As the dust settled on our FA Cup final defeat, Frank Lampard’s thoughts turned to reflecting on the season as a whole and showing appreciation for the progress that has been made - against the summer outlook of many observers.
The Blues were unable to add silverware to our fourth-place finish in the Premier League, falling to a 2-1 defeat to Arsenal at Wembley with a performance that our head coach admitted was not good enough to win a final.
However, Lampard was not too downbeat in the aftermath of the game, claiming that one-off matches could always be lost. The bigger picture this season has been one of progress and surpassing expectations, according to the boss.
‘I’m delighted with the season,’ he declared. ‘I’ve wanted to keep that within for the last week because I don’t like to get too excited when there’s such a big game coming up but we have to reflect on the season going into it where people didn’t expect us to be in the top four.
‘There were unknowns, the transfer ban, other clubs around us moving forward with recruitment and we couldn’t so I don’t think this result takes away from that - far from it. You can lose a final and we have done, which is frustrating for us but there’s a bigger picture that we’re working towards here and we’ve seen lots of good things.
‘We understand there are things to work on but the players should be proud of how they’ve competed all season. The league position is a huge plus for us because not many people did give us that chance at the start and now we have to look to how we can get better. This game showed there is still plenty of room to get better.’
One aspect of the team’s play that Lampard will be determined to improve in 2020/21 is the defensive side, with far too many goals conceded this term. The Blues let in almost 1.5 goals per game on average in the Premier League and finished with the joint-worst defensive away record.
‘The numbers don’t lie,’ admitted Lampard. ‘We’re trying to play a certain way. I know the teams now at the top of the game - Liverpool and Manchester City - have been through similar periods in the early stages of their managers being at the clubs so it’s a work in progress for me.
‘I can’t shelve it in another direction. We have to work defensively as a group but some of the individual errors we’re making have cost us goals and they can’t be there if we want to keep moving forward.
‘We’ve had a good season but there are areas to improve and defensively of course we have to improve.’
Before thoughts can turn towards planning for next season, there is the small matter of a Champions League last-16 second leg tie to compete in next weekend in the German capital.
Lampard’s Chelsea trail 3-0 after a heavy defeat at Stamford Bridge before the lockdown and will likely be without Cesar Azpilicueta and Christian Pulisic for the game against Bayern after both players suffered hamstring injuries at Wembley. Pedro also came off injured with a shoulder injury, leaving Lampard potentially short of wide forwards for the trip to Munich.
Whether Willian recovers from a fitness issue of his own remains to be seen and the Brazilian’s longer-term future also remains the subject of discussion.
‘It’s his decision so I haven’t got that answer,’ was Lampard’s take on the situation. ‘He’s been a great servant for Chelsea and he’s been brilliant for me this season with his input and work ethic but if he decides to move on then we obviously will move on as well. I know the situation from the club’s end so it’s his choice and I respect that.'
Read: Azpilicueta on what went wrong against Arsenal