Lampard explains why he knew Abraham was ready for the number nine shirt and calls for collective solutions

Frank Lampard believes the key to tackling our difficult recent home form is to face the problem head-on and work collectively to overcome the challenges posed by stubborn opponents.

The boss has therefore called on his players, as well as the Chelsea supporters, to play their part as we seek a first Premier League win at Stamford Bridge since early December when Burnley visit SW6 on Saturday afternoon.

West Ham, Bournemouth and Southampton have all emerged victorious as recent visitors to the Bridge and Lampard knows that our record on home soil must improve swiftly.

‘We’re striving to get into the top four and I think that will be a big achievement if we can do it but if you can’t win at home then of course that will be something that compromises that,’ he said.

‘We understand how tough the league is but we want to win every home game and I don’t mind the pressure of that. I don’t mind talking about it because we have to accept it is there.

‘As players and the stadium, we can all work together to try and create something, an atmosphere that is going to be positive.’

Lampard has been using the tried and tested techniques that aided him during his playing days when seeking to find a way through difficult periods, namely a determination to keep on working in order to find solutions.

‘I only go by what served me well in my career when things weren’t going for me and that was to work and repeat on the training ground,’ he continued. ‘I repeated as much as I could and then I found something would happen for me on a matchday. That was an individual thing but it can be a collective as well.’

In terms of individuals, Tammy Abraham continues to impress as the Blues’ leading man. His next club goal will be number 15 of the season and, while Lampard has been pleased with his development over the first five months of this campaign, he also wants to see even more from his number nine.

‘I’m delighted with him, with his progression and I have been all season,’ declared the boss. ‘For me, he’s a player who can play at the very highest level but he’s still in those early stages. This is the first period of time in the Premier League where he’s scoring goals so I expect a lot more of that from him.

‘The good thing I love about Tammy is he’ll be watching every type of striker and trying to improve himself at all times. That’s the most important thing – to focus on himself – and then the rest will fall into place if he does that.’

The number nine shirt was not bequeathed lightly, particularly given the weight of pressure it can bring to any centre-forward, not least someone so young. However, Lampard knew early on in pre-season that Abraham would relish it as an honour rather than a burden.

‘When the number nine shirt was available [in the summer] there were quite a few people around here warning me to be careful and saying that it’s not always had the best feeling in different players,’ he explained.

‘It was my decision to give it to him purely on his personality in pre-season. I knew he was a good player and I liked him on the training ground but his personality showed me that he wanted it. I’ve seen him as a young boy coming through the ranks here for such a long time, always wanting to be Chelsea’s number nine, so I thought it was an opportunity for him to rise to that.

‘It’s an easy thing at that point to say and feel but to then go and produce like he has done, it’s been a great start. Now he needs to keep going because he’s probably at the stage where people are starting to expect him to score, to play well and to affect games in a big way, and that brings a new challenge.’

There have yet to be any significant incomings or outgoings during this January transfer window, although Lampard did provide an update at his Friday press conference on Olivier Giroud and Andreas Christensen. One player who will remain in west London this month is Pedro, with the Spaniard able to offer plenty to the team over the second half of the campaign.

‘Pedro is part of my plans,’ said Lampard. ‘We started the season and he was in the team but then unfortunately he got injured at Norwich before the game and was then out for a while. I do have competition in that area so he’s played a few games here and there but I know he wants to play more and I get that.

‘He certainly has something that he can contribute to us, with his experience and his ability to break lines, run behind people and maybe get those goals in and around the box. We need everybody because football can change very quickly.’

The head coach also had words of praise for Kepa Arrizabalaga, commending his impact in our New Year’s Day draw at Brighton.

‘Goalkeeper is a specific position and they are normally very obsessive about clean sheets, sometimes overly so because I believe that clean sheets are a collective,’ he noted.

‘I will always be hoping that he feels confident but it’s a balance between confidence and players being on edge, knowing that we want them to produce.

‘He has made good saves recently, notably against Brighton, and I’m always happy with that because that’s what he’s there for and that’s what you require of him. It’s great to see that and for him to save us points in games.’


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