One solution which has been explored involves moving Havertz into a deeper role, to ensure the Blues can continue to find a place for their big-money signing without having to sideline an in-form attacker. But what would this mean for the team’s balance? And who would it affect the most?
A deeper role for Havertz would, one imagines, see him in a 4-3-3 set-up rather than as one of two deeper-lying midfielders in a 4-2-3-1. To do so would be to actively sabotage the attacking qualities of a man who didn’t just set the club back a huge amount of money, but who scored freely from an attacking midfield role during his time with Bayer Leverkusen.
THIAGO SILVA FIT, HOPEFUL OVER KEPA – CHELSEA TEAM NEWS
One might anticipate Lampard using the German in a similar manner to Ross Barkley’s role last season, when the England international featured in a three with any combination of Kovacic, Kante, Jorginho and Mount.
The Barkley-Kovacic substitution (or the reverse) was a regular feature last season and the season before, suggesting the Croatian might be the one to suffer the most – especially considering the fact that he has just 132 Premier League minutes under his belt this season – but things might not be quite so straightforward
By dropping Havertz into a deeper role, Lampard would have the freedom to approach games against less possession-focused opponents with both him and Jorginho able to supply those further forward, but matches against teams who expect to see more of the ball could require further protection.
This rings especially true for as long as Thiago Silva starts at centre-back alongside a partner who might not necessarily be the most mobile.
Few are naive enough to believe Havertz would be an instant shielding force for the centre-backs, so Lampard’s preference may be for two ball-winners – with less focus on distribution – alongside the former Leverkusen man.
Such an approach would suggest Kante would become the most important man in a three-man midfield which also includes Havertz, but it’s also enough to make us wonder how much the Blues’ protracted pursuit of Declan Rice comes in part through the ability it would give Lampard to develop a ‘Havertz plus two’ set-up.
For now, at least, the presence of Havertz in a deeper role just represents an additional option as Lampard attempts to settle on how best to use a squad which has morphed quite a bit from the one he inherited last season.
In one sense, the transfer ban last term allowed the Chelsea boss to focus on using the resources he had, while now there may be – in his mind at least – more pressure to find roles for the men who he has brought to the club at great cost to the ownership.
As with any experimentation, there will be weeks when it works and weeks in which it does not, and it may be that any decision to move Havertz into a deeper role ends up being a short-lived one.
However, depending on how things pan out, none of the current crop can consider themselves more or less secure in their position if that ends up being the approach taken by the manager.
For now, it needs to simply be interpreted as a good problem to have. At least until it begins to bring new questions for Lampard and his squad.