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Frank Lampard on handball debate, hopes for Hudson-Odoi and protecting Kepa

The latest from Frank Lampard on his goalkeeping situation and changes needed to the handball law...

Football’s handball law has been the topic of conversation among followers of the game up and down the country this weekend and, although not a prevalent issue in our draw at West Brom on Saturday evening, Frank Lampard has offered his view that the current interpretation is causing mass confusion.

Both our upcoming opponents, Tottenham and Crystal Palace, found themselves on the wrong end of penalty decisions in the Premier League in recent days, with officials now required to penalise players whenever the ball hits an arm in ‘an unnatural position.’

It is that interpretation that has riled so many in the game, including managers, and Lampard backed the consensus that changes must be made.

‘I don’t have the answers but I agree with both Steve Bruce and Roy Hodgson in their analysis of it,’ said the Chelsea boss. ‘They’ve been in the game longer than myself but we’re all in this game and we all understand that when people jump in the box, arms will naturally move into these positions.

‘It’s always been a difficult rule with maybe a bit of a grey area but the idea of trying to find some clarity has actually gone the other way and made something that just doesn’t feel right at all so I’d like to think something can be done to change.’

The post-match chat at the Hawthorns centred on individual errors costing Chelsea two points despite a commendable fightback from a 3-0 half-time deficit. Lampard reiterated that cutting out those lapses in concentration and finding time to work with his players amid a hectic schedule were key to improving.

‘We should have won the game and we would have won it without those individual errors,’ he admitted.

‘In terms of our performances so far, it’s clear we have some new players in and a few of them haven’t even taken part yet because of injuries so we haven’t had time to train as a group. I’m very confident that the more we can work and play together, then we will improve.’

Kepa Arrizabalaga was on the bench for our visit to the Midlands and Lampard also confirmed that Edouard Mendy would be in the squad for Tuesday’s trip to Tottenham as he detailed how he was managing a challenging goalkeeping situation.

‘It’s been a difficult time for Kepa and that’s been well-documented,’ claimed Lampard. ‘I know it and he knows it but we should also understand that he’s a young man and a lot of the spotlight on him has been slightly unfair.

‘I have to protect him because I know he’s a good lad and playing with absolute professionalism and intent to do the best he can. I’ve felt strongly about that in the past week.’

Another player who started among the substitutes at West Brom was Callum Hudson-Odoi, although the young forward was one of Lampard’s half-time changes and had a key impact in changing the game for the Blues through direct running and consistent end-product, including our second goal after a wonderful give-and-go exchange with Kai Havertz.

It is that impact and effectiveness that will give the teenager the best chance at a regular run of games in the continued absence of Christian Pulisic and Hakim Ziyech, according to the boss.

‘With Callum, I certainly hope he has a big part to play this season,’ he added. ‘When you talk about Ziyech and Pulisic, we’re not inundated with wingers because we lost Pedro and Willian in the summer and we need competition.

‘If Callum comes on and makes an impact like he did at West Brom and keeps improving every day, he’s a huge talent.’

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