Analysis

Lampard on our ‘best performance this season’, the edge Ziyech gives us, and Kante and Kovacic’s class

Frank Lampard hailed a ‘complete’ Chelsea performance against Sheffield United and praised a number of individuals in different areas of the pitch who contributed to a fantastic result.

The Blades caused us plenty of problems last season and they were at it again early on at Stamford Bridge today, taking the lead through David McGoldrick, but the Blues roared back. 

Once Tammy Abraham equalised we were dominant and got our rewards in front of goal, with Ben Chilwell putting us ahead before half-time and Thiago Silva and Timo Werner each finding the net in the closing stages. Ahead of Sunday’s games, the result moves us up to third in the Premier League table and extends our unbeaten run to eight…

‘It was our best performance of the season in complete terms,’ said Lampard. 

‘Sheffield United are a really strong team. They’re very good at taking momentum in games and they did that in the early stages. We didn’t deal with it brilliantly and of course the goal we’re not happy with. The reaction was important, and the reaction from the team in the rest of the game was spot-on.

‘We are in a good place, but the level that has been set by City and Liverpool in the last few years means we have to be in that good place every game and every week. That’s the gap we have to close. I certainly won’t jump ahead of myself, albeit I’m really pleased with a lot of the signs from today.’

Match report: Chelsea 4 Sheffield United 1

Hakim Ziyech provided two assists and was a constant threat in the final third

‘He’s a top-class player. When you work with someone they impress you even more with their personality around the place and their quality when they get on the pitch. He’s had a long time out since the Dutch league finished and then he had an injury so to hit ground running the way he has is a huge plus for us.

‘He has given us an extra edge and a different threat. He gives us a different style in terms of the left-foot from the right side. He has an ability to find the last pass or cross, make assists and break teams that have a low block down. We clearly saw that today. He sees the pass and has no fear to try it, even if he’s missed the last pass, because he wants to play game-changing passes regularly. 

‘He exudes confidences in how much he wants to receive the ball and be the important player. He also has great work ethic so he is a complete player. He’s been a big plus and I expect there is a lot more to come from him.’

Thiago Silva opened his Chelsea account with a header from a Ziyech cross

‘He’s been brilliant: his level of performance since he’s been here, without much of a pre-season, his influence on the group, his individual performance, his preparation between games, how he attacks training, and how diligently he looks at opposition when we are having meetings. He wants to know so I have plenty of conversations with him pre-game. And then he gets his goal. He’s had a big influence since he’s been here.’

Mateo Kovacic was handed his first league start in over a month

‘When you think about our squad this year we have competition, as top teams generally do, and I need players that can lift the level and bring something different. That’s hard because every player wants to play all the time. Kova came in today and the midfield were great, the driving runs, opening spaces for others. It’s not easy when you’ve missed a few games to come in, but he played very well.’

N’Golo Kante alongside him has been a regular this season after a disrupted 2019/20 campaign 

‘I have made big steps to try and manage his training and games, and making sure we attempt to keep him as fit and ready for games as we can. He’s shown in the last couple of games he’s played he is N’Golo Kante. His attributes are incredible, he can play various positions in midfield, he has energy, the ability to win the ball back but also his ability on the ball. That is sometimes underrated. 

‘People always want to talk about him being the defensive midfielder around and he should be in a deeper role, but he can do lots of different roles with massive effect. I’m pleased he is fit now and we will keep managing that.’

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