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Lampard showers praise on Rüdiger, explains goalkeeper selection, Barkley substitution

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Lampard speaks before the break

FBL-ENG-PR-LEICESTER-CHELSEA Photo by ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images

Chelsea gained a massive point gained away at Leicester and in turn did not concede much ground in the quest for a top 4 finish this season following an end to end 2-2 draw that showed promise, disappointment and a lot of scope for improvement for the Blues.

Leicester had several chances to win the game in the secodn half while Chelsea would once again rue not finishing some quality ones of their own.Even stevens says Lampard.

“A fair point on play.

“First half we were the better team. We had some good chances, and we gifted them some. Our work off the ball, and some of our stuff on the ball, was good, to come here and play with that personality.

“Second half of course they had their chances late in the game. So it evened itself out. I am pleased with a point.”

Chelsea have often missed an on field leader and motivator to lift a largely young and inexperienced team during cycles of inconsistent showings this season. While Rudiger, who has recently returned from injury, has by no means been the perfect defender this season, his characteristics came in handy today where the result mattered more than the performance.

“I was delighted with his two goals. We need to score more from set-pieces, particularly in games against good opposition when it’s tight. So really pleased with Toni.

“We did miss him earlier in the season. He brings an aggression and a presence in everything he does. That’s good because we have young players in those areas as well. He is more experienced of our centre-backs. He brings his quality in lots of ways.

“Set-pieces are something we have been a bit short on, in terms of how desire have we got to put our head on it and score goals. He brings that naturally.”

Lampad literally dropped a major bombshell once the team news was announced. Kepa, without much fuss this time, was shown the bench in favour of the 38 year old Willy Caballero between the sticks. Kepa’s relatively poor showing this season finally made Lampard take some serious decisions.

While Caballero made a couple of good saves to deny Vardy, he was found wanting positionally for Leciester’s second. As all great managers do in the post game pressers, Lampard justified his decision to play Caballero and defended his fault in the goal.As long as it lights a fire under Kepa, the gamble might prove to be successful in the long run.

“I thought his performance was pretty good, he made some good saves, was comfortable with his feet. I was right behind the Harvey Barnes goal and it was typical with the deflection.

“He wasn’t at fault for the second goal, not in my opinion. The ball travels on the cross, he follows that and retreats to his goal when he realises he can’t get it. The problem comes when we defend the cross and get sucked into the six-yard box. Chilwell pops up the other side of that, and someone has to be tighter to him.”

“You make decisions every week and every day in this job. No decision is easy. When it comes to a goalkeeper you probably do give it a little bit more thought and a bit more time, especially if someone seems to be the designated number one. That can’t be the end of the story. We have to be competitive. Willy trains well, he acts well and he played well against Hull last week. I decided to stick with him.”

Another eyebrow raising decision from Lampard was the final substitution of the game where Barkley replaced Tammy Abraham despite Batshuayi available on the bench. Was it a message to the board for the lack of transfer inactivity regarding Strikers in the January window.... or perhaps it was just a tactical decision as Lampard explains below. Shades of Mourinho’s tutelage could be seen there.

“It wasn’t really to shore it up. We’d spent a lot of time this week on how we press without the ball. Ross has been playing pretty well recently. It was a case of bringing him and Willian on in those two front positions to maybe get a bit more ball. At that point it hadn’t stuck so much up there.”

- Frank Lampard; source: Chelsea FC

Onwards and upwards after the break!