Lampard latest on absent duo, working in a positive direction and Pulisic’s progression

Hakim Ziyech received plenty of plaudits for his performance in Russia…

‘He was really good last night, especially considering it was his first start in months. When we brought Hakim into the club it was because I’d watched him a lot and we’d played against them [Ajax] the year before so I knew his qualities.

‘He’s a winger that gives us real width but also gives us the clever movements when he comes off the line. He can really produce important assist passes or break-the-line passes which he takes on that maybe other players don’t so he brings us something certainly different to what we have in terms of style.’

There was talk about whether Lampard felt his side were at the stage he expected at this moment in the season…

‘When I came in, the circumstances were very particular so you have to take each situation at face value and try to deal with it. I thought last year everybody at the club dealt with it very well because it was a successful season to finish in the top four and now we find ourselves in a different position, with different players and the onus is on us to work as hard as we can to find a balance and move forward.

‘We’re working in a really positive direction. I keep talking about the need for patience and hard work during this period because I understood early in this season that there would be some difficulties in trying to compete in this unforgiving Premier League with new players, some of them having never played in this league before. The signs I see game after game and week after week, there are a lot of positives.’

Lampard was also asked about recent comments made by RB Salzburg manager Jesse Marsch regarding Christian Pulisic…

‘I did read the comments and I was surprised that Jesse had managed to read my mind as well as he thought he did. He’s recounted the conversation wrong so I have to put it correct. It was a game against Salzburg in pre-season where Christian scored two goals and I spoke to Jesse after about what a talented player he was and how exciting it was to see how he could develop for us with the talent he has. That was the conversation and Jesse managed to put it across slightly differently.

‘I played in America for 18 months and I would never underestimate the desire that American players have to learn and improve and take on information and understand the technical side of the game. When you have that, which Christian has, along with incredible talent, it was never in doubt for me.

‘It’s clearly the toughest league in the world to come and play in at a young age from a different league. Some of the greatest players in Premier League history have felt that. What Christian did was find his feet very quickly and have a breakthrough season where he produced more goals and assists than he has done before so I thought his performance last season was massively impressive and he will keep getting better and I never doubted it in the first place. As a manager, I never doubted him and it’s important for me to put that straight.’