A delighted Frank Lampard said he couldn’t have asked for any more from his team in tonight’s FA Cup win over Liverpool, and the boss reserved special praise for a pair of players at different ends of their careers, Billy Gilmour and Pedro.
The Blues beat the runaway league leaders to book a place in the last eight of the Cup Lampard won four times as a Chelsea player. A significant step was taken on the path to more glory in the competition courtesy of goals in each half from Willian and Ross Barkley, and a first clean sheet in almost two months.
‘It was an impressive performance,’ said Lampard. ‘It’s hard to be comprehensive against Liverpool because they remain in the game because of the team they are, but I can’t ask any for any more: the spirit, the work ethic, the quality.
‘You have to defend really well to keep a clean sheet against them, and we did. We defended with everything, played well, and deserved to win the game.
‘In the first two games against Liverpool we might have played some better football, and had more control of the ball, but today we had an extra spirit about us.
‘We can compete with the big teams, but what wins or loses games is what you do in both boxes,’ added Lampard.
‘Today we got an occasional slice of luck defensively, but with some quality from Kepa and quality defending from individuals, and we took two chances that won us the game. Those are the rules.
‘We are trying to close the gap to the opponent today, and to do that we have to find consistency.’
Lampard spoke about a team meeting which took place two weeks ago and addressed our current situation
‘I felt we needed a general meeting on where we want to get to, and the realisation of the work it will take to get us there. We are not Chelsea of eras gone by, with Hazards and Costas and Terrys and Drogbas. We are in a different place. We have got young players, we have some older players, but we are trying to bridge a gap upwards.
‘It’s important to know unless we work hard every day in training, unless we behave well when we go home and think about how we can be better as a group, we can’t make that jump.
‘Our issue has been in both boxes and sometimes there’s a mental side to that. Our issue has been parts of games where we have bad moments and concede two goals like against Bayern Munich. It’s trying to take that head on, the mental issue. The players all agreed. We all said the same. It’s a good start, but beating Liverpool is not the end. We need to take this experience and replicate it again and again.’
18-year-old Billy Gilmour put in a man-of-the-match performance on national television
‘I have absolute trust in Billy. I remember when he first came on against Sheffield United and we drew the game, people questioned this kid, but I have no problem with him.
‘If he’s small in stature he’s huge in personality, and he’s also huge in talent. When I look at a midfield player I have lots of questions. Do you want to receive the ball in all positions and all moments? Yes, he does. Do you want to make angles and pick the right pass? Yes, he generally does. Will you put your foot in? Yes, he does.
‘He does all the right things, and he’s humble. All his family were here tonight, his nan and grandad were down from Scotland, and what a performance. It wasn’t just as a youngster coming into the team, that’s one level, he performed like a top-class player going up against top-class players. It was a great night for Billy.
‘He showed he is absolutely comfortable at this level. I’m the first not to get carried away, but if he can play like he played tonight then he’s comfortable at this level. He can get himself in and around the team. The players know that, they sense good players.
‘He has trained with us all year. He moved from Academy to first team building recently, trains with us all the time and started against Liverpool because of how good a player he is. He put in an immaculate performance, a brilliant performance.’
Pedro was another who stood out on his 200th appearance for the club
‘He was outstanding tonight in work ethic and players look up to him because of what he has done. He is always a goal threat. In terms of the season, parts have been difficult. He was in the team at the start, then got injured, then got out, but what he’s shown, particularly in recent weeks, is a real desire to be the best trainer, look sharp, be hungry, give advice and give the young players around him a lift with his body language.
‘If he carries on like tonight he can be very important for us for the rest of the season. He’s an infectious player, has consistent work-rate, can always do things with the ball, and gives everything for the team.’
Mateo Kovacic and Willian limped off with injuries
‘Both have got Achilles issues. Willian hopefully isn’t too bad, that’s what he’s reporting. We’ll see tomorrow. Kovacic feels slightly worse, but hopefully not too drastic. We’ll see.
‘We’ll have to have a bit of a count on Thursday, as they’re off tomorrow. We’ll see where we’re at in terms of midfield players. Sometimes you can moan about injuries, and I have, but the reality is you have to keep fighting and go with it, and when the players show the spirit they have tonight you hope it gives them strength as a group to keep moving forward.’