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Lampard updates on Pulisic’s condition, explains Ancelotti’s influence and assesses early title picture

Frank Lampard has provided an update on the fitness of his squad ahead of Saturday’s trip to Everton, including news of why Christian Pulisic sat out the Champions League draw with Krasnodar in midweek.

The boss was speaking in his pre-match press conference via video link from Cobham, where he also reflected on the early picture at the top of the Premier League and on the influence of his former manager Carlo Ancelotti, who he pits his wits against this weekend. However, he started with an assessment of who is in contention to feature for the Blues at Goodison Park on Saturday night.

‘We’re the same as we were in midweek,’ revealed Lampard. ‘Hakim Ziyech and Callum [Hudson-Odoi] we know are out for around a couple of weeks. 

‘Christian Pulisic had a tiny bit of awareness off the back of the Leeds game with one of his hamstrings but he’s training normally so we should be as we were,' Lampard went on. 'Christian is still a work in progress. I don’t want to call this an injury in midweek because if it had been a different type of game then I might have used him.

‘We know his abilities and he showed them when he came on against Leeds last week. I just have to find the right way to get the best out of him quickly and consistently.’

Lampard was asked about Jorginho’s form following the Italian’s return to penalty-taking duties on Tuesday night…

‘I didn’t doubt his ability in taking penalties. It’s normal when you take as many for club and country as he does that you can miss. He missed a couple in succession but, as we saw the other night, he’s taking penalties for us. He’s confident in his style and I’m confident in that too so that’s not a problem.

‘He’s vice-captain of the club and he gives everything whenever he plays and trains, and with how he acts, so I’m delighted with him.’

Another Italian, Carlo Ancelotti, was discussed prior to Lampard meeting him in the dugout this weekend…

‘I was heavily influenced by him as a player and as a man at the time. He’s right at the top when I speak about the managers that I worked with. He’s had huge success in his career at various clubs and one-to-one I found him to be a great coach and a great man. I very much look forward at all times to seeing him and speaking with him.’

There was talk about whether Chelsea would be involved in a potential title race…

‘I don’t know. We’re happy with where we are but I know there’s a long way to go. I don’t think it matters too much about the rhetoric right now because the words are not that important at this point.

‘For us at Chelsea, it’s about how much we keep working and understand that consistency over a season is what wins titles, not matches up to the middle of December.’

The boss also answered whether the Blues were ahead of expectations this term…

‘It was really hard to have clear expectations because of the variables at the start of the season - the Covid times, pre-season, new signings, some injuries, and I didn’t know how that would pan out. The start of the season was slightly false in terms of some of the performances and results, and at the moment we’re getting very good performances and results. 

'The reality is we’re probably somewhere in the middle of that. We need to make sure that consistency is something we find going forward. I’m not sure where we are compared to expectations but I always want more.’

With the Champions League group stage now concluded, focus can turn completely to the league for the next few weeks…

‘That’s why it was very important for us to win our group, get a real confidence boost from that and then put it away until the new year. We can now focus on what is a busy schedule and if you look at our next four games – Everton, Wolves, West Ham and then Arsenal on Boxing Day – you see exactly how challenging that is in a short space of time. 

'It’s important to focus and it’s important for the squad to understand that this Premier League is so tough and unforgiving that if we drop our standards, we won’t be where we want to be.’

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