Frank Lampard was pleased with the spirit and character his side showed despite Liverpool leaving Stamford Bridge with all three Premier League points on Sunday evening.
Sadio Mane’s brace early in the second half proved Chelsea’s undoing after Andreas Christensen had been shown a red card right before half-time, although Jorginho did also miss a penalty that might have inspired an unlikely comeback.
After the game, Lampard reflected on a positive first 45 minutes, key moments that changed the contest and his selection decisions in different areas of the team.
‘There were a lot of things I was happy about with our defensive game,’ said the boss. ‘I wanted us to be better on the ball. We showed moments on the counter-attack where we were dangerous, Timo [Werner] had a couple of good opportunities but to limit them to the chances they got in the first half, there were a lot of things I was pleased about.
‘I’m disappointed to lose three points as you always will and should be but I’m actually happier today in many ways than I was at Brighton. I saw spirit, desire to defend by a lot of our defenders – Reece James, Kurt Zouma, Fikayo Tomori when he came on.
‘The midfield were giving everything to block gaps and you play half a game with 10 men, you don’t make that mistake for the second goal, you score the penalty – then it’s 1-1. I know that’s not football and I can’t reflect on that but those are the realities. The players should take heart, it’s how we go forward from here now.’
Frank felt Christensen’s red card was a decision that could have gone either way…
‘It’s not a definite one – they can get given or not. Once the yellow is the first decision, you feel it needs to be absolutely critical that it’s a red to make that difference and I’m not sure it was. I’m not going to sit here and complain too much but it was one I felt could be given or not.
‘My team talk at half-time was to be more confident on the ball because we had little moments where we received it in midfield and got our full-backs in the game. That’s how we needed to carry on going forward but then the red card changes the whole team talk.’
Kepa gave the ball away for the second goal and Lampard insisted his keeper needed to regain confidence…
‘My job is to try and give him confidence because a goalkeeper absolutely relies on confidence. It’s a clear mistake that’s cost us and Kepa has accepted that as he should do – he holds his hands up. We have to be a group and accept that with joint responsibility because these things do happen but it’s obviously a clear mistake. He has to keep working and have support around him.
‘I can say now that Willy Caballero will play and that was always my feeling to play him in the game on Wednesday [against Barnsley in the Carabao Cup] regardless of today so I don’t want people to make judgements on that.’
Werner did not score but won the penalty in the second half and had another positive game…
‘I’m very pleased with his start. We brought him to the club for the attributes that we’re seeing – speed, individual moments and we will see goals from him. In the second half it was difficult for him but he came up with a moment that could have got us back into the game. I’m delighted with him and we’re going to see a lot more.’
Lampard was also asked about his choices at centre-back…
‘We now have five centre-halves at the club and I can’t pick a squad that has three of them on the bench so that’s the way it is. I have to pick the squad from training and different situations and that was a selection one today.
‘I went with Tomori [as a substitute] and he did really well when he came on. He hasn’t played for a while and has been struggling with fitness like most of the squad but I was delighted with him. He started last season as the fifth-choice centre-back in most people’s eyes and played more than 20 games for Chelsea so I hope he feels the trust in him.’
The boss finished by discussing where the team are at after a very brief pre-season…
‘Normally with new faces, you get a month or so of pre-season to work on your patterns of play and how you want to play so we have to have time. Every team that is successful in the modern day has had time and a process so now our process starts here.
‘Last year was a squad where we couldn’t do much business so we worked and worked to come fourth. Now it’s a new start – our objectives are higher, our expectations are higher and that’s fine. It will take some time but today I saw a lot of character and spirit.