EPL

Talking Point: Would Rodgers have been a better choice for Chelsea than Lampard?

By Sports Desk January 29, 2020

Chelsea head to top-four rivals Leicester City on Saturday aiming to close the eight-point gap on the team directly above them in the Premier League.

Leicester have overperformed under Brendan Rodgers this season and are on course to play Champions League football next term for the second time in three years.

Finishing above the likes of Manchester United, Tottenham and Arsenal in fourth would also be considered an achievement for Chelsea, who are enduring a period of transition.

Hampered by a transfer ban at the start of his first campaign at the Stamford Bridge helm, Frank Lampard's charges have had a mixed time of things in 2019-20.

A run of just four wins in 12 top-flight outings has seen Chelsea's youngsters lose ground on Leicester and they are now left looking over their shoulder.

But would the Blues be any better off had they turned to former Celtic boss Rodgers instead of iconic midfielder Lampard? We take a closer look with the help of Opta data.

RODGERS FINDS THE RIGHT BALANCE

Leicester's style of play has caught the eye since Rodgers was named as Claude Puel's successor in February 2019, the Foxes combining a vibrant attack with a solid defence.

The east Midlands side have scored three or more goals in six league games this term, including 5-0 and 9-0 wins over Newcastle United and Southampton respectively.

Chelsea, by comparison, have done so five times, but just twice since October's international break.

Leicester put four goals past West Ham last week and have scored 11 more than Chelsea overall this season, with the division's top scorer Jamie Vardy responsible for 17 of those.

Vardy has regularly made the headlines but his scoring stats would not be as impressive if not for the creative licence Rodgers has given to those playing around him.

Harvey Barnes and James Maddison have earned lots of plaudits, while Ayoze Perez has been directly involved in 11 goals since arriving - all three players providing something different.

And while Tammy Abraham has stepped up this season by scoring 13 times, Lampard recently admitted to being concerned by his side's low xG - expected goals - this term.

A talented striker alone will only take you so far. It is about getting the most out of the players available to you and setting out your side accordingly, as Rodgers has achieved.

DEFENSIVE STATS STAND UP

Likewise, a good attack alone is not enough for sides with top-four aspirations, and Rodgers has managed to tighten Leicester up at the back despite the loss of Harry Maguire.

Leicester have conceded 24 goals in 24 matches this season compared to 30 at the same stage 12 months ago when languishing down in 11th place.

Chelsea have shipped nine goals more in 2019-20 and have just five clean sheets this season - the same amount as Brighton and Hove Albion and three fewer than Watford.

Keeping out the opposition has been far less of an issue for the Foxes, whose tally of eight shutouts - including four in a row at one stage - is bettered only by Liverpool's nine.

Chopping and changing centre-backs has not helped Lampard, whereas Rodgers has tended to stick with Caglar Soyuncu and Jonny Evans.

And if proof was needed of Rodgers' ability to get more out of players look no further than Soyuncu, who struggled for minutes last term but has been immense this season.

IS LEICESTER'S FORM SUSTAINABLE?

Many expected 2016 title winners Leicester to drop off the pace as the season went on, particularly having made it to the latter stages of the EFL Cup.

Successive losses to Southampton and Burnley earlier this month suggested the wheels were about to come off, but they responded with an emphatic 4-1 win against West Ham.

That, incidentally, is only the second time Leicester have lost back-to-back league matches under Rodgers in his 11 months at the King Power Stadium.

Chelsea lost four games in five matches in the closing stages of 2019 and, understandably given the youngsters in their ranks, have lacked consistency over the last two months.

Ultimately, Leicester can lose this weekend's clash with Chelsea and still hold a comfortable five-point advantage on their fourth-placed opponents.

That alone is not enough to suggest Rodgers, who spent time coaching in Chelsea's academy, should have been given the job over the inexperienced Lampard.

But if nothing else, the Ulsterman has proved on his return to the Premier League that he is more than capable of managing one of the division's elite clubs.

Related items

  • Coronavirus: Walker hopes Premier League season resumes, but says football must 'take a back step' Coronavirus: Walker hopes Premier League season resumes, but says football must 'take a back step'

    Manchester City defender Kyle Walker hopes the Premier League season can resume, but said "football has to take a back step for now".

    The campaign has been suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic, which has brought sport to a standstill around the world.

    It remains unclear when, and if, the Premier League campaign will resume, but Walker is hoping the season can get back underway.

    "Football has to take a back step for now because that is the least important thing on everyone's mind in the football world," the right-back said.

    "The health of family members and other people's family members is the most important.

    "But, I hope, and I am sure everybody else hopes, that football will come back and we will be able to finish off the season, but if it is not a possibility, then everyone does understand that people's health is more important than a game of sport."

    Walker discussed how City – who were second to Liverpool in the Premier League when the season was stopped – were keeping up team spirit using group chats.

    But the 29-year-old revealed manager Pep Guardiola, who donated €1million to the coronavirus fight in Spain, was not in the players' chat.

    "Obviously Pep is not in the group chat! I dropped him a text message last night saying hope you are OK, and I hope the family is well and fair play for donating the amount of money that you have donated," Walker said.

    "That says a lot about him as a person. Put football aside, that has come from his heart and it is something that should definitely be recognised."

  • Coronavirus: Hudson-Odoi feeling 'perfect' after COVID-19 recovery Coronavirus: Hudson-Odoi feeling 'perfect' after COVID-19 recovery

    Chelsea winger Callum Hudson-Odoi is feeling perfect after recovering from the coronavirus.

    Hudson-Odoi tested positive for the virus last month, one of the events alongside the diagnosis of Arsenal head coach Mikel Arteta that led to the Premier League going into shutdown.

    However, the 19-year-old only experienced minor symptoms.

    "I am feeling perfect," he told Chelsea's official website. "I had the virus, which has cleared now. I fully feel good, I feel fit, so I am feeling back to myself so it is all good.

    "I had it [the illness] three weeks ago now I think, on a Monday when I felt a bit hot and I was thinking this is a bit unusual, why do I feel this hot.

    "The next day I was feeling back to normal. I thought it was just a minor temperature thing, but obviously it wasn't. I said to myself this wasn't actually that bad, the symptoms, and I said to myself I feel good, I feel better.

    "Everything is happening so fast and I did not know this virus would be such a major thing and so big in the world and affect so many people.

    "Everyone has to be careful and judge things how they go and hopefully the virus will go soon and everyone will be back to normal."

    As part of football's response to the coronavirus pandemic, Euro 2020 has been pushed back 12 months – something of a motivating factor for England international Hudson-Odoi, who has struggled for form and fitness at times this season.

    "For me it is an opportunity to show again and keep pushing myself to the max to hopefully have an opportunity to go to the Euros," he added

    "The Euros is a massive thing and I have big belief in myself and hopefully I will be able to get into the team.

    "I just want to make sure that I keep pushing myself every game and every minute, making sure that I keep trying to score goals and make assists and keep trying to help the team as much as possible to get what we want, which is a trophy at the end of the day."

  • Coronavirus: PFA and Premier League discuss player wages Coronavirus: PFA and Premier League discuss player wages

    The Premier League and the Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) are discussing player wages as part of talks over how football in England should respond to the coronavirus pandemic.

    Representatives from the English Football League (EFL) and League Managers Association (LMA) were also involved at the summit, which will continue for the next two days.

    Premier League clubs Newcastle United, Tottenham, Norwich City and Bournemouth have placed members of non-playing staff on furlough, taking advantage of the UK government scheme in response to COVID-19 that will pay employees 80 per cent of their wages up to £2,500 per month.

    Bournemouth and Norwich said they would top up those salaries to ensure furloughed staff receive full pay, although Tottenham's decision to cut staff pay by 20 per cent across the board came in for criticism given the wage packets of head coach Jose Mourinho and his playing squad are set to go untouched at this stage.

    The resumption of the 2019-20 season and player safety was also on the agenda at Wednesday's meeting.

    A statement issued by the PFA read: "Senior representatives from the PFA, Premier League, EFL and LMA met today and shared a constructive meeting regarding the challenges facing the game as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

    "The meeting reiterated that the overriding priority is the health and well-being of the nation - including that of players, coaches, managers, club staff and supporters – and everyone agreed football must only return when it is safe and appropriate to do so.

    "No decisions were taken today with discussions set to continue in the next 48 hours with a focus on several high-profile matters, including player wages and the resumption of the 2019-20 season."

    Professional football in England is currently suspended until at least April 30, with the Football Association extending its June 1 deadline to complete the season indefinitely.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.