Frank Lampard says he and his players will learn a lot from how they react to back-to-back defeats when we take on West Ham United on Monday night.
For the first time in over a year, the Blues have lost consecutive fixtures in the Premier League after away defeats at Everton and Wolverhampton Wanderers, having previously gone nine games unbeaten in that competition.
However, we are back at Stamford Bridge tomorrow as we host West Ham in a London derby looking to get back to winning ways on home soil. Lampard believes confidence could be key to our chances of bouncing back against the Hammers.
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‘It’s of massive importance,’ he said. ‘It’s going to be a big test of the players, a test of myself, because it’s my job first to pick the players up. What I saw of the two games, against Everton and Wolves, it was things we were doing really well before, against Leeds particularly, and everyone says we are in great form and wants to talk us up, and we just dropped a level for two games and got punished.
‘The basic demands of football are high-speed runs, sprints and being competitive, and we dropped our level 15 or 20 per cent, and in the Premier League that happens. So the understanding of it for me is clear. The confidence has to remain because we were playing very well, the table’s very tight at the top, we’re much closer to the top than we were last year. So we just need to remind ourselves a little bit of all the great things we were doing before these two games.’
The fact that he has identified some of the strongest parts of our game as the areas where we dropped our performance in those two defeats also inspires confidence that the team can quickly return to the form we showed during that unbeaten run. It also explains why Lampard isn’t ready to make wholesale tactical changes just yet.
‘I have to do what I believe in and what we have done this season. The unbeaten run probably coincided with us turning to 4-3-3. I felt it was a way forward for us and it’s bringing out a lot of the strengths in the players. We were doing it very well.
‘There are things within that system I want to do, how we were moving the ball and building our play and pressing. We came off that a little bit. It’s not like we were doing things terribly in my opinion, we were just doing things at 70 per cent.
‘For instance, the second goal against Wolves. We were four against two, so you’ve got to make sure you don’t allow the player to turn. It’s counter-pressing situations that against Tottenham we absolutely nailed for 90 minutes. So there are little things and that’s the lesson for the players to have to react in-game and pick up those moments and get them right.’
Another reason for optimism is that Lampard believes it is moments and challenges like this that add experience and togetherness in a developing team and can sometimes be the making of a great side.
‘I just think that with a group that has been together for a long time and maybe suffers some tough moments and failures. Liverpool looked like an absolute machine last year but there would have been moments they went through over those four or so years of Jurgen Klopp where they would have looked at themselves.
‘I played in a team that had that, in the early Abramovich years. We didn’t win the league the first year, we came second. The next year we felt a bit stronger, we’d learned a bit more, and I think that is football.’
We all know how that second season of the Roman Abramovich era ended, and the long-term success that followed, so who knows, we may look back on these two defeats as a blessing in disguise for the current Chelsea squad in years to come.