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Lampard wary of winless Watford, stays coy on squad rotation

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Watford away next

Chelsea Training and Press Conference Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images

Chelsea’s run of seven consecutive wins in all competitions came to an abrupt end with Wednesday’s disappointing loss against Manchester United in the League Cup, so it’s time to start a new winning streak!

But while our next opponents, Watford, may be sitting bottom of the Premier League table after 10 games, Frank Lampard wants to make sure we don’t underestimate the Hornets. They finished 11th last season and reached the FA Cup final last season, after all, and still have players who can pose plenty of danger on any given day. With zero wins so far this season, they will be even hungrier to notch their first three points of the campaign.

“Without a doubt, I am very much of that mindset. First of all, I look at us and what we can do. Ever since we went on the winning run, which obviously ended in midweek, the game became more dangerous because of the idea of any overconfidence which I work against.

“We must understand they are a team with quality. We saw what they did last year. We know the personnel are very similar to last year when they were getting big results, being a strong team, making the FA Cup final.

“We cannot underestimate a team that will be hurting because they haven’t won for a while and will have every ambition to try and win this game. I have even more focus on what we need to do.”

That win streak earned Chelsea a lot of praise from fans and media alike, but the loss against United should serve as a warning against complacency creeping in. Just like in his playing days, Lampard isn’t taking a good run of form for granted, and is doing everything he can in training and pre-match preparations to ensure his players don’t either.

“Every game is this league has huge challenges. One of the challenges is they will be a bit wounded being bottom of the table, and the other is they are a good team.

“The good thing about our winning run was that we dealt with challenges. We dealt with Burnley and their type of football, we dealt with Newcastle and how they came to the Bridge. Watford will be another test to show consistency. That’s why I am not getting overexcited with the winning run. We have a long way to go.”

While Chelsea continue to deal with various injuries (Rudiger, Kante, Barkley, Christensen all out), Lampard does have a variety of options to choose from in attack these days, following the return of Callum Hudson-Odoi and Pedro to full fitness. They all want to play, but it’s a good problem to have, as the old cliche goes.

“Pulisic, Hudson-Odoi, Willian, Pedro — they are top-class players at different stages of their careers. They can give us a big input. It’s good. It keeps them on edge, and it gives me a problem, but it’s a good one to have.

“I’ll go as I see it. We changed slightly in midweek, but I am not here to rotate for the sake of it. I understand players want momentum and want to play, and there’s not the pressure if you have one game below par you don’t play, it can’t be that extreme, but it’s just choices I have to make.”

Three games remain before the season breaks for another international break. It’s of utmost importance to maintain positive momentum heading into it, especially in a league that is known to throw an upset or two every week.

“You can deal with blocks of games. I remember the feeling of dropping points against Sheffield United and going into the international break, and the difference between winning at Southampton and going into the international break.

“We have had a good period, for sure, but that can be easily lost in these next three games. We must give every drop in this next week, try to get the three results, and then they can all go and do what they do.”

- Frank Lampard; source: Chelsea FC

Onwards and upwards!