Chelsea's crunch UEFA Champions League group game against Lille on Wednesday is set to be Frank Lampard's biggest test this season so far.
Lampard's managerial stint at Chelsea started well as they racked up seven wins in a row between September 26 and October 26. The team looked confident, played attractive football and picked up wins along the way. However, with just two wins in their last seven matches, the boys in blue are at a defining juncture midway through the season.
Starting with the 4-4 draw against Ajax in the Champions League, Chelsea's form has taken a dip and Frank Lampard will need to keep his players at the top of their game to continue the good work from the start of the season.
Against Manchester City, Chelsea's lack of quality in the squad was evident and they lost 1-2 despite taking the lead through N'Golo Kante. The Blues were lucky to hold Valencia to a 2-2 draw, with the Spanish team missing several chances to score and managing to somehow not pick up a victory.
Defensive lapses continued to plague Chelsea as they lost 1-0 to West Ham in the following week. The issues persisted in the 1-3 defeat to Everton on Saturday and will force Lampard to rethink his strategies at the back.
Kurt Zouma and Andreas Christensen have looked vulnerable at the back and the team lacks a leader in defence. Gone are the days of the commanding presence of John Terry inside the box but David Luiz was an influential player for the backline and since his departure, the team has not managed to keep their calm when opponents put pressure in their defensive third.
Fikayo Tomori impressed at the start of the season but had his fair share of defensive errors that needed correction. Lampard will be hoping to have Antonio Rudiger back and the experienced German international's return from a long layoff could be the solution that the English coach might need at this stage.
Chelsea are third in Group E, with the same number of points as second-placed Valencia. With just a point in their kitty, Lille are already out of the competition but could prove to be a thorn in Chelsea's European journey this season.
With the Premier League well and truly out of sight, Frank Lampard will want a deep run in Europe in his first season in charge of Chelsea. And Lille's visit could be the trickiest hurdle yet.