After watching his team get the better of their Tottenham counterparts all over the pitch, Frank Lampard explained his decision to switch to three at the back, one which paid handsome dividends, sparking joyous scenes at the final whistle.
The boss’s decision to utilise a 3-4-3 formation played a major part in our superb 2-0 victory on the occasion of our maiden visit to the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. The Blues were almost entirely in control in north London, and deservedly head home with the points after Willian’s first-half brace.
It was not the first time this campaign Lampard has gone for three at the back, and after this showing it probably won’t be the last. Jose Mourinho suggested after the game our boss was mimicking Antonio Conte’s successful system from a few years ago, but Lampard refuted those claims and pointed out many of his team were not here then.
‘The way we play it and the message I give is different,’ Lampard pointed out.
‘It was more, can this be a system that helps us defensively and offensively against Tottenham, with the way they play? It was my choice to play it, not to do with whether the players understand it. The players took the plan on incredible well, as we all saw.
‘Watching Tottenham, they’re playing very well, they have a lot of players who can run behind and cause you problems: Son, Kane, Alli, Moura. Having an extra centre-back gives you an element of protection against that, particular with the athletic centre-backs we have. They never got in on that pass today.
‘But the most important factor in my thinking was what it could give us offensively, in terms of controlling possession. Tottenham defended quite compact, we needed to use the width of the pitch and wing-backs help you do that.
‘We haven’t been clinical enough lately, and it allowed us to get Mason Mount and Willian slightly inside behind Tammy. We had an element of protection the way it worked. Also it allowed us to have loads of control of the ball. I’m so pleased with how it went.’
After celebrating wildly in front of the away support afterwards, Lampard considered whether victory as a manager can sometimes be more emotional than when you’re a player
‘Possibly, especially when you’ve had a long week working. It’s not just about me, it’s about all the staff and their input. We’ve spoken a lot and worked with the players on the pitch.
‘The reason to get so excited is not to look like we’ve accomplished anything because we haven’t, because we play Southampton in a few days and we have to worry about where we are in May, but for the players to feel how they should feel after that performance and for the fans to see what they can do when they’re absolutely at it in all senses is a big deal.
‘Now, can we be consistent and can we reproduce that?’
Mourinho also suggested Toni Rudiger had made the most of Son’s contact but Lampard insisted that was not the case
‘It was a red card. I don’t know how much you’re supposed to make of something like that. Son is a great player, and from the outside seems like a great person, but sometimes in football you have instinctive moments that happen, a bit of a reflex, especially when you’re having it really tough, and it was that moment.
‘I will not have any word said about how Toni Rudiger dealt with that.’
Lampard said he and Mourinho remain on good terms
‘To go up against a manager who I respect so much from my playing days and for what he’s done in the game and win, feels good.
‘He spoke before the game about how he loves me but he wants to win, and that’s completely understandable and how we both went into the game.
‘It should never change, that. Even if we had anything on the line during the heat of 90 minutes, which we didn’t, it wouldn’t change that.’
Lampard also commented on an alleged incident of racism towards Rudiger
‘All I know is that Toni Rudiger has said he heart a racist chant or comment. I haven’t had an individual conversation with Toni, I’ve only addressed the group.
‘Of course I will support Toni, as I would support any of my players or opposition players, wherever this happens, whatever stadium it happens at. It needs to be dealt with. As I don’t know any more than that, we will wait for the process to happen.’