Frank Lampard deemed it two points dropped for the Blues on the South Coast as Brighton came from behind to draw 1-1 at the Amex Stadium on New Year’s Day.
Cesar Azpilicueta’s early opener got our year off to a brilliant start but the visitors were unable to find that crucial second goal and the Seagulls punished us when Alireza Jahanbakhsh beat Kepa Arrizabalaga with a fantastic overhead kick late on.
Afterwards, Lampard pointed to our lack of ruthlessness and decision-making in the final third before half-time as the key reason behind our failure to take maximum Premier League points back to London.
‘It was an incredible equaliser but it is two points dropped for us because in the first half, if we’re ruthless then the game is out of sight,’ said the boss.
‘That’s not to say we had multiple chances but we had control, we had opportunities to play people in that could score and to make decisions around the box to score.
‘We had to keep switching the ball, keep doing what we did in the first 20 minutes, but we came off that slightly and allowed them to feel they were still in the game. They’re a good team so when they started to play a bit later in the game then they can cause you problems.’
Lampard did not wish to criticise his players too much for the equaliser.
‘They’re bigger than us so you try to compete as well as you can. They had a few corners, that can happen but then you have to worry about the second balls. You can’t stop the actual execution of the strike. I thought we dealt with set-pieces not too badly today to a degree but with one like that it happens and they get their goal.’
In analysing why we lost control of the game after half-time, he pointed to a drop-off in quality.
‘Sometimes you can accuse a bad period in a game on a lack of fight or urgency but today wasn’t that. Today was a lack of quality on the ball. We had a situation in the first half where we knew the problem for them, we could find our full-backs easily and keep the ball easily but then we just decided not to keep doing those simple things.
‘They matched up with us slightly in the second half so then it becomes are you better than us or are we better than you? We didn’t do enough at that point. It was a collective in terms of the lowering in quality of our game today.’
‘There were some standout performances, particularly Kante, Kepa and Toni Rudiger but in general as a team we lost too many balls.’
Frank was also asked what the performance said about his team.
‘It shows we have work to do because this Christmas period has probably been a small showing of our season so far. Tottenham was a fantastic all-round performance, Arsenal showed great spirit and fight for a young group, Southampton we struggled to break a team down and lost the game at home and then today was a game where we should have the mindset to kill it because the opportunity was there in the first half.
‘It shows the good and the bad of us so we must remain humble and we must work hard. We’ve had two great results over Christmas but there’s a lot of work to do.’
Finally, Lampard refused to be drawn on any transfer speculation now the window is open.
‘I won’t talk about [Wilfried] Zaha because he’s not a player of ours. If we have to do business we’ll do it in the way that we see fit to try to make us better and that will be done behind closed doors as opposed to just announcing who we might want to bring in.’