The Blues boss is torn between bright visions of the future brought by new signings and the current defensive problems blighting his side
Frank Lampard insists that the signings of RB Leipzig striker Timo Werner and Ajax playmaker Hakim Ziyech shouldn’t unsettle Chelsea‘s current group after seeing his side suffer another setback away at Sheffield United.
The Blues lost 3-0 at Bramall Lane on the same day that Ziyech was pictured in Chelsea’s training kit at Cobham Training Centre as excitement grows over the west London club’s transfer activity.
Still, Lampard is clear that his current squad has work to do as their latest defeat leaves their Champions League qualification fate in doubt, with Manchester United and Leicester City piling on the pressure.
“If you want to be a Chelsea player and be in the Chelsea team and squad and fight for the Premier League, to fight in Europe and to fight for trophies you have to focus on yourself,” Lampard said in his post-match Zoom chat with journalists.
“At the moment, going into this season were 30-odd points off the top two last season. If you want that gap to close, you have to focus on yourself. If players come in, that should be the nature of the beast playing for Chelsea. It shouldn’t be a problem for anyone.
“I feel today a huge inquest is not needed because of where we are at. The games are coming thick and fast, we’re nearly at the end of the season. I will analyse the game myself certainly but for the players, the biggest thing is that they have to be positive and look to the next one.
“I know the feeling as a player. It was a horrible game for the players and none of the players played well. When you do that at a place like Sheffield United when they are playing well, it is a very difficult place to get anything out of it. I won’t dwell on it this time and I will concentrate on the games ahead and the players will too.”
Chelsea’s defeat on Saturday meant that they have now conceded more goals than anyone in the top 10 with 49, while the reverse was the club’s second-worst defeat of the league season after their opening day 4-0 loss to Manchester United.
While attention has turned to the Blues’ exciting new attacking signings, it is the defence that has come under scrutiny in recent weeks, and Lampard admits he keeps changing personnel due to individual mistakes being made during matches.
“It was certainly one of our worst days of the season in terms of performance and you get what you deserve on that front,” Lampard added. “Defensively, we have to absolutely focused on the games ahead.
“I would love to have consistency in the back four, or back two or three or whatever you want to call it. That is what you strive for. Unfortunately this season we have made mistakes and individual errors where you end up striving for it.
“That is the position we are in. The only way out of it is hard work with the individuals involved to get through this season as we’re still in a good position considering the expectations at the start of the season, then we’ll look forward.
“Amongst other things. You don’t want to concede that amount of goals. There are many reasons for those goals when we look through the season. Sometimes I bemoan the fact we don’t score enough, that gives you the feeling of comfort in games and nervousness can create problems that lead to goals.
“We know we have made too many errors in terms of giving goals away and it is something that we have to address.”
In trying to get to grip with Chris Wilder’s unique system which sees his centre-backs overlapping his full-backs while also providing plenty of bodies behind the ball when they lose it, Lampard switched formation three times on Saturday evening.
The manager has rarely opted to play with two strikers this season but opted to bring on Olivier Giroud for Tammy Abraham to create a 4-2-4 formation in the final minutes. Chelsea created a few late chances and the system is well suited to new signing Werner, but Lampard was reluctant to say that he would use it again in future.
“I am not sure. We felt the game needed something slightly different from us; we were struggling to play through because we were too slow,” he concluded. “So we decided to go a bit more direct at times. I felt the game called for it. It made us more dangerous but not enough. We’ll see going forward.”
Chelsea will look to get back to winning ways on Tuesday against bottom of the table Norwich City, who were relegated back to the Championship this weekend following a 4-0 thrashing at the hands of West Ham.