Updated: Mar 11
The 2019/20 Premier League season is just a few days away and every Chelsea youngster should have Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” on repeat on their pregame playlist. The Detroit native raps, “You only get one shot. Do not miss your chance to blow. This opportunity comes once in a lifetime” which describes the situation at Stamford Bridge perfectly.
Beloved club legend Frank Lampard has taken over as manager and no new faces have joined the team due to the transfer ban. Together, those have created a unique set of circumstances at Stamford Bridge the youth players must take advantage of.
Lampard will undoubtedly rely heavily on the plethora of young talent in the squad this season and those who get the opportunity can't afford to squander it. Knowing Chelsea, this opportunity won’t present itself again.
For the upcoming season, Lampard has nearly zero expectations of him. If Chelsea play attractive football and finish in the top 4, he’ll be seen as a genius. If the Blues struggle, he’ll get a pass. It’s his first year at the club and he could not strengthen the squad in the summer. A perfect excuse....er....reason.
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Because of this, Lampard has a luxury most of his contemporaries don’t. He can manage without fear of getting the sack after a few bad games, something his predecessors could only dream of. Short of brandishing a gun at Cobham, Chelsea won’t fire Lampard for any reason this season.
The club has shown for over a decade they don’t tolerate mediocrity out of managers. Therefore, managers don’t have the patience needed to integrate and develop youth. It’s logical for a manager not to jeopardize his job by playing teenagers. With Lampard at the helm though, that isn’t an issue.
Thanks to that job security, Lampard can rely on the youth the club boasts. Even if they fail to adapt to the Premier League initially, Lampard can stick with them.
Another important reason the youngsters will have their chances is the transfer ban, as Chelsea could not bring in any new players. Plus, the club sold Eden Hazard, ended Gonzalo Higuain’s loan, and sent Alvaro Morata on loan again. The squad needs reinforcements and the only place to look is academy players and the army of loanees.
Combine everything together and it adds up to this unique opportunity, arguably once in a lifetime. The youngsters will get opportunities to prove their worth and break into the first team out of necessity.
This golden opportunity has presented itself and young players like Christian Pulisic, Tammy Abraham, Reece James, and others can't afford to pass it up or fail. This is their one shot where all the stars have aligned in their favor.
The main beneficiary will certainly be Pulisic. The American has already shown his quality when featuring for Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League in previous seasons. He recently stole the show for the Blues in a friendly against RB Salzburg scoring two and drawing a penalty.
However, there's an even bigger reason he'll get his shot. His massive price tag - $73 million. No club spends that amount of money on a player to sit.
Alongside Pulisic up front, forward Tammy Abraham looks set to fight for his place as the starting striker this season. He succeeded beyond all expectations on loan at Aston Villa last season in the Championship last season, so the Premier League is the next step in his progression.
The biggest sign he’ll have the chance to cement his place at striker though? He'll wear the #9 jersey. If Abraham wasn’t in line to at minimum compete for the starting role, he would not have the privilege of donning that number.
Another attacker to receive significant minutes under Lampard is academy product Callum Hudson-Odoi. He made huge strides last year in limited game time and should slot immediately into the XI when fit again.
Come January, Chelsea could have an attacking trio all 21 and under, something no one in the past 10 years could’ve ever predicted.
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In the midfield, highly touted Mason Mount and 21 year old Fikayo Tomori both played under Lampard at Derby County on loan last season. They may not start immediately. But they impressed enough to stay at Chelsea and fight for minutes this campaign, something not common place for youngsters in West London.
19 year old defender Reece James could also feature heavily under Lampard this season following an incredible loan last season. The London native earned Player of the Year honors at Wigan and worked his way up to captain the side in the second tier. Very impressive for a teenager.
Chelsea have loads of potential in their youth ranks who stand to benefit from this unique situation at the club. However, one thing to keep in mind is these are all hypotheticals. No matter how well these up and comers played in the past, it’s impossible to predict how they’ll fare this year.
Pulisic, Abraham, Hudson-Odoi, Mount, Tomori, and James could all get a few starts and crumble under the pressure. The Premier League could prove too difficult for them. They might not cope well with the intensity and level of England’s top flight. They could very well play themselves out of the starting XI.
Regardless, they will get their chances. They will each have plenty of opportunities to become mainstays in the Chelsea squad.
The unique circumstances converging at Stamford Bridge right now mean Lampard can and will count on the ample talented young players on the Blues’ books.
Lampard doesn’t need to win now like Sarri, Conte, Mourinho, Benitez, or any other manager before him. He doesn’t have that same pressure coming from the trigger happy board. It is a truly rare situation at Stamford Bridge.
And for all the youngsters, this is their “one shot, or one opportunity, to seize everything [they] ever wanted….[will they] capture it, or just let it slip?”