Tell me if you’ve heard this story before: Chelsea performance relatively lackluster; prompting Frank Lampard to make changes, with said substitutions making a positive impact to swing the balance of the game into Chelsea’s favor.
If you’re nodding your head in agreement, it’s likely because this story already played out a week ago in the first match of Project Restart against Aston Villa. Last night’s victory in the FA Cup quarterfinal against Leicester City presented an eery case of deja vu.
The elephant in the room, of course, is the horrific first half display. Match-winning goal-scorer, Ross Barkley, revealed Lampard’s displeasure with the first half performance. When asked about the team’s first half performance in the post-match presser, Lampard gave insight to his analysis of what he saw from the team and what prompted a triple substitution at the start of the second half.
“I don’t think we played that badly this season for 45 minutes. We’ve played a lot better and lost games. When it looks like I’m criticizing I’m actually being positive that it’s not the norm for us. It felt like it had to be addressed and I’ll give the players a bit of leeway because of the situation, these are tight turnarounds and sometimes it’s relatively understandable.”
“I wasn’t happy with that, we weren’t happy with that. The players wanted to win the game and we knew we needed more. We were fortunate not to be losing at half time and they delivered.”
“This season we haven’t shown halves or games where we lacked urgency in our play. Today we seriously lacked it. The three subs were… probably could have made more or different subs but I made them for impact, to inject a bit more urgency and personality. We needed to drag ourselves out of a lethargic performance. We did do that to be fair.”
Triple substitutions are a rarity in football. However, with the adjusted guidelines coming into effect with Project Restart, triple substitutions (or more!) are so en vogue right now across the Premier League.
Rotation will be paramount to ensuring healthy fitness levels with the squad. Lampard seems to be championing “load management” given that the starting XI featured six changes from the match against Manchester City.
“When you look at our squad, we have managed to get a few players fit and the bench gives me different options. You generally look at your midfield and attacking areas that cover a lot of high intensity ground during games that can maybe tire because they haven’t had a proper pre-season. [...] I always have an idea before games that the match can change your mind and give you different problems that you have to find a solution for.“
“Individuals that have come on have done well. We’ve made changes in both games before this and individuals have had a nice impact. Today it was more of a collective impact. Of course if we didn’t have the extra subs I wouldn’t have made the three at half-time.”
“The reason the subs are here is because we’re trying to prevent injury and the players have missed a proper, serious pre-season. A bit of a lethargic performance, we can maybe look at two pretty big games in a week and a very difficult game on Thursday. I’ll give the lads a bit of credit on that term and the fact they showed enough to turn it around and win a game against a good opposition.”
Lampard brought on Ross Barkley, César Azpilicueta, and Mateo Kovačić for Mason Mount, Billy Gilmour, and Reece James. Experience came on to provide balance to the team and replace younger and less effective players.
As happy as a manager would be with the positive impacts from the players coming on, Lampard spoke on the impact of the substitutions of the club’s promising younger players.
“I spoke to them all briefly at half-time and the end because it does happen in football. This is what it is. Sometimes it’s a tough game for different reasons.”
“I’ll happily speak to them. I’ve got no problem with them, it certainly doesn’t feel an issue where I can say they didn’t give me anything. The performance was lethargic for the whole team and they were part of that. But individually it’s very tough to standout when a performance is like that. I’ll say that to them, it’s not a problem.”
“Whether you can call it a learning experience, it was just a factor of how I saw the game. They can take it on board. They are all good lads, all train well and all have good work ethic. I’ve never had a problem with the three of them at all. I’ve got no worries, it was just the circumstances today.”
“I could have made different changes as well. Mason has played two games in a week and gave a lot of input against Manchester City for 90 minutes. Reece James hasn’t played for a long time, since lockdown. Billy the same. These are contributing factors around it. They are going to be top players for this club no matter what. They are going to have top careers in football. Really, really top careers because of the players they are.”
- Frank Lampard, source: Football.London
Up next for Chelsea in the FA Cup is a semifinal battle against Manchester United at Wembley Stadium, scheduled for the weekend of July 18-19!
Up next in the Premier League is a home game against West Ham United on Wednesday. Not much time to rest and prepare!