How will Chelsea’s latest injuries impact on their January?

Chelsea have been handed the bad news that experienced duo Frank Lampard and Branislav Ivanović will spend the next month on the treatment table after picking up injuries.

After a frantic festive season, José Mourinho’s side sit third on the Premier League table but have critical fixtures against Hull, Manchester United and West Ham over the expected period that the pair will be missing.

Given the squad at the Portuguese coach’s disposal, the transfer window opening and the influence of the absent duo, what is in store for the west London side?

Ivanović is arguably the Blues’ most complete and versatile defender, and losing his experience and uncompromising approach will certainly be a blow. Although able to play anywhere across the back four, Mourinho has deployed the no-nonsense Serb as his first-choice right-back this season.

Without Ivanović, César Azpilicueta is the obvious replacement and will switch across to his natural side after a prolonged period at left-back. This will allow Ashley Cole to reclaim his starting berth on the opposite flank, in a move that shouldn’t weaken Chelsea too much.

However, with the fixtures coming thick and fast, another injury at the back would see Mourinho’s usually comprehensive squad down to the bare bones in defence.

Frank LampardDespite turning 35 last June, Frank Lampard’s influence in the Chelsea squad cannot be understated. The England international holds as much importance to the title-chasers as plenty of the multi-million pound transfer signings at the former Real Madrid coach’s disposal.

The centre of midfield is arguably Chelsea’s weakest position on the pitch, with fewer options than anywhere else in the squad. Lampard has been partnered with Ramires on more occasions than not, with John Obi Mikel lacking the thrust of other options and the remaining central midfielders not inspiring overarching confidence.

In the recent 0-0 draw against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium, veteran Lampard was arguably the best player on the pitch. Despite coming up against in-form Aaron Ramsey and the amount of attacking talent on both sides, it was the Englishman that came closest to breaching the deadlock, and he put in an assured performance.

Lampard’s unavailability could actually work in Chelsea’s favour though, as it may well persuade the west London club to bolster their options in the boiler room. Internazionale’s Fredy Guarín is a name repeatedly linked with a switch to Stamford Bridge, and a move for someone of the Colombian’s ilk is needed for the Blues to keep up their title challenge, not just for the four weeks that Lampard is on the sidelines.

Although the number of homegrown players in the Premier League has diminished in recent years, most of the Premier League ‘s top teams have an English or British core that complements foreign imports.

With talisman Lampard on the mend, additional emphasis will be placed on Chelsea captain John Terry to lead the side by example. The 35-year-old’s ability to consistently hit the back of the net will also be missed, with Lampard scoring six goals this term – others will need to pick up the burden over the next month in a team that is not scoring as regularly as their coach or fanbase would wish.

With the second half of the season underway, Chelsea will need to adapt to life without two of their longest serving and most influential players. Their success or failure to do so could have a major bearing on the chances of winning domestic silverware.

By
I am a freelance football journalist from Northern Ireland living in Broome in Western Australia. I have worked for top media outlets such as FourFourTwo, goal.com, Soccerlens, Football Fancast and Here is the City. I am a lifelong and long-suffering Tottenham fan. Follow me on Twitter at @90MinsOnline
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