Replacing Kepa Arrizabalaga is No. 1 priority: Richard Buxton
Since his 2018 arrival, no goalkeeper has conceded more long shots in the EPL
Chelsea's English Premier League title ambitions currently reflect the new campaign's staggered start.
Their attempt to serve notice on the crown in a 3-1 win over Brighton & Hove Albion yesterday morning (Singapore time) did not live up to a summer of lofty expectations.
Frank Lampard has overseen the biggest transfer splurge at Stamford Bridge since Roman Abramovich rocked up in the English capital 17 years ago and embarked on a perennial trial-and-error process which has yet to stumble upon a lasting winning formula.
Signs that the former midfielder's outlay of over £200 million (S$350.5m) will soon be reaping rewards were evident at the Amex Stadium yesterday morning (Singapore time), but it was not enough to suggest the Blues will be going toe-to-toe with Liverpool on Sunday or throughout the season.
Juergen Klopp must relish the showdown at the Bridge as Lampard remains destined to persevere with the floundering Kepa Arrizabalaga, 25, for the foreseeable future.
Two years ago, his stock was at an all-time high. Such was the growing belief in the Spain international that his name reverberated around Sochi's Fisht Olympic Stadium during half-time in his country's World Cup group-stage opener against Portugal.
Now, however, David de Gea appears a far more reliable prospect for La Roja ahead of next year's Euro 2020 than the man whose compatriots had demanded replace him.
Insolence and incompetence have overshadowed Arrizabalaga's time in west London, with the latter proving far damning than the infamous 2019 League Cup final outburst.
Leandro Trossard's second-half equaliser was the 19th time that he has conceded a shot from outside the penalty area in the EPL since 2018 - more than any other goalkeeper. The strike was also the ninth goal shipped from the last 13 efforts on target Arrizabalaga has faced in the league.
Arrizabalaga can argue, somewhat justifiably, that his patchy form is attributable to the players immediately in front of him. Chelsea's defence has hardly resembled a solid, or even settled, ensemble throughout his first two seasons.
But the world's most expensive goalkeeper must also accept that his personal failings far outweigh any potential degrees of mitigation. Thiago Silva and Ben Chilwell's respective introductions will leave him with even less room for manoeuvre.
Until the pursuit of Rennes' Edouard Mendy reaches a successful conclusion, Arrizabalaga will continue to be afforded a stay of execution, purely because the alternative, throwing in a 38-year-old Willy Caballero, carries greater drawbacks.
Lampard may have beat Klopp to the signing of Timo Werner over the summer, but his club's failure to land Alisson in 2018 proved to be a bigger sliding doors moment.
Champions League qualification and limited upheaval swayed the Brazilian into electing for a move to Merseyside over London's bright lights. The pay-off was instantaneous as he helped Liverpool conquer domestic and European football over the next 24 months.
One-upmanship saw Chelsea surpass the Reds in the transfer market within weeks, but not where it mattered. Little is likely to change when the two teams face off on Sunday.
Only time will tell whether Mendy is a remedy to the Londoners' goalkeeping woes, in the same way that Alisson became at Anfield, or simply a continuation of the problem.
If Lampard is to succeed in transforming Chelsea into legitimate title contenders this term, replacing his No.1 is the sole issue which can no longer afford to be deferred.