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While everyone is voicing their fears over Chelsea ahead of next season, ESPN FC pundit Paul Mariner has revealed that the Chelsea team has excited him during the pre-season.
Pundit after pundit believes that Frank Lampard will struggle as Chelsea boss, and not many are tipping the Blues to finish in top four.
Mariner has revealed that he’s impressed with what he has seen with the Chelsea attack in pre-season, and has been particularly impressed with how much Ross Barkley has blossomed in the Chelsea midfield.
“With this system, when you look at the pace on the outside and the development of Barkley, he needs to keep him playing in the middle third. And he’s very good at doing that,” he told ESPN FC.
“When he gets in the box, he does know where the back of the net is. So his job description is very simple as far as this team’s concerned.
“When you look at what Frank’s putting together, Kepa is a more than capable goalkeeper. I like the back four.
“You’ve got Pedro off the bench, Pedro’s very unfortunate not to be in that side but [Callum] Hudson-Odoi if he continues with his progress, [Christian] Pulisic we’ve already seen with balls over the top he can get in and he can finish.
“And I think the development of Barkley, I saw him play at the Gillette Stadium a few months ago and I was pleasantly surprised, because I’ve not been a fan of Barkley at all.
“But I saw him, he was box-to-box, he was unselfish with his passing, he’s getting in the box and he’s scoring goals.
“The more and more I look at him in this pre-season, I just like what I’m seeing.
“I think Frank’s doing something with this kid. Whatever he’s said to him, there’s a definite improvement in Barkley.
“It’s good for England and it’s definitely good for Chelsea.
“I just think at the present moment, purely because of Kepa and the solid back four that they’ve got, and [N’Golo] Kante fit and healthy protecting in front, I think they’ll get fourth.”