Frank Lampard’s Chelsea side have handily given Liverpool their third loss in four games. While a Premier League trophy seems inevitable this season for Liverpool, Chelsea have come up with the goods to deny Liverpool of earning a Double.
Lampard has good reason to be pleased with tonight’s result. A clean sheet? Check. Positive performance after a lackluster match over the weekend? Check. Victory over the champions-elect after two previous losses earlier this season? Check.
“It was an impressive performance. It’s hard to be comprehensive against Liverpool because they remain in the game because of the team they are, but I can’t ask any for any more: the spirit, the work ethic, the quality.
“You have to defend really well to keep a clean sheet against them, and we did. We defended with everything, played well, and deserved to win the game.
“In the first two games against Liverpool we might have played some better football, and had more control of the ball, but today we had an extra spirit about us.
“Today we got an occasional slice of luck defensively, but with some quality from Kepa and quality defending from individuals, and we took two chances that won us the game. Those are the rules.”
Chelsea’s form has been erratic. One could argue that it’s been inconsistent since the brief spell of wins to start the season.
For Lampard, analyzing the team’s wavering form comes down to mentality. Lampard discussed having held a team meeting a couple weeks ago to go over expectations, results, and efforts to right the wrongs of recent performances.
“I felt we needed a general meeting on where we want to get to, and the realisation of the work it will take to get us there. We are not Chelsea of eras gone by, with Hazards and Costas and Terrys and Drogbas. We are in a different place. We have got young players, we have some older players, but we are trying to bridge a gap upwards.
“It’s important to know unless we work hard every day in training, unless we behave well when we go home and think about how we can be better as a group, we can’t make that jump.
“Our issue has been in both boxes and sometimes there’s a mental side to that. Our issue has been parts of games where we have bad moments and concede two goals like against Bayern Munich. It’s trying to take that head on, the mental issue. The players all agreed. We all said the same. It’s a good start, but beating Liverpool is not the end. We need to take this experience and replicate it again and again.”
To bridge the gap upwards to earn results to assure a Top-4 finish, Lampard speaks of getting the most out of his team’s veterans and the youth that have been integrated into the first team.
Amongst the youth standouts is Billy Gilmour, who put in a man-of-the-match performance in front of his family, friends, and national television audience.
“I have absolute trust in Billy. I remember when he first came on against Sheffield United and we drew the game, people questioned this kid, but I have no problem with him.
“He does all the right things, and he’s humble. All his family were here tonight, his nan and grandad were down from Scotland, and what a performance. It wasn’t just as a youngster coming into the team, that’s one level, he performed like a top-class player going up against top-class players. It was a great night for Billy.”
Chelsea’s midfield is looking at a further hit to it’s ranks through injuries (N’golo Kante, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, and Mateo Kovačić) and suspensions (Jorginho). A silver lining will be more opportunities for Gilmour to step into the first team like today.
Gilmour bossed the midfield, outshining Liverpool’s talented Fabinho tonight. Lampard insists that baby-faced Gilmour is ready for more.
“If he’s small in stature he’s huge in personality, and he’s also huge in talent. When I look at a midfield player I have lots of questions. Do you want to receive the ball in all positions and all moments? Yes, he does. Do you want to make angles and pick the right pass? Yes, he generally does. Will you put your foot in? Yes, he does.
“He showed he is absolutely comfortable at this level. I’m the first not to get carried away, but if he can play like he played tonight then he’s comfortable at this level. He can get himself in and around the team. The players know that, they sense good players.
“He has trained with us all year. He moved from Academy to first team building recently, trains with us all the time and started against Liverpool because of how good a player he is. He put in an immaculate performance, a brilliant performance.”
- Frank Lampard, Source: Chelsea FC
Chelsea now move on to the FA Cup quarter finals. The draw takes place tomorrow evening after the Sheffield Wednesday vs. Manchester City match.
Onwards and upwards!