Chelsea given three reasons to expect a difficult season ahead of opening day test at Manchester United

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Pundit Graeme Souness has given a warning of sorts to Chelsea ahead of what looks likely to be an extremely challenging season at Stamford Bridge.

The Blues kick off their campaign with a tough test away to Manchester United this afternoon, with the inexperienced Frank Lampard set to take charge of his first competitive game with the club, and his first ever at Premier League level.

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It’s a real baptism of fire for Lampard as he takes Chelsea to Old Trafford, and it could well be the start of a long season for all involved with the west London club.

Writing in the Times, Souness reels off a list of reasons for CFC to worry, discussing Lampard’s inexperience and the massive step up he’s made from Derby County, as well as the departure of Eden Hazard to Real Madrid and the lack of a goal-scorer at the club as Olivier Giroud becomes their main man up front.

It’s hard to argue with Souness, though Chelsea fans will be hoping young players like Christian Pulisic, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Mason Mount and Tammy Abraham can have an impact and that Lampard’s knowledge of the club will serve him well despite him still being a newbie to top-level management.

“Managing Derby is a world away from managing Chelsea, as much as Lampard thinks he knows Chelsea and understands how it works,” Souness said.

“Derby’s a proper club, but it’s a medium-sized one in the Championship, not one that has been super-successful like Chelsea. Now it’s the weakest squad since Abramovich took control.”

On Hazard, he said: “I worry for Chelsea. They’ve lost arguably the best player in the Premier League in recent years. Since the start of the 2012-13 campaign, Eden Hazard was directly involved in 191 goals in 352 appearances; 94 more than any other Chelsea player in that period.

Eden Hazard will be a big loss for Chelsea

“Any team is going to miss that contribution, but particularly Chelsea without an obvious 20-goals-a-season man. There’s a lot of pressure on Olivier Giroud or any young guy that comes in.

“We’ve highlighted here before that Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic don’t get goals, Ross Barkley doesn’t get a lot, N’Golo Kante doesn’t, so it could be a difficult season for Chelsea when you factor in their transfer embargo as well.”

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