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Lampard, Azpilicueta, Willian head off Chelsea unrest narrative after Barkley penalty miss

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DRAMA

Chelsea FC v Valencia CF: Group H - UEFA Champions League Photo by Bryn Lennon/Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

We first noticed it in the preseason friendly against RB Salzburg. We then noticed it in the preseason friendly against Borussia Mönchengladbach. Ross Barkley, preseason god, was Frank Lampard’s designated penalty taker (ahead of Tammy Abraham and presumably Jorginho, in that order, with Willian injured).

Lampard himself confirmed that after yesterday’s game, through despite the hard evidence, some still think he’s lying and just protecting the player (never mind the mixed message that would be sending his own players, who are his main concern).

None of that changes the fact that unfortunately Ross Barkley — who actually has a rather sparse (and now poor) official record from 12 yards (3-of-5) — missed the penalty. And because at least three players all hovered around, talked, shook hands, or ... tied their shoelaces? ... right around him, it’s now a “thing”. “Dressing room unrest”! “Penalty row”! Drama, with a capital D. And once something’s a thing, it can quickly grow into a narrative. And narratives are hard to kill. Sometimes impossible, even.

Frank Lampard will surely still remember even José Mourinho struggling to do so at times over the years.

“It is a great story to say there is contention between players. If he scores it is not a story. But he took it and missed. That is it. The disappointment to all of us is that we didn’t get chance to win the game. There is no issue in the dressing room.”

-Frank Lampard; source: Star

End of story, right?

Probably not.

Chelsea captain César Azpilicueta gamely tried to play the whole thing off as inconsequential as well, but his explanation certainly had a slightly unconvincing air about it. Willian himself admitted that he wasn’t just there supporting Barkley, and initially asked to take it.

“I wanted to take it but he was confident to take it.

“This is football. He missed the penalty but it could be me that missed, or Jorginho or whoever. So football is like this. But when we win, we win together, and when we lose, we lose together.”

-Willian; source: Metro

With the media narrative forces suddenly marshaling on our borders, we’re going to have to stick together indeed. Maybe even feed ourselves some naive little porky pies.

Here’s the captain with the aforementioned idealistic take.

“Ross is one of the best penalty takers in the team and one who takes them. He had the confidence and he was unlucky hitting the bar. They [the other players around him] were encouraging him to have the confidence to score. There was high expectation. They were trying to get him into the best condition. Hopefully next time it goes in.”

-César Azpilicueta; source: Star

Well, that much we can all agree on. Let’s hope it goes in next time, whoever’s taking it.