Chelsea managed to advance to the FA Cup semifinals with a 1-0 win over Leicester City today, which, if you only saw the team’s first-half performance, might be a bit of a shock.
After the tremendous high of Thursday’s 2-1 win over Manchester City in the league, the Blues came out lethargic and slow and were lucky not to concede three times just in the opening five minutes — and that’s despite head coach Frank Lampard rotating out half the team, including most of the midfield and defense.
The boss rang the changes at half-time, including a triple-change that saw the arrivals of Ross Barkley, César Azpilicueta, and Mateo Kovačić. With five substitutes allowed, the triple change was less risky than usual, but the team’s first-half performance would’ve warranted it even if teams weren’t allowed to name and use more subs during Project Restart. If Lampard could’ve made nine changes, he probably would have (all except N’Golo Kanté and Christian Pulisic, before you ask).
In any case, the three new arrivals were enough to change the game around for the Blues, with two of them factoring directly into the winning goal (Azpi secondary assist, Barkley goal) and Kovačić doing good work to steady the center of midfield.
Great moves then by Lampard, who apparently turned the hair dryer on hot and high at half-time, as revealed by the man with the winning touch (and many other less-winning ones).
“[Lampard said] just that we were not good enough for the Chelsea badge, to be performing like that in the first half.
“And to be vocal on the pitch and make things happen and we improved in the second. We could’ve done a bit better with the final pass, myself and a few others, but yeah...”
-Ross Barkley; source: BT Sport
"We work on it a lot, he encourages the midfielders to get in the box."— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) June 28, 2020
A Chelsea midfielder with 8️⃣ on his back arriving in the box and finishing first-time...
Ross Barkley praises the advice Frank Lampard is giving him in training
The performance overall may not have been good enough, but it’s all a learning experience, especially for the young players. At the end of the day, the win is what matters the most. If we can gain some knowledge and learn some lessons along the way, then even better.
Lampard’s sure that the three youngsters he took off at half-time, Billy Gilmour, Reece James, and an absolutely knackered Mason Mount will do much better the next time and for a long time to come after.
“It is a learning experience. I could have taken more off, or other players off. I am not pulling those out on their own.
“They will be top players for this club and have top careers. But if I have to do something in games I will do it. It was one of those games where I had to do something. They will take it on the chin.”
-Frank Lampard; source: TeamTalk
Three wins from three since since the Restart, and plenty of room to improve.