FRANK LAMPARD made the No.8 shirt his own as a Chelsea player.
But we revealed this week how the Blues boss is giving his dressing room every reason to fear that number – Lamps is preparing to turn the lights out on EIGHT players’ Chelsea careers.
Here, SunSport runs the rule over why performances this season make Lampard right to dump the fateful eight.
Beginning with the No.1, it’s clear why he’s lost faith with keeper Kepa, replacing him with 38-year-old Chelsea Pensioner Willy Caballero.
Because at times this season Kepa Arrizabalaga has looked nothing like a £72m goalkeeper and more like a man in gloves.
And that shows up in his numbers.
Two things stand out about Arrizabalaga. First is that he is good with his feet. Second, that he is not very good with his hands.
By measuring the quality of the shooting chances a goalkeeper faces, we can calculate how many saves a keeper pulls off that he has no right to make.
Top-performing keepers like Alisson and Vicente Guaita are denying one goal every four games the opposition would normally be expected to score – Hugo Lloris manages one every other game.
Kepa on the other hand gives one to the opposition he ought to be saving – and every five games or so. That puts him 21st out of 22 keepers to have started at least 10 Premier League games this season.
The next one being rushed out the door is Kurt Zouma.
Like Arrizabalaga, there are two sides to him. He reads the game extremely well, both in the air and on the ground. But he also makes errors.
Zouma is one of the best central defenders in the Premier League at intercepting other teams’ passes. And there’s only one who’s got a better success rate in contested headers – Brighton’s 6ft 7ins centre half Dan Burn. (Obviously.)
But he does have a major fault – Zouma is a clumsy tackler, so Lampard seems to see him as a liability.
Looking at the full backs, Emerson and Marcos Alonso have both failed to win over Lampard.
They are quite similar – both are good going forward but neither of them is outstanding in defence.
Chelsea are well stocked in midfield. Although Jorginho and Ross Barkley are different players – with different jobs – neither is directly contributing to lots of goals through assists or scoring themselves.
The Italian is an excellent penalty taker, scoring three from three attempts this season, but he’s only ever bagged two other non-penalty goals in his entire Chelsea career. Barkley’s goals return this season is even worse.
Although Jorginho’s unerring passing and excellent interceptions rate will make have lots of clubs chasing him, Chelsea can’t bank on Barkley repaying their £22m outlay to get him.
As for the forward players, it’s Willian and Pedro that Lampard’s had enough of.
Both have their qualities. Pedro is the fourth-most-accurate passer among wide forwards, Willian is the fifth. And both are hard-working.
Whereas Willian has won the ball back through tackles and interceptions more times than all but three wide forwards, Pedro has been the best at it.
On the face of it, both are also very creative, setting up the second-highest and fourth-highest number of chances of all 20 Premier League wide forwards with 10 starts or more this season (plus Pedro).
But there’s a suggestion they slow things down. Because the n umber of chance-creating balls they’ve played as a proportion of their overall passes is less impressive.
And if they struggle to find openings for others, they find it even harder to score for themselves.
Lampard sees Chelsea playing more quickly, scoring more goals from midfield, defending the flanks better, not giving away unnecessary fouls and having a keeper who doesn’t become an open goal.
That eight an easy task. But bringing in his own players will surely help.