ESPN pundit Steve Nicol is backing Chelsea to finish in the top four this season as he has seen some promising signs of improvement in their defending over the past few weeks.
The Blues have the fourth-worst defensive record in the Premier League currently but the former Liverpool full-back says that Frank Lampard has slowly been getting to grips with their issues at the back:
“The difference with Chelsea is the defending. Frank has really done a good job defensively. The first four games they conceded nine goals and scored four, the next four they scored 12 and lost four [goals], that’s the way it should be.”
“That tells you Frank is making changes that are making a difference. If Frank keeps doing what he’s doing now, keeps it tight at the back – especially Tomori – and keeps scoring goals, they’ll finish in the top four.”
It is a surprising explanation but there are certainly reasons to be optimistic about Chelsea’s defensive problems. They kept their first clean sheet of the season against Brighton at the back end of last month, while the emergence of Fikayo Tomori has helped improve the backline.
With Antonio Rudiger tipped to return after the international break as well, Blues fans will be hoping for a few more shutouts. If Chelsea can do that, combined with their vibrant attacking play, Nicol’s prediction doesn’t seem far off the mark.