The Mount/Barkley battle
Both Mason Mount and Ross Barkley have impressed during Chelsea’s pre-season campaign in Japan, and it has given Frank Lampard something of a selection headache.
The preferred formation is looking like a 4-2-3-1 from the new head coach, which would mean that one player will get the chance to feature just behind the front man.
Mount started both the games in the Far East, while Barkley scored a stunning goal against Barcelona in the second match to put his name in the hat for a starting spot.
It’s a good headache for Lampard to have, which will be futhered intensified when Ruben Loftus-Cheek comes back from his serious injury.
At the moment, it seems that Mount has the edge in getting the starting spot when the Premier League starts, but Lampard has a couple of very good options now.
Emerson over Alonso
There are going to be some question marks over the full-back positions over the course of the campaign and the battle between Emerson Palmieri and Marcos Alonso is going to start up again.
However, so far there has only been one winner in pre-season and Emerson really stamped his authority on the role once again.
The Brazilian-born Italy international had an impressive 45 minutes against Barcelona, while Alonso didn’t really get into the game in Saitama.
Lampard is going to want his full-backs to play high up the pitch and get involved in the attacking play, which is certainly something Alonso can do.
However, Emerson’s recovery pace is something that gives him the edge and he is looking like he could get the nod for the beginning of the season.
The Jorginho/Kovacic axis works
The fact that N’Golo Kante had to head back to England due to injury was a real worry as the World Cup winner is going to be a huge part of Lampard’s plans.
However, with his absence it gave the head coach the chance to look at both Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic as the two midfielders in his 4-2-3-1 formation.
And to the relief of Lampard and Chelsea supporters, it was an axis that really looked like it could work for the Blues this season.
They complement each other in their play, while both have looked more comfortable next to each other and with another player in the middle of the park.
Kovacic has looked far better than he did last season, while Jorginho’s influence in the first goal against Barcelona was clear to see after his won the ball high up the pitch.
If Kante isn’t fit for the start of the Premier League campaign, then Kovacic and Jorginho have shown that they should be the starting central midfielders.
Big striker choice for Lampard
All three of Chelsea’s strikers are staking a claim to be the main man for Lampard this season and Tammy Abraham’s goal against Barcelona helped him get into Lampard’s mind for next season.
“Tammy, he’s a goalscorer and he’s hungry for goals,” Lampard said after the win against Barcelona. “That’s what I love about his attitude as he constantly wants to score and I saw that in the Championship last year.
“He’s proven that and now it’s his time to prove it for Chelsea. Confidence is big for goalscorers, so to get his goal will put him in good stead.
“Olivier Giroud came on and I thought he did very well as he showed his different styles and attributes that he brings. The same with Batshuayi.
“There’s competition and people keep talking a lot about it. They all need to rise to the competition and show they can be a striker for Chelsea. I’ve got full confidence in that.”
The competition to be the main striker is a healthy one, pushing each other on to be really put in some decent performances over the course of the campaign.
The intensity levels are up
The final match against Barcelona showed that Chelsea were certainly a lot further along than La Liga champions. That is fair enough, being the Blues’s fourth game of the summer and the Catalan club playing the first match of pre-season.
But that aside, Chelsea’s intensity levels were really up, especially for the first half, and the high intensity that Lampard wants from his players were being clearly shown.
That is really encouraging for the rest of the season and as the rest of the summer as it goes on.
Without the ball, Lampard wants his team to be pushing the opposition back, squeezing them in tight areas and winning the ball back in high positions.
With the fitness levels certainly at a good level right now, that could be achieveable in the opening game at Old Trafford.