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#PLStories – #GaryNeville says what Premier League Museum had predicted in season preview, Chelsea will struggle this season #ChelseaFC

Frank Lampard

Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville has already had plenty to say about Chelsea so far this season. Chelsea have had a mixed start to the Premier League season, winning two of their opening four fixtures – though there have been difficulties in the loss against Liverpool and the draw against West Brom. However, there was also a penalty shootout defeat against Jose Mourinho’s Spurs side in the Carabao Cup that will be an unpleasant memory for a little while yet. Former Manchester United captain Neville has watched a fair bit of Chelsea over the opening couple of months.

Gary Neville said “I don’t think [Lampard] is [happy with Kepa]. I wouldn’t be, but, yet I know full well, having been in a coaching position, been in a changing room, you have to back your goalkeeper. You must back your players, you have to support them publicly but privately that goal, it’s a really poor goal to give away. He conceded so many goals from outside the box last season, he’s conceded another one tonight [against Brighton] and it will cost you. If you don’t have a top goalkeeper, you won’t win that league. At this moment in time he makes far too many mistakes. He lets too many goals into the back of his net that should be saved. 19 goals conceded from outside the box – that is a sorry story for a £70m goalkeeper. A few years ago, I used to be quite critical of Loris Karius and Simon Mignolet. 50 goals a season, but as soon as Alisson came everything became normal. It was the same at Manchester United in my time when we had that period between Peter Schmeichel and Edwin van der Sar. As soon as Van der Sar came, it became normal. Same with Manchester City in Pep Guardiola’s first season. Claudio Bravo kept letting goals in from everywhere and the save-to-shots ratio was poor. As soon as Ederson comes in, everything becomes really normal. If you don’t have your goalkeeper right you are going to massively struggle to get where you need to get to. You certainly will never win a league. You will not win a league with a goalkeeper who is letting goals in from outside his box, doesn’t dominate his area and concedes goals from set-pieces. It isn’t going to happen. It’s a stark warning. Frank Lampard knows this. He’s played in championship-winning teams, he knows what he needs to do, he doesn’t like the goalkeeper, he wants him out and he’s going to bring a new one in because he knows Frank Lampard will be sacked as a manager if he doesn’t win the league in the next two or three years. He’s spent £200m so he’s got to do it. Pep did it, Jurgen Klopp did it and Sir Alex Ferguson did it. Every manager of any salt will be harsh. He’s got to be ruthless and do it for himself because that £70m, he wants to look after the club’s money, he wants to try and get it back, but unfortunately, it’s gone. Kepa, well, we know his fate. There’s no point deliberating it any further.  It’s a real problem if you’ve got a goalkeeper making errors. The anxiety it creates in the team is really bad.” It felt like Chelsea had to change the way they play and their principles to compete.  When you change the way you play it’s an acceptance that you are not good enough. You are telling your players. Sometimes players buy into it but if it goes wrong, it can damage them a little bit. I’m not saying Frank was wrong, he was trying to do it a different way. They were really passive and it’s a performance that wouldn’t have been allowed in a stadium full of fans.” Again, it’s an unknown. 35 [years old], 36 next week, played in the French league now for a number of years.  The intensity in the French league is nothing like our league. That’s not to say Paris Saint-Germain are not a great team, they just got to the Champions League final, but you’re talking about the Premier League. Particularly the intensity of this Premier League season, it’s compact. It’ll be a massive challenge for him in terms of the amount of games, the speed of football compared to what he’s been used to. It’ll be a step up in that respect. Can he play in matches, can he play at this level? Of course he can, he’s a world class player. But at this stage in his career… again when you ask if Chelsea can win the league, it’s just a complete unknown. Will he adapt? What’s the goalkeeper going to be like? How are the forwards are going to adapt? There’s a lot of unknowns with Chelsea. But on the other side of that, massive excitement. I’m intrigued to see how this world class defender who’s played many years for Brazil, been a wonderful player for Paris Saint-Germain, is going to do in our league.”

Frank Lampard faces a difficult task in getting his new side to gel, but things are looking up for the Blues as they look to build on last season’s top four finish and FA Cup final defeat to Arsenal.The club’s transfer activity in the summer window was a success, with the likes of Timo Werner, Kai Havertz, Ben Chilwell and Thiago Silva among the big name entries to the squad, as well as keeper Edouard Mendy as the transfer window came towards a close.

English Premier League fan since 1992. Travel enthusiast, sports buff and blog writer with deep interest in watching sports - English premier league, American Football, Basketball, Tennis, Cricket.. you name it.. Firm believer in giving back to the community which gives you happiness and identity. My inspiration - “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” – Mother Teresa

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