The Blues will be going for an unprecedented four consecutive clean sheets at the start of a Champions League group stage when we take on Rennes tonight, and Frank Lampard has explained some of the areas in which his team have improved defensively in recent weeks.
The goalless draw with Sevilla that kickstarted our latest European venture was followed by 4-0 and 3-0 wins over Krasnodar and Rennes respectively, leaving us in a very strong position in Group E ahead of matchday four. If we win tonight and Sevilla do likewise in the other game, both teams will advance.
That Sevilla shutout on 20 October was the first of six clean sheets in seven games. Our recent run is in stark contrast to our defensive record earlier this season, and for much of last.
‘We assessed the main areas we conceded goals in last season, so there were tweaks to address on the training pitch, and we have done that,’ revealed Lampard ahead of tonight’s game.
‘Some of the goals we conceded last season were mistakes, and some this season were mistakes, like against Southampton and West Brom. Sometimes it’s small details and fine margins.
‘What has gone up in a big way is the confidence of the team in their defensive nature, and the concentration of the team.
‘Obviously it should always be there, but sometimes these are things you have to work on and progress, and work and personnel help that.
‘We have clearly had big individuals that have come in - Edou Mendy, Thiago Silva, Ben Chilwell - and that helps, but the collective is the most important thing. The lads are working well and have confidence, and we need to continue.’
With the packed festive fixture schedule on the horizon, Lampard knows he will have to make good use of his whole squad in the coming weeks. After the trip to Rennes we host Tottenham, before which they play Ludogorets Razgrad at home on Thursday. The boss assessed whether he or his opposite number Jose Mourinho will make changes to their teams with Sunday’s fixture in mind.
‘There will be difficult moments for us in December,' he acknowledged.
'This week we will see. We go into a very tough Champions League game. In terms of the Europa League, Jose can pick from a very strong squad and make rotations. They are in a strong position in the group. We’ll see what I choose to do.
‘But if you’re not going to get up fresh and ready to attack the London derby we have ahead of us you shouldn’t be in the game, and that goes for both teams.’