connection and history with the club. We’ve kind of been through the same a few years back though, club hall of famer Neil Adams took the helm and it didn’t go well. When you’re not winning games, and fans are super used to winning games, it can go sour quickly.

I’m guessing the level of expectation might be tempered slightly given you’ll be playing the youngsters but if it goes pear shaped and there's no real progression, does he really have the season? I only ask because, well, your owner doesn’t strike me as the patient type.

I’m as sure as I have ever been about a manager that Lampard has the season. It would be harsh to cut anyone loose given the constraints they are working under, but if the club were to do it to a legend?

The relationship with the fans has been testy to say the least over the past few seasons and they’ve improved it. This was a huge gesture on their part. I’m tempted to say that there is no way they could be THAT oblivious, but, well, it’s Chelsea.

Haha, you guys always seem to flit between the sublime and the ridiculous. At the very least it provides a bit of theatre.

Having seen Frank Lampard's Derby County TM at close quarters in the Championship, he seemed to favour a possession based style with a high press when it suited. Is that the same kind of fare you're expecting this year from Super Frankie Lampard's Chelsea TM?

Haha. Just “Chelsea” remember!

Yes, we live to entertain the rest of the football world with our nonsense. Yes, to put it simply, that’s the style we expect, though he already learned a valuable lesson about how that might pan out at Old Trafford if you naively stick to it in the Premier League. It’s a punishing environment.

He got the message though, because 48 hours later in Istanbul they were far more measured about the high press against Those Poor Little More-Tired-Than-Everyone-Else Scousers TM. We keep squandering possession at the moment, which dooms this approach to failure and that is what is letting teams in. Perhaps we need to slow down the frantic speed in favour of accuracy while the players bed in together. He’s only been back a few weeks, after all. Against Leicester both sides looked like descendants of the Chuckle Brothers at times, the way they kept gifting each other the ball.

This bodes well for Norwich, even though our record against Chelsea is patchy as hell (unless we hark back to the days of Dave Beasant gifting us a goal or two at Stamford Bridge.)

We’ll look to intelligently press in areas where turnover could yield maximum results and before the opposition have become settled. Then we might sit off a bit and try and counter at pace with fast interchanging when we win the ball back.

Usually sitting off against a side of your stature would petrify me, but with the loss of Hazard I’m slightly less frightened. Who is likely to be your biggest threat in this new era? I was hugely impressed with Mason Mount last season (shall we call him Super Frankie Lampard 2.0 TM?) and I haven’t seen much of Pulisic yet – will they be pulling the strings?

You should approach us like people did the Scouse when Klippity Klopp the Scarecrow first arrived. They blew out of the blocks and tried to score a couple straight off. If you can survive the first onslaught, say for 20 minutes then things start to settle down.

Mason has about three songs already, and looks like the real deal. Not only that, but for the first time in a long while we have someone who can take a corner and clear the first man. Pulisic is settling quickly too. Pedro for the first hour of any game is a nightmare I would imagine. He’s started the season well and the Kante Twins are back up to speed, if you’re not paying attention to those two, they will make you pay.

Ouch, well we'll try and be careful then. Going back to the season as a whole and the expectation, what constitutes success for Chelsea?

For me, if we can hold our own and stay level with the likes of United and Arsenal, that will constitute quite an achievement when they’ve been out and spent money this summer. A long run in one of the domestic cups would be nice, and as for Champions League, providing we don’t get a group of death it would be great if we were still in it come February. We really do have to accept that in terms of our usual expectations, this season will most likely be a write off. Many have nodded their heads at that, but as soon as we’ve lost a game they’ve gone into meltdown. They need to marry the concept with the reality.

Talking of reality, let's have your really specific but realistic prediction for tomorrow. I'm going 2-2, Giroud to open the scoring on the seventh minute with a flick off his arse, before Mount puts you two ahead before the break. Man of the moment Teemu Pukki breaks your hearts after your tire though, with a late brace (both deflected for double the pain).

You?

I’ll go 1-2 Chelsea so I don’t get lynched. We go ahead with a Pedro goal, before Pukki, the man with the best name in football, equalises because of some catastrophic error at the back. Then I’m going to go for much maligned Zouma to atone by rising like a salmon to get on the end of a Mason Mount corner and nod it home with seconds left to play. That way we get three points but will still have plenty to moan about. Which always makes us happy in West London.

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