Frank Lampard has questioned the mindset of his Chelsea players, wondering if they have been negatively affected by being talked about as contenders for the Premier League title a few weeks ago, and has demanded a return to the required levels of enforcement against Aston Villa on Monday night. .
The Chelsea manager was furious after Boxing Day’s 3-1 loss to Arsenal, when his team trailed 2-0 at halftime. Lampard said his players lacked character during what he described as the worst 45 minutes of the season and he blamed not fatigue, but rather a focus on missing the basics, primarily running and effort.
Lampard was always going to make changes to his squad for Villa’s visit due to Arsenal’s grueling two-day game changeover, but suggested that some of the players would pay for their performances at the Emirates Stadium.
When Chelsea beat Leeds at home on December 5, they were third in the table, two points off the top and unbeaten in nine games in the competition. Since then they have lost three out of four.
“There will be some changes and I knew it anyway,” Lampard said. “I’m certainly not going to drum on it [48-hour] change of course after our performance against Arsenal.
“It is not the important point. But to play two games in two days, we have to make changes anyway. Some of them will happen now because of how the game was and people will have to come in and inject the energy and personality of our normal performances.
“The reason we were undefeated in so many games was because of that, so we have to come back quickly. Part of that is perhaps where we are as a team. People wanted to talk about us as title contenders … I never accepted that as the case because we are not there.
“That takes time to build and days like Arsenal are certainly the ones where we have to learn a great lesson. Players have to do it differently. The message is clear. The basics is running and sprinting and the players have to do it on the field. The way we approached the Arsenal game in the first half was not correct.
“Was it tired? No. Did the players lack character against Arsenal? They did and they know it. The first half we missed. The second half we didn’t, to be fair.
“I am not going to generalize that this is the case because it is not. But against Arsenal we did it and football will punish you if you show up and you have that kind of lack of basics in your game. “
Lampard’s tone was fraught with frustration because he knows how talented he has on his team. With that said, he accepts that with some young players, some of whom are new to the league, there will always be bumps along the way.
“When you lose a few games, things get a lot more difficult and the only way out of that is to fight and work hard,” Lampard said. “That is what I am going to instill in the players. It’s about getting the good basics back. You have to keep hitting them day after day. The losses we had recently are due to our going down. It’s my job to get it back. “
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