Analysis

Are Chelsea exceeding expectations? Frank Lampard has his say

Blues head coach Frank Lampard highlights the importance for some of his players to experience a trip to the Etihad Stadium, as well as revealing his thoughts on how his side are performing in relation to his pre-season expectations.

It was a tough Saturday evening in the North-West for Lampard and his squad. We slipped to a 2-1 defeat against Manchester City to end our Premier League winning run, which stood at six going into the game.

While there was a period after half-time when the home side looked every bit the back-to-back title-winning side they are, equally we had spells of dominance, most notably for the bulk of the opening half during which we took the lead through N’Golo Kante.

‘I think it’s an experience,’ said Lampard. ‘For some, it’s their first time at this stadium, against a high-level team that they are. You’ll always learn actually, young or old, with those sorts of games.

‘There was a lot we did really well, individually and collectively, and some things we were slightly off with, which we can improve on. It’s my job to analyse that with the players and we need to go through those experiences if we want to get to where we want to be.'
 

Looking at the broader picture of how he can impart his knowledge on the youngsters who are still finding their feet in the team after coming through the ranks, our head coach insists it is a two-way process.

‘I’m lucky the players who have come through our Academy have come through this incredible Academy that we have – and they’ve come through as top young players and top young men,’ he said.

‘That’s a great start. The rest is something they have to navigate personally. If I can help them along the way, I certainly will. Experiences like this are great for them. They have to take them on the chin, in terms of the defeat, but also realise these are the levels we want to get to.’

The defeat has left us fourth in the standings, two points off third place and seven points clear of fifth. Whether that’s ahead of where he expected his side to be at this stage is a tough one for Lampard to ponder, for numerous reasons, but the reaction immediately after Saturday’s game gave him a better idea.

‘It’s hard to explain my expectation at the start of the season, because until you’ve worked daily with the players – and you bring players who were playing in the Championship last year and younger players that have never been here – you don’t quite know how that’s going to drop and how it ends up,’ he said.
 

‘I’ve been really happy with a lot of our stuff this season, so maybe that means we’re slightly ahead of the curve. But in football, the curve will go downhill very fast if you don’t keep on yourself and take a lot of the lessons from this game and move forward. Now our test is: can we really bounce back from a defeat when we’re used to winning? That’s another challenge for us all.’

There is little time to dwell on the setback, with a huge Champions League match at Valencia immediately on the horizon this Wednesday which is quickly followed by back-to-back home fixtures in the Premier League against West Ham United and Aston Villa. But can confidence be taken from the manner of the performance?

‘The feeling in the dressing room, it looked like they were very disappointed. That’s probably a simple answer, because we lost, but also I think they expect a lot of themselves. I think they will take an amount of confidence, but where we want to go to means that we might come here and win, and it might mean we can actually win titles going forward. I like to see them disappointed – it just shows the next question is the reaction we have.

‘I expected us to compete in the game, because I’ve been watching us training daily, getting performances and playing well. I’m confident in the players we’ve got. I wanted us to win, so I probably haven’t changed my [long-term] mindset too much.

‘I know this Premier League is hard and next week against West Ham will be a huge challenge, different to this, but we have to try and win it. I don’t want to jump ahead of ourselves. We’ll just go back to the training ground, back to our work and see where we can get to.’
 

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