Chelsea vs Crystal Palace: Will a loss to the Eagles push Lampard closer to the famed Abramovich axe?
There's no doubt Roman Abramovich will be keeping a keen eye on Frank Lampard and his men as they host Crystal Palace at Stamford Bridge on Sunday. It has not been the ideal start for Chelsea. They are placed seventh on the points table. They opened with a clinical 3-1 win against Brighton this season and lost 2-0 to defending champions, Liverpool. A 3-3 draw against West Brom followed. Their Europa League games blank Barnsley 6-0 only to be pummeled 5-4 by Tottenham Hotspur by penalty shootout their next game.
It's not a stretch to image Lampard will be feeling the heat. Especially when there's an owner in Abramovich who wears his heart on his sleeve. A loss on Sunday means Lampard might take one step closer to be seen off as the club's gaffer. The famed Abramovich axe has been a discussion point every time the Blues run into a dry patch and while it may be just three Premier League games in the season, there still will be that one thought at the back of Lampard's mind.
Chelsea supporters have a clear idea of the axe pattern. Abramovich's condition is simple: "Win. And Win immediately." This mantra led to Chelsea seeing multiple managers ever since his takeover. A quick look at the timeline shows Jose Mourinho leaving the team in 2007 to be replaced by Avram Grant. While the side ended runners-up and also made the Champions League final, he was sacked in 2008. Luiz Felipe Scolari took the reins only to be fired a year later.
Guddus Hiddink followed and Carlo Ancelotti took over. Ancelotti led Chelsea to their first league and FA Cup "double" in his first season as manager, but was sacked two seasons later. André Villas-Boa was his seventh manager, but a string of losses saw him ousted. Roberto Di Matteo, Former Liverpool boss Rafael Benítez were in and out as managers of the squad. Mourinho was back and so was Guddus only for the two to be replaced by Antonio Conte for a three-year deal.
There was a bit of a twist as Conte's successor left rather than being fired like his predecessors. And now there's Lampard who's managerial career has been a mixed bag this season. In 2019, his first game was against Manchester United which they lost 4-0 followed by another defeat to Liverpool in the 2019 UEFA Super Cup. However, it was a fourth-place finish for the Blues as they ended their last season with 20 wins, 12 losses and six draws.
Coming on the back of a draw against West Brom and a drubbing by the Spurs, the Blues wll be keen to get back to winning ways. A few changes can be expected this game with Edouard Mendy touted to don the gloves after impressing in their game against the Spurs despite the result. The Senegal international roped in to make up for an erratic Kepa Arrizabalaga had an outing that would see Lampard put him as one of the starters.
Mendy's save from Sergio Reguilon was one of the highlights of the game against the Spurs that also saw words of praise by Lampard. "I thought he was very good,’ said the gaffer postgame. "He made a couple of good saves. Came and caught a few balls. Very very pleased with every part of his game." In Mendy, the side have a tall goalkeeper better suited for League conditions as he fills the post and has the ability to anticipate crosses.
As they face a stern Crystal Palace challenge who're actually above the Blues in the standings with two wins and a loss, Lampard will be hoping to deliver or risk taking one step closer to meeting the same fate as his predecessors.
Crystal Palace vs Chelsea can be watched live on Peacock Premium. The game is slated to start 7:30 AM ET on Saturday, October 3, 2020.