Towards the end of tonight’s telecast, the cameras panned to the Chelsea bench where Frank Lampard shared a moment with one of his assistants, then sat back with a satisfied little smirk on his face.
Not to read too much into one little moment, but Super Frank certainly has plenty of things to be satisfied with and plenty to smile about these days. The 3-0 win against Rennes was our third in a row and our fifth clean sheet in a row. It’s also meant that Chelsea are now unbeaten in ten straight in regulation, and that the only non-penalty shootout loss on the season is with ten men to the defending Premier League champions.
Before the game, Lampard warned of complacency and of getting too far ahead of ourselves in terms of the progress that we’re looking to make this season. The hard work never stops of course, but at the moment, things are certainly looking pretty good in every phase of the game. Even without getting the slice of luck with the VAR handball decision for the second penalty — “if I was the manager of Rennes today I wouldn’t be happy either,” commiserated Lampard afterwards — Chelsea were good value for a solid and enjoyable three points to keep us in control of our Champions League group.
“I enjoyed it tonight and I like the sound of [ten unbeaten]. It shows what we’re doing and the direction we’re going in at the moment. It was a tough game tonight. I certainly respected Rennes as an outfit. A very good team.
“But we did the right things in the game in every aspect. We started well, got our goals and saw the game out well. That gave us a chance to get some minutes in the backend of the game. I’m very pleased. We have to keep going in the same vein as we’re going at the minute.”
One player who was not afforded a rest was Timo Werner, who started his 11th match of the season already, and played the full 90, perhaps because he was on a hat-trick. Werner’s brace from the penalty spot confirmed his elevation to designated penalty taker, which the head coach confirmed in his post-match press conference as well.
“I spoke to Jorginho first because he’s been brilliant at taking penalties. It’s more missing a couple recently that I felt it was time to change. Jorgi’s answer was as professional as I’d expect. He only wants to score them but he was fine with that.
“If Timo takes them as well as today he’ll be happy. I’m happy he scored. Timo is as it stands now but of course he needs to keep scoring them. Today he did it very well.”
“Timo is fit, adapting quickly to the rigours of the Premier League, working our team out and how we want to play. It was a bonus, certainly a bonus that he could train. He’s been easy for me to manage. He works well. I left him on the pitch today because I felt he had the endurance with playing 90 minutes. I’m very happy with him.”
Werner now has seven goals on the season and continues to show great versatility as well, able to play as a wide man, a lone forward, or in a striker partnership. Tonight, he was once again on the left, which gave Tammy Abraham a second start in as many games in the center. Their linkup was one of the keys to victory, and something that Lampard hopes to cultivate in the future — to the benefit of all.
“We have options but those options were tight at the beginning of the season. I know Timo can do it and he gives the chance for Tammy or Oli to give their attributes as a central striker. The way we want to play in a 4-3-3 like today, you get plenty of opportunities as a left-side winger or inside winger to get into the box. It really suits him. We saw loads of fluidity in the front three as a whole today.”
“When we brought in players in attacking areas we brought in players who are versatile in their nature. We saw Timo tonight for instance. The quality Tammy can bring to the team are never short on me. I know what he can bring when he’s at his best. In his last two games, today and against Burnley, we saw him at his best.
“He got his goal tonight and he deserves it in terms of stretching teams, taking them long, setting off our press, jumping in. Not happy to just jump five yards but get the team up the pitch as the first man off the ball. Those things are very important for me. Sometimes it’s about the unseen. His goal was the culmination of his performances over the past two matches.”
-Frank Lampard; source: Chelsea FC
Chelsea will have a great chance to make it four wins in a row and eleven unbeaten on Saturday, when winless Sheffield United roll into town.
Momentum’s on our side; just have to keep it going.