A meeting with Manchester United will inevitably bring back memories of our first game under Frank Lampard, and the boss has reflected on the improvements his side have made since that loss at Old Trafford in August.
The 4-0 scoreline was harsh on the Blues, who had dominated much of the opening hour and hit the woodwork twice. Lampard said in the immediate aftermath of the game that there were plenty of aspects of his team’s performances that pleased him despite the final outcome. Now, with the Red Devils visiting the Bridge for a Carabao Cup fourth round tie, he has considered how his team have progressed in the intervening 10 weeks.
‘It was probably part of the early learning curve of the season for us all,’ assessed Lampard.
‘We needed to be more clinical with our chances, which we have been since then as the season has gone on. And we can’t have sleepy moments for seconds against top players. Hopefully we have got better at that as well.
‘I believe fine lines change games, but they also change perception. The perception of us in this early part of the season is that we’re conceding too many goals, which I agree with.
‘When you scratch beneath the surface, in terms of chances conceded and shots conceded on our goal, we’re in the top one, two or three.
‘As a team defensively we have been pretty good, so it might just be individual errors or moments like that, but of course we can all improve.’
It was Kurt Zouma’s first game in a Chelsea shirt since 2017, and it was he who conceded the penalty from which Marcus Rashford opened the scoring back in August.
The incident did not affect the Frenchman’s confidence, however, and he has gone on to play a crucial part in our current winning streak.
‘That was a tough game, and a tough moment for him, but since then he has gone from strength to strength,’ enthused Lampard.
‘He has been a pleasure to work with and to coach. He just does his job, works hard, smiles a lot, and gives everything to the group.
‘He’s been fantastic. I had belief in Kurt. There was interest in him in the summer. He had a very good loan at Everton last year. I believed in him as I believed in Tomori, and that’s why I made the decision I made pre-season in terms of where we were going to go defensively.
‘It has been nice to get some stability - albeit cause of injuries – with him and Fikayo in the last few games. To get them playing together and to see the little bond they are getting on and off the pitch is a nice little story.’