After guaranteeing a spot in the Champions League’s round of 16 with a 2-1 victory over Lille on Tuesday, Chelsea doubled up on the good news by announcing Fikayo Tomori’s new five-year contract. It was the sort of occasion that made everyone involved with Chelsea quite happy, including the head coach, who had already worked with the 21-year-old last season at Derby County.
“He’s come a long way and it’s all his own doing because from the moment he came to Derby he showed a work ethic and a desire to listen and improve himself. His personality has come out even more now because he was quite quiet when he came to Derby but he’s less quiet now
“Everyone saw his performances in the Championship last season and what he did, winning Derby Player of the Year, but then there were big question marks over him in the summer whether he could do it in the Premier League. He certainly hasn’t proved that yet over a period of time but from my point of view, I have full trust in him and I think he’s done really well.
“I’m delighted for him but the important thing is he doesn’t take anything for granted now he’s got that nice five-year contract. It’s important now that the hard work starts again.”
-Frank Lampard; source: Chelsea FC
It would be even better if we had Tomori available to feature tomorrow against Bournemouth, but it looks like he will continue to miss time with his hip injury. He’s been out of contention for the past few weeks, but Lampard does have some good news on his prognosis — unlike with Ruben Loftus-Cheek’s whose recent setbacks have put him behind schedule.
“Tomori is not fit. Hopefully training next week.”
“Loftus-Cheek, probably more than weeks.”
Moving on from injuries, the talk of the town is transfers.
Now that Chelsea are free to sign new players once again thanks to the Court of Arbitration for Sport upholding our appeal against FIFA’s two-window ban, one might expect a busier than usual winter window.
That might also be the case for exits. Players such as Olivier Giroud might be on their way out, although Lampard isn’t kicking anyone out the door, at least not in public.
“No [I haven’t spoken to Giroud yet].
“The players, all the players, I won’t have a talk about January until we get there. I am happy for him to stay, but I want everyone to be here for Chelsea.
“He has shown me that in training.”
As for players coming in, one of the strongest rumours nowadays links former defender Nathan Aké back to Chelsea, thanks to a £40 million buyback clause included in his Bournemouth deal.
But while Lampard has no hesitation in praising Aké for his performances at Dean Court over the last two-and-a-half years, he obviously isn’t going to go beyond that, certainly not at this point.
“It is what it is. [Aké] has done fantastically well at Bournemouth.
“As terms as the back four, I am very happy with the defence. We have to worry about Bournemouth tomorrow and the other games before the window opens.”
“We want a top calibre of player to improve us. I am happy with the squad, we have to look if we can.
“It is a joint effort, scouting, board, I will recommend players. I want players to come in who want to be a Chelsea player.”
-Frank Lampard; source: Football.London
One of those players might be Leicester City’s Ben Chillwell, the English left-back who is having an amazing season for the Foxes in their top four battle. But he does not see a problem in his current options for the position, focusing instead on the positives they bring to the field.
“When you look at the number of players we’ve got there and the quality of player, I don’t think it’s a problem. We just need to make sure with our full-backs that they join in a lot and have the capacity to get up and down, which is important in how we play.
“Emerson played really well the other night, Marcos Alonso was playing in a period of games where we were winning regularly and [Cesar] Azpilicueta can play there like he did in the Premier League-winning season under Jose Mourinho so I’ve got options.”
Still, if better options are available in the market, we should not be afraid to pursue them. The youth “revolution” may be doing quite well, but they could use some help.
And even if help arrives, it won’t arrive until January. So it’s up to us to fix and improve the things that need to be fixed and improved, such as chance conversion.
“We’ve had a problem with converting chances and it doesn’t make for comfortable ends to games that should be comfortable. Aston Villa should have been comfortable, Lille should have been comfortable, West Ham in the first half we didn’t play that well but we still had chances so that’s something we’re working on.
“We need to finish more of the chances we create and we need to make sure that when we’re controlling games we can’t have moments in our box that allow teams back in.”
“It really comes down to mentality and you have to understand that if you want to be a big club at this level and play in Europe and fight at the top of the Premier League then these are the little tests - after you’ve had a pretty successful but difficult night to then refocus on the Premier League.”
“If you don’t do the basics then any team in this league can beat you. Bournemouth are having a tough time but no doubt they have talent and ability in their squad to beat us if we’re not at it. [...] The two games we’ve lost recently have been a timely reminder that we’re nowhere near the finished article we want to become.”
-Frank Lampard; source: Chelsea FC
On paper, Bournemouth should another “easy” game like Villa, Lille, or West Ham. In reality, it’s probably going to be another close one. Let’s hope we come out on top this time.