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Tammy Abraham: Is Chelsea striker truly Premier League material?

3:23 PM WAT 23/08/2019
Tammy Abraham Chelsea 2019-20
The Blues' academy graduate has struggled on his return to the big time, and doubts about his top flight competence are starting to increase

Tammy Abraham hasn’t had things all his way since returning to Chelsea in the summer after a successful loan spell with Aston Villa in the Championship last season.

The towering forward scored 25 league goals for Dean Smith’s Villa, who eventually got promoted to the Premier League via a 1-0 win over Frank Lampard’s Derby County side in May's playoff final.

The pair of Lampard and Abraham have had their respective homecomings marred by a lack of results on the pitch.

For the Blues head coach, it’s been his team’s lack of killer instinct in front of goal, coupled with their soft underbelly, that’s contributed to successive league games without a win – three in all competitions, if the Super Cup defeat by Liverpool is thrown into the mix.

Abraham has, to some degree, played a part in the team’s scoring problems, owing to inability to open his account for his boyhood club thus far.

It hasn’t helped that after last season’s quarter of a century goals in the second tier, fans were eager to see how well the towering forward will perform in the big time.

Furthermore, the forward’s cause has contrasted poorly to Teemu Pukki’s bright start to the campaign with Norwich City, the side Chelsea face on Saturday lunchtime, with the Finnish forward translating his fine second-tier form to the top table.

Both strikers competed for last season’s top scorer award in the lower division – which the title-winning hitman won with 29 goals – but while Pukki has thrived so far, scoring four times in two games, Abraham has struggled to get going.

Both Abraham and Pukki have things working for and against them as they look to compete in the scoring charts again this season.

The former still represents Norwich, who are unlikely to be among the division's top scorers, and face a relegation battle. However, he already knows his role within a settled team.

Abraham, by contrast, has returned to Chelsea, and while he should be seeing more of the ball, and in a high-scoring team, he has to adapt to a new style and unfamiliar teammates.

In addition, the varying levels of pressure both are under isn’t being considered, as the Blues frontman is under a sharper spotlight and is now expected to perform week in, week out at a big club, unlike the prolific Canaries striker, who's still with underdogs.

Be that as it may, the lack of a recognized top forward at Stamford Bridge has given Abraham the opening he’d always desired in West London.

The summer departures of Gonzalo Higuain, who returned to Juventus after his temporary spell, and Alvaro Morata, who won’t be returning from a loan at Atletico Madrid, paved the way for the 21-year-old to lead Chelsea’s attack. Considering the Blues' transfer ban, Olivier Giroud and Michy Batshuayi are Abraham's only rivals for a starting berth.

There are concerns about Lampard’s options upfront: Giroud gets stick for lacking the consistency and effectiveness that’s needed to lead a top side to glory, and Batshuayi, while being a natural finisher, is criticized for lacking in several other aspects of his game.

Abraham’s underwhelming year in a poor Swansea City side in 2016/17 is often brought up to question his top flight credentials.

Given the lack of goals coming from midfield, and Chelsea’s dearth of quality in forward positions, many have wondered where the Stamford Bridge club will find goals this season as they chase a top four finish. They lack the firepower to blow opponents to smithereens, and aren’t the best side defensively, so chances of sneaking 1-0 wins are unlikely.

Abraham got the nod in their season opener against Manchester United at Old Trafford, a real show of faith by Lampard, but faded after a bright start that saw him hit the woodwork in the opening exchanges. He was criticized for seemingly being out of sync with his teammates, and not having the awareness to run into goalscoring positions like more seasoned forwards, a criticism that’s persisted in subsequent games albeit to a lesser extent as he’s been dropped to the bench since gameweek one.

He missed a fine chance in the Super Cup encounter against Liverpool, failed to make a proper run on a Chelsea counter attack, and had his penalty in the shootout saved by Adrian to hand Jurgen Klopp’s side the trophy.

Furthermore, against Leicester City last time out, Abraham’s lack of presence upfront, as opposed to Giroud who was replaced just after the hour when he started to tire, saw the home side fail to keep the ball long enough to build attacks against the Foxes.

The aforementioned outing, coupled with a poor performance in an open training session at the Bridge this week, has further placed even more focus on his failings as many call for his removal from the 18-man squad for this weekend’s visit to Carrow Road.

Admittedly, the young forward’s shown some nice touches to keep play moving and also won the penalty for Jorginho’s equalizer in the Super Cup defeat, but that hasn’t justified his continued selection in the squad.,

It’s too soon to truly be criticizing the forward who hasn’t had a run of games under his belt, and really shouldn’t be placed under so much pressure this early into the season.

However, time isn’t a luxury that can be afforded to Lampard as he now finds himself under pressure to start getting results.

The same could be said for Abraham, whose ability is being severely questioned, and the jury is still out on whether the Championship conqueror will ever cut it in the Premier League, or at least at a giant such as Chelsea.