Big-spending Blues wary of early title talk

Sports

Frank Lampard insists there is more to winning the Premier League than buying players as he played down Chelsea’s title chances ahead of their opener against Brighton and Hove Albion.

After a transfer ban last season, Lampard has been the division’s top-spending boss this term.

The Blues spent big fees on Hakim Ziyech, Timo Werner, Ben Chilwell and Kai Havertz, while Thiago Silva also arrived on a free.

Chelsea are still in the market for a goalkeeper, too, having opened negotiations with Rennes for Edouard Mendy, according to the French club.

But Lampard, while expecting improvement, knows better than to anticipate immediate success.

“I hope Chelsea fans are excited, because we’ve brought in a high level of player to improve our squad,” he said. “At the same time, I also know what it takes to win Premier Leagues.

“When you look at the teams that have dominated in recent years – your eye is drawn towards Liverpool and Manchester City – they are a story that has run over a few years. It”s at their own pace, in terms of recruitment, coaching, improvement on the training pitch. It’s not a simple story that bringing players will win the league.

“I hope we’ll improve; I know expectations will be there. I won’t hide away – my expectations this year are on a different level than last year because of the different situation. We want to improve, but we won’t jump too far ahead of ourselves.”

Ziyech is injured, while Chilwell and Silva are working towards full fitness, but Brighton have a clean bill of health.

Graham Potter said: “There’s a lot more to come from this squad. We have players that get you off your seat and we have to try to help that process of development.”

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Brighton and Hove Albion – Ben White

Brighton have themselves been busy in the transfer market, but their best piece of business might have been keeping White. The centre-back impressed on loan at Leeds United last season but then committed to the Seagulls and now looks set to be thrown in the deep end.

Chelsea – Timo Werner

One new boy who is likely to play is striker Werner. He needed just four minutes of a pre-season friendly against Brighton to get his first Chelsea goal and will hope to repeat the trick in his competitive debut on Monday.

KEY OPTA FACTS

– Chelsea have never lost against Brighton in the league, winning nine and drawing one. The Blues have faced Brighton more times without ever losing than they have against any other side in their league history.

– This is the third time Chelsea are starting a Premier League campaign on a Monday, with the Blues going on to win the title on the previous two occasions (2014-15 and 2016-17).

– Brighton have won just three of their 18 Premier League matches in 2020, the fewest of any ever-present side.

– Chelsea have earned 1997 points in Premier League history. Their next victory will see them become the third team to earn 2000 points in the competition, after Manchester United (2234) and Arsenal (2011).

– New signing Werner scored 28 league goals for RB Leipzig in the Bundesliga last season, the fourth-most in Europe’s top five leagues behind only Ciro Immobile (36), Robert Lewandowski (34) and Cristiano Ronaldo (31).

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