Chelsea’s defence had been a concern throughout Frank Lampard’s reign until recent weeks.

The 2-0 win at Newcastle made it six clean sheets in their last seven games for the Blues.

That new-found defensive stoutness has been timely and much-needed for Lampard in a season where the title race looks wide open.

In the Times, former Blues striker Tony Cascarino credited new goalkeeper Edouard Mendy for transforming the backline.

Newcastle United v Chelsea - Premier League
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“Another team being talked up as title contenders are Chelsea, who comfortably dispatched Newcastle United 2-0 on Saturday,” wrote Cascarino.

“I have always maintained that if Frank Lampard could set up a back line that made fewer mistakes, his scintillating front line would give his team the firepower to launch a title challenge.

“The signing of Edouard Mendy in goal appears to have had a transformative effect, with six clean sheets in the past seven matches.”

Chelsea invested heavily in attacking talent during the summer, but along with Mendy, bought Thiago Silva and Ben Chilwell too.

Chelsea v Southampton - Premier League
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Now the new faces are more settled, Lampard has – for the first time during his Stamford Bridge reign – proved himself capable of organising a tight backline.

That solid foundation, married with the array of attacking players he has at his disposal makes Chelsea title contenders.

Liverpool are still the favourites and keep trucking on through the injuries they have, but Chelsea will be in the conversation if they keep defending like this.

Mendy looks an upgrade on Kepa, who became short of confidence last season, and that has lifted the performance of the back four too.

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