For first-hand knowledge of how to win an FA Cup final, Chelsea’s less-experienced players could hardly have someone better to turn to than Frank Lampard, although the manager is choosing his moment for when to use words to inspire his team ahead of taking on Arsenal.
As a player, Lampard won four of the finals he played in this competition, losing just the once in 2002 when ironically, the Gunners were also the opposition. That was back when he was considered a player still developing towards his peak, as is the case with a good proportion of the current squad.
On whether he will draw on his past knowledge of these occasions when addressing those players, Lampard says he probably will do, but adds:
‘I haven’t specifically so far. We will be together a lot from now until the start of the game and sometimes the best words are saved until later on, in the final preparations for a game.
‘I also don’t want to heap too much pressure on. Most of the players who have been part of it this year have played in big Champions League games, and in critical FA Cup games that have got us here, against Liverpool and Manchester United and Leicester.
‘They have experiences of playing in big, high-level games, so there might be the odd word but I just want them to perform as they train, as they performed pretty regularly this season because if they can find those sort of standards then we have a really good chance to win.
‘Of course to win would be a boost, but the experience of a cup final for young players is an experience anyway. It is certainly the case with young players that you can improve the more finals you play, not everyone is fortunate to play so many [as Lampard did] but they do have a different feel to them. There is an extra pressure and a necessity to win and that can change the face of the game and the focus on the small details, so it will be a great experience for our players whatever. Of course we want to win.’
On a personal note, Lampard acknowledges many great managers have gone a long time without lifting silverware so he would be delighted if he can do so this early in his career in charge, but predominantly he want to win it for the club and the players for the work they have put in through the year.
‘It will be strange to have no fans at the final,’ he adds. ‘We are getting used to it, that is not to say we like it because we want the fans back. We have to respect current circumstances, particularly with what is happening in the last few days [with new restrictions in response to coronavirus case numbers in parts of England]. We respect that in everything we do.
‘It doesn’t affect preparations. It still means the same thing because a trophy like this one either stays with you for life or is pretty quickly forgotten if you are a losing finalist. Of course you would love the fans to be there, our fans have been great for us all season and I am sure Arsenal will say the same, and the fans love days like this to come and support their team and players thrive on that.
‘But I am very much looking forward to the Cup final, no matter the different circumstances surrounding it. The fact remains the FA Cup is a huge cup that we want to try to win and we have a very tough match against a London derby rival.’