The English Premier League is just around the corner and teams are busy finalizing their preparations. While most clubs have managed to fulfill their transfer targets, this summer has turned out to be a little different for Chelsea.
Since they are under a transfer ban, Chelsea are busily finding the right players from their loan army and the academy. With Frank Lampard at the helm at Stamford Bridge, the focus has been to try and bridge the gap between the academy and the first team and give them a fair chance to prove themselves.
Chelsea's pre-season has been a constructive one. With every game, the Blues' football has improved. Their primary objective has been to implement the press fully and force the opponents into making mistakes. With only one loss this pre-season, Chelsea seem to be ready for the upcoming season.
Last night, Chelsea managed to beat Salzburg 5-3 in what was a brilliant match full of energy and goals. Here, we take a look at three things to take note of from this match.
Barkley is having the time of his life
Now, if there's one player who has redeemed himself under Lampard, it has to be Ross Barkley. He finally seems to be looking like the player that Chelsea paid a handsome amount for. The way he is running, the way he is taking on his markers and the way he is putting the ball through is magnificent. It is an absolute treat to watch him for any football fan.
Barkley was touted as "the next big thing" a few years back. However, things didn't turn out the way he would have liked. He got injured at a very crucial phase of his career and nearly lost a full season.
After returning from injury, last season was expected to be his breakthrough year. But he just didn't look confident enough and was often too cautious, seemingly afraid to look for chances. He was happy to play the ball sideways and not be aggressive enough. Soon enough, he lost his spot in the starting lineup and was often seen on the bench.
This pre-season has, however, brought his career back on track. Due to Ruben Loftus-Cheek's injury, Barkley has been entrusted with a lot more responsibility. Moreover, a double pivot at the base has given him the freedom to move forward.
In the game against Salzburg, Chelsea started with some loose balls and seemed to lack control. But as the game went on, the Blues grew into the game. Around the 20th-minute mark, Kepa Arrizabalaga caught the ball and put it into Barkley's path.
Barkley ran ahead with the ball and played a glorious pass across the field to Christian Pulisic; moments later, Pulisic finished it with ease. Later on in the game, Barkley was at the edge of the box and whipped the ball in. Pedro got close and finished it with an outrageous back-heel.
Barkley has been in red-hot form throughout the pre-season. It seems as if Lampard has breathed new life into him. It is important for the club that Barkley continues this form and keeps playing like this into the regular season. Next season, we might just end up seeing a shade of Lampard in a no.8 at Stamford Bridge.