The decline in outlays on the European transfer market didn't apply to Chelsea.
The London club spent almost $300 million over the primary transfer window to acquire Germans Timo Werner and Kai Havertz, Moroccan Hakim Ziyech, English defender Ben Chilwell and Senegalese goalkeeper Edouard Mendy.
After a fourth-place finish with a young team that included new American star Christian Pulisic, Chelsea was supposed to challenge for the Premier League title. Instead, it finds itself in sixth place and could be as low as eighth when the Premier League ends the 2020 portion of the season on Wednesday.
After a 3-1 loss to Arsenal on Boxing Day, Chelsea tied Aston Villa, 1-1, on Monday.
Following Saturday's loss, second-year manager Frank Lampard blasted his players and their "lazy" performance. On Monday, he played a different tune.
“I can’t ask for more from the players today," he said. "No one let me down, everyone worked hard, we didn’t get the rub of the green.”
The point against Villa was just the Blues' fourth in their last five Premier League games.
“You want to get results at this point of the year," the under-fire Lampard added. "I could feel the players’ disappointment at the end because they want to win. A few weeks ago people were talking about us as title challengers, now it’s a difficult period. The new players are going to get better as they come along.”
Pulisic has started the last four games after being out for almost four weeks with a hamstring injury that kept him out of the USA's November friendlies.
With Ziyech also injured, Pulisic was mostly used on the right wing before returning to his preferred left wing against Aston Villa. His only Premier League goal this season came off the bench against Leeds United on Dec. 5. He helped set Olivier Giroud's goal in the first goal but missed a couple of opportunities of his own.
Lampard praised Pulisic, though.
"Christian was really bright all game," he said. "That’s great for him, fitness-wise, to play two games in such a short space of time. He created plenty of chances, he had an opportunity himself when he hit the side-netting and it looked like it was in but overall, he was really bright."
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