In his press conference ahead of tomorrow’s game at West Ham, Frank Lampard reported the latest injury news, discussed N’Golo Kante’s role in the team and responded to the latest transfer speculation.
The boss will be returning to the club where he made his name, albeit in a stadium he never played in and without any home supporters wishing to make his life uncomfortable. Today Lampard was quick to stress his own personal history bears no significance to another crucial fixture for the Blues in our hunt for a top-four spot. He also spoke about the immediate plans for Hakim Ziyech and Timo Werner.
As in now the norm, he responded to journalists’ questions posed via Zoom, and started by giving the latest injury news regarding Christian Pulisic and Andreas Christensen.
‘Christian felt a bit of tightness in his calf when he came off against Leicester,’ said Lampard.
‘We’re managing him. I haven’t got an answer for him yet, it feels better than it did at the end of the game, so we’ll see by tomorrow.
‘Andreas Christensen likewise is in the squad, but we will have to see with another 24 hours because of the tight turnaround.’
Lampard said Chelsea had no interest in Angel Gomes, and there had been no discussions with West Ham about Declan Rice
‘Declan Rice is a good player, I’ve known him for a long time, he was in Chelsea’s Academy, but there’s no talk. I will keep saying that about every player until these games and this season are finished. There’s nothing to say.’
With three matches now played, Lampard reflected on his team’s form since the restart
‘I’m happy to win games and with elements of the games we’ve played, particularly the first two. We have to keep working along the same lines. We have to focus on every part of our game, particularly the defensive and work ethic aspects.
‘It’s been a mixture of coming to terms with new surroundings, and the very short pre-season we had. It’s not normal. I know from being a player myself the first one or two games of pre-season you’re normally feeling your way in. Sharpness is not always there, and sometimes it takes players a bit of time to get up to speed for those fine margins in the game, the extra five per cent that maybe makes games more sharp in the attacking sense.
‘We have to focus on what’s ahead rather than what’s gone before. We’ve had a good week but we’ve got a lot of work to do.’
Lampard also explained how his role has changed in the past six weeks
‘I’ve found it a really nice and interesting challenge, from the start. The small-group training actually helped in a way in getting specific physical work in with the players. It was testing in a work sense in that we are quite small staff here for a Premier League club. We had separate, staggered groups, and to keep it interesting but also practical for the players is work. That was something we learned from and enjoyed.
‘In the shorter pre-season, the balance of incorporating your physical work and your tactical work together is something you’re always trying to find. It was even more important in this short time. We had great buy-in from the players, with the harder sessions we were putting on, to try and ramp up the intensity quickly. They really performed well and rose to the challenge.
‘Hopefully we got ourselves in a good spot, and the first few games have shown a good energy about us. We have hit the numbers we wanted to physically, and also worked on the patterns we want to play. Lockdown gave me some really good reflection time on ways we can improve, and hopefully that will show until the end of the season.
‘Now the games have started it’s more about ticking over between games, keeping the players in the best condition physically, so there is a lot of video analysis with the players because we can’t work that hard.’
N’Golo Kante has been deployed as the deep midfielder since the restart, and Lampard was asked to compare his role to the one his former team-mate Claude Makelele thrived in
‘It is a different position to what I’m asking from Kante to what Makelele played. With eras and the players around you that changes. With N’Golo I have a way I want us to work in midfield to have some fluidity to us, which allows N’Golo to bring his best attributes to the game. They are not always to sit in front of the back four.
‘He has such capacity for high-intensity running and to leave areas, you want him to go and do that, which sometimes leaves him higher up the pitch and the other midfielders have to react. He’s done it well. We can improve as a unit the more everybody works on it together. N’Golo’s attributes and his absolute quality mean he can play in any position you want him to.
‘He is an incredible player and is huge for this club, and he will be going forward for a long time. I’m happy with him. It’s not just about N’Golo, it’s about the other players in the squad. We have a lot of competition in midfield, and at the moment N’Golo is doing a really good job for us there.’