Football

‘We’re not a Liverpool of last year’ – Lampard issues Chelsea reality check after form slump

The Blues have dropped vital points and their manager isn’t shy about pointing out where they have been found lacking

Frank Lampard thinks Chelsea‘s team is too early in its development to be compared to Liverpool‘s Premier League title-winning side and has detailed why his side sometimes falls short.

The Blues manager’s comments come after Chelsea suffered back-to-back defeats for the first time since December 2019 which saw the club drop from third place down to seventh in the league table.

Those losses to Everton and Wolves came after a 17-game unbeaten run in all competitions that had drawn a lot of positive attention towards Stamford Bridge.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp then went as far as labelling Lampard’s side the title favourites but Lampard was keen to play it down and he isn’t surprised that Chelsea have stuttered and not been able to show the Reds’ ‘machine-like’ ruthlessness consistently.

“Everyone was talking about us going on a great run and we should win the league. Part of my reasoning to dampen that was other teams have probably been together longer and built for longer which builds confidence within the group of players that they can deal with things better in games,” Lampard told reporters from Cobham.

“Part of where our progression is that where we have some younger players and newer players, and I think as times goes on, they will definitely get stronger in those moments. That’s why you have to take lessons from things like the other night when we lose.

“Personality is very hard to measure. I just think with a group that has been together for a long time and maybe suffered some tough moments and failures.

“Liverpool in their period now, they looked like an absolute machine last year, but there would have moments that they would have gone through over those four or so years as a club where they would have looked at themselves.

“I played in a team that had that. The early Abramovich years, we didn’t win the league the first year, we came second and next year we felt a bit stronger and learnt a bit more. I think that is football.

“It’s never easy to quantify as such but you certainly can work on it and build it and I think the responsibility is definitely with manager, staff and players altogether.

“The realism is we are not a Liverpool of last year or a Manchester City of the year before where you can just go out and win, win, win, win, win. In periods, you have to be ready for some tough moments.”

Chelsea are now hoping to overturn their defeat with a win over David Moyes’ West Ham on Monday night who sit just one point and one place below them in the table.

The London rivals are closer than ever after 13 games and a defeat could bring a wave of negativity in a busy period for the west Londoners. In assessing what has gone wrong, Lampard says Chelsea have fallen short in the basics having had time to analyse the last two games.

“The basic demands of football are the high-speed runs, sprints and being competitive, and we dropped our level for 15 or 20 per cent,” he added. “The understanding of it for me is clear.

“The confidence has to remain because we were playing very well and the table is very tight at the top level. We are much closer than we were to the top last year. We just need to remind ourselves of the great things we were doing before these two games.”

Lampard himself hasn’t been absolved of criticism after seeing the level of performances drop for two of his big money signings Timo Werner and Kai Havertz.

Some have called for a change of system, while others have suggested he has players playing out of position but Lampard remains confident about his 4-3-3 that delivered well-balanced performances just a few weeks ago.

“In terms of collection and system, the day that I pick a system and select a team that will make every Chelsea fan happy, it’s impossible, that day will never come and I understand that,” he concluded.

“So I have to do what I believe in and what we have done this season, and the unbeaten run coincided with us going to 4-3-3, and I felt it was the way forward for us. It was bringing out the strengths of the players and we were doing it very well, there were things within that system that I wanted to do and how we were moving the ball and building up play, we were pressing, but like I said before, we came off that a little bit.

“So it’s not as if we were doing things terribly; we were just doing them at 70 per cent.

“For instance, the second goal against Wolves, we’re four against two, so you have to make sure you don’t allow the player to turn. There are counter-pressing positions which against Tottenham we absolutely nailed for 90 minutes.

“So there are little things and that’s the lesson for the players to have to react in-game and pick up those moments and get them right. So players have responsibility but I have to take it overall.”

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