Ross Barkley has revealed how Frank Lampard’s advice and social distancing helped him come off the bench to score the decisive goal against Leicester City.
Barkley was one of three substitutes introduced by Lampard at half-time at the King Power Stadium, as we picked up our performance after the break to win 1-0 and set up and FA Cup semi-final against Manchester United at Wembley Stadium.
His goal had more than a hint of those our head coach was famous for in his own time playing in a Chelsea shirt, with a perfectly timed run into the penalty area from midfield to meet a cross and turn it into the net.
It should be no surprise then, that it is a skill Lampard is keen for his players to master and drills into them on the training pitch at Cobham.
‘The gaffer encourages it, he likes the midfielders getting into the box,’ explained Barkley. ‘But not only that. In training every day, with repetition of arriving in the box, he encourages that and gives us tips. In this game it paid off for me and any midfielder that plays for us that gets in the box will get goals.’
Our number eight also revealed that the higher vantage point of substitutes sat in the stands during matches behind closed doors, due to social distancing guidelines, allowed him to spot the gaps in the Leicester defence before coming on.
‘Watching from the sides it’s an advantage being able to watch from high up in the stands because you can see the space. Coming on for the second half I knew that there was space in and around the box.
‘It was a great cross from Willian for my goal and we had a few chances. Myself and a few of the lads’ final delivery wasn’t at its best, but in the second half we created a lot more chances and we were on it more,’ he added, before sharing the message Lampard gave to the substitutes at half-time.
‘Just help the team win, really. To be vocal on the pitch, lift the tempo and try and make things happen, because obviously in the first half we weren’t good enough. But we came away with the win which was the main thing and I thought we played a little bit better in the second half.’
As well as putting us into the last four of the FA Cup, that victory at Leicester also extended our run of good form to five consecutive wins in all competitions, stretching back to the start of March before the season was interrupted. That now also includes two wins in the FA Cup against teams in the top three of the Premier League.
‘It’s the mentality of the club and the gaffer since he’s been back. He wants to win every game and it’s a trophy. Chelsea are a massive club, we win trophies every year and everyone’s motivated with every FA Cup game.
‘Even before the lockdown we had big results against big sides and since we’ve been back we beat Man City through the week and at Leicester against an excellent side we won the game. It’s given us confidence and hopefully we continue with it.’