Frank Lampard probably had something in common with all Chelsea followers when he saw it was Gary Cahill that suffered an unfortunate injury to open the way for his former team to go ahead in our win at Crystal Palace.
Such was the career our ex-captain enjoyed when at Stamford Bridge that no one would have wished a hamstring pull like that on him at that moment, but his current side still managed to make it tough for his old one after he went off and they went 1-0 down, with the game ending 3-2 in Chelsea’s favour.
‘For sure I have sympathy, because I know Gary, we are friends, and you could see straightway that it was a bad injury the way he went down,’ said Lampard after the game.
‘But then we had to play on and finish the action, no one is kicking the ball out in that situation. It is not one of those but you obviously feel sorry for Gary on an individual note. I know for head injuries the game would always stop but for injuries like that it doesn’t stop. That is pretty clear.
‘Any team would continue in that situation. Willian is through on goal. If that wasn’t the situation the game would be stop-start all the time. That is why we give the referee the decision.’
Pulisic and Willian important pair
Willian found Olivier Giroud to open the scoring and then supplied the pass from which Christian Pulisic found the net with an exceptional finish with his left foot. However after that good start, the team did not control the rest of the game in the way that looked likely.
‘Christian is hugely important,’ said Lampard. ‘He has great talent, we know that. At the start he came here in difficult conditions in terms of him not really having had a break, but he started to play really well and now he has moved his game on another level, not just in how he is going by people but there is real end-product. You look at the top attacking players in the world and they score goals and make assists regularly that win games and at the moment he is doing that, so I am delighted with him.
‘Willian was extremely influential and he and Christian are a big threat for us. The impact Willian is having in all the games at the moment, with his speed and how he travels with the ball, and his quality, we all see it every game. He has been brilliant for us.
‘But the first 60 minutes today wasn’t that great. We weren’t as slick with the ball as we have been in other games and we held on to the ball a little bit. I thought Billy Gilmour did pretty well but I was not overly delighted with the midfield today.’
Lampard emphasised his decision to select Gilmour ahead of Jorginho at the start has no implications for the future, and he was pleased with the calmness the more senior of the pair brought to the performance when he was introduced late on and we were under pressure.
He had also called upon Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Tammy Abraham with the score 2-1 and they combined for the third Chelsea goal.
Boost for Tammy, thanks for Kepa and Kurt
‘It will be really important for Tammy because he is desperate for goals,’ noted the boss. ‘He hadn’t scored for a while and that can happen as a striker so it helps his confidence. He took it well, and it gives me options. I am pleased with my strikers.’
Even then Palace scored quickly to make it 3-2 and ensure a tense finish.
‘We should have had the game under much more control at that point,’ said Lampard. ‘At 2-0 we should have carried on and controlled the game better, and then at 3-2 we had a lot of chances in the second half, chances to finish it off – slightly wrong decisions maybe on the final pass or shot and that invites pressure. Kepa made a great save and Kurt Zouma made a great tackle and in those last moments it was nerve-wracking for us.
‘The finger-tip save by Kepa was huge and that is what he is there for so credit to him for that one. To be a top team you need keepers making those type of saves for you to pull you through.
‘It was fantastic from Kurt and at Watford he played a really great game as well. Imposing, great defending, good on the ball and that is everything I want. Defenders won’t always get credit for those moments, the goalscorers get those, but his was a tackle that saved us two points. I am really pleased with him.’