Frank Lampard never had to worry too much about goals during his time as a Chelsea player, but as the club’s head coach there are already signs they might be an issue.
This is not a problem of Lampard’s making, as Chelsea were the lowest scorers in the Premier League’s top six last season. And Eden Hazard, Chelsea’s most prolific player, was sold before he succeeded Maurizio Sarri.
Add the transfer ban and injuries to Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who was Chelsea’s third highest scorer in the league with six goals, and Callum Hudson-Odoi, and Lampard has started this season short on firepower.
That has certainly been evident in the first two Premier League games, in which Chelsea have paid the price for not taking their chances. Lampard saw his team start encouragingly at Old Trafford and react well to going behind, only to lose 4-0. And Chelsea’s record scorer believed his team should have been out of sight before Leicester City equalised last weekend and then threatened to win the game.
Ahead of Saturday’s trip to newly promoted Norwich City, only Mason Mount has scored in the league so far, with Olivier Giroud and Tammy Abraham yet to grasp the chance of becoming Lampard’s first-choice striker.
Michy Batshuayi, who was not among the substitutes at Old Trafford or Stamford Bridge, staked his claim with two goals for Chelsea Under-23s in front of Lampard at Stamford Bridge in midweek.
But Lampard recognises that Chelsea’s best hope of replacing Hazard’s goals and trying to keep up with their rivals will be to share them around, rather than hoping for one man to come to the fore.
“We will have to find it [the goals] among the group,” Lampard said. “I know the stats and I know how many goals Eden Hazard was part of in terms of scoring and assisting. So they are facts and ones we have to try to address with work, which means can we score goals from other areas of the pitch? Can we be more clinical up front?
“The challenge is clear for the strikers and the attacking players. Can you be the players to score those goals? Because, I agree, the top teams in the league tend to have players who are scoring regularly, who do win games that are tight, who do make you clear in games in good periods, that you score enough goals to put the game to bed. And that’s a challenge for us because it’s something we aren’t doing and we need to do.”
Liverpool duo Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah shared last season’s golden boot with Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, while Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero was just one goal back and Tottenham Hotspur’s Harry Kane finished with 17 league goals, level with Raheem Sterling.
Manchester United pair, Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford, have both been on target this season.
Lampard, though, reiterated the fact the responsibility to score goals will rest on the shoulders of a number of his Chelsea players this season, rather than one or two men.
He also dismissed any suggestion that his squad are yet to work out how to make the breakthrough in games without Hazard.
“Every team is its own entity and it doesn’t have to be one way to win a game or to score a goal,” said Lampard, who is sweating on the fitness of midfielder N’Golo Kante, who missed training this week with a sprained ankle.
“We obviously have to score from different areas of the pitch and that’s pretty clear. We need to score more goals at this moment, for sure. That’s work for the squad.
“The Eden thing, we all know the reliance in terms of his output was huge and he is in the top bracket of attacking players in world football, so you have to accept that. But there is enough quality in this team to win games for sure without Eden. He’s not here now, so it’s the end of that story.”