‘It was a game that showed me really good things about us and things we needed to improve. I was never going to look past the lessons it gave us as a team but I also felt a real confidence in the work we’d done over pre-season to get us to a point where we could go there with a personality.’
Over a year and 42 league games later, Lampard’s Chelsea return to Manchester with a fresh look, boosted by the arrival of six new faces this summer. The evolving group might need time to gel and click, just as they did last year before finishing fourth and reaching the FA Cup final, but the head coach has a clear picture of the team he wants them to become.
‘Last season was very positive for us because we had an identity as a team that worked very hard off the ball, created a lot of chances, tried to get higher up the pitch and made a lot of steps forward, while also knowing we needed to go further,’ he explained.
Our full November schedule is now:
Chelsea v Rennes – Wednesday 4 November, 8pm – Champions League, live on BT Sport
Chelsea v Sheffield United – Saturday 7 November, 5.30pm – Premier League, live on Sky Sports
Newcastle United v Chelsea – Saturday 21 November, 12.30pm – Premier League, live on BT Sport
Rennes v Chelsea – Tuesday 24 November, 5.55pm – Champions League, live on BT Sport
Chelsea v Tottenham – Sunday 29 November, 4.30pm – Premier League, live on Sky Sports
*All times are UK times
The Blues looked sharp in the session, with our head coach working on a number of exercises and drills with his players before the squad headed north ahead of tomorrow’s 5.30pm kick-off at Old Trafford.
Lampard has confirmed that he has an almost clean bill of health to choose from, with only Kepa Arrizabalaga (shoulder) ruled out of the tie against the Red Devils.
Ben Chilwell, Hakim Ziyech, Christian Pulisic and Thiago Silva are all fine to take their places in the squad, with the game tomorrow kicking off at 5.30pm.
Take a look at some of the best images from today’s training session, as captured through the camera lens of our club photographer…
Defenders Magdalena Eriksson and Jonna Andersson played in Sweden’s empathic 7-0 triumph over Latvia tonight. The Swedes got off to a perfect start in Gothenburg having found the net within 50 seconds of play when Lina Hurtig nodded in Hannah Glas’ cross. By half-time they had a five-goal advantage with the Chelsea captain Eriksson scoring the fourth to earn herself the player of the match award. Andersson managed to get involved with the attacking play by assisting Pauline Hammarland for the fifth goal.
Tonight’s win puts Sweden in a hopeful position to qualify, however, they come up against second place Iceland on Tuesday which will be a must-win fixture for the Swedes.
Pernille Harder and Denmark moved one step closer to sealing a spot at the 2022 Euros last night by beating Israel 4-0. The Chelsea forward got the opening goal of the night in Viborg, Denmark, shortly after the interval when she poked an effort beyond the Israeli keeper. A few minutes later, the Danish captain doubled the lead when she curled a sublime shot from range into the top corner.
An own-goal and a fine header from Juventus midfielder Sofie Junge ensured the Scandinavian side came away with a comfortable win in Group B. Denmark have played eight out of 10 matches and have maximum points so far, with a massive goal difference of +45. Next up Harder and Denmark face an unbeaten Italy side on Tuesday.
‘To be at a club where such great goalkeepers have played is fantastic and very important to me. I am aware of the expectations that surround the goalkeeper position at Chelsea, but I am not going to put any pressure on myself and compare myself to legends here. I have only just arrived so my aim is to carry on progressing and when the coach asks me, to make sure I am there for the team and helping with their success.’
It was six years ago that the current Senegal international, who had begun his professional career at Cherbourg, found himself without a club.
‘If someone had said to me then I would end up at Chelsea, I would not have bothered to look at or listen to them,’ he acknowledged.
‘It was really very difficult because on one hand you have the anger of finding yourself without a club because of the agent I was with, but also the disappointment of not being able to play at the weekend, not being able to do what I love.
‘That is really hard, a year is a very long time for a footballer. Fortunately I could always count on my family and they helped me through that and to bounce back and get to where I am today.
‘When I got the message from my agent at the time, I immediately went back to the club where I trained when I was young, and I was training with the reserves there every morning. In the afternoon I’d go to the gym or with my brother to the pitch to practise shot-stopping.
Chelsea Women begin next month with a visit from Tottenham Hotspur on Tuesday 3 November for our second Continental Tyres League Cup fixture.
Kick-off is at 7pm with the match being shown live on The 5th Stand app, the Chelsea website, Chelsea FC Women’s Facebook page and our official YouTube channel. More information can be found here.
We then welcome Everton to Kingsmeadow on Sunday 8 November for a 12 noon kick-off and you can watch this live on the BBC Red Button.
The following weekend, Chelsea have another big Women’s Super League game against Arsenal and this London derby will take place at the Gunners’ patch with a 2pm kick-off.
The Blues end November with a trip to Kent to face London City Lionesses for our final Conti Cup group stage match. This fixture will be on Wednesday 18 November with a 7.30pm kick-off.
Last Saturday’s clash against Derby County was full of action as Andy Myers’s men ran out 3-2 winners following a flurry of second-half goals. Tino Anjorin opened the scoring but we were soon behind after a quick-fire Derby double.
Forward Bryan Fiabema was then introduced for the final 20 minutes and bagged a late brace to clinch the win and send the young Blues top of the early Premier League 2 standings.
He was travelling back with friends from watching the team play a League Cup game away at Bolton Wanderers when his helicopter crashed. His fellow passengers Ray Deane, Tony Burridge, John Bauldie and Mick Goss also lost their lives.
A supporter from a very young age, Harding got involved with the club he loved more directly in the early 1990s, and his legacy lives on. After playing a significant role in helping to finance the reconstruction of the stand at the north end of the stadium, it was named after him following his passing. Fondly remembered at Stamford Bridge, his name is still sung by supporters.
His financial investment also helped us acquire the likes of Ruud Gullit, Mark Hughes and Roberto Di Matteo, but he tragically died before he could see his beloved Blues win major silverware in the form of the FA Cup.
To find out more about Harding’s life, death and legacy, listen to the podcast below. It is one of five episodes of Blue Days, covering the dramatic 1996/97 campaign. In this episode celebrating Harding, we hear from his children, those who worked closely with him at Stamford Bridge, like Glenn Hoddle and Colin Hutchinson, as well as former players who remember his presence around the club.
Gone, but never forgotten. Rest in peace, Matthew.
‘He’s very happy here,’ added Jorginho. ‘He’s a big personality, a big player, with big experience.
‘He’s helping all of us a lot, the group, the young players, everyone because he has personality. He is helping everyone with what he feels and what he feels is the right thing to say. He is doing very well and we are happy to have him here.’
Thiago Silva’s two most recent appearances have yielded clean sheets for the team, and shoring up defensively remains a key target for Lampard and the coaching staff, as well as the players.
‘We are trying to be a solid team, not conceding goals,’ says Jorginho.
‘Details can make the difference: being aggressive, defending inside the box, how to press, 50/50 balls, not switching off on set plays.
‘We need to be aware all the time and we are trying to do that. We are on the right way.’
‘He is very fit, he is still relatively young, he probably could have carried on playing,’ Lampard continued.
‘He has taken on his role at Chelsea which he does very well, he is very helpful to me and we work very closely. Whether we will see him [playing] much this season I am not sure. It depends on how the season goes and on Covid and isolation, but I certainly felt it was a no-brainer to have Pete in the squad for that reason. It can only help the goalkeepers we have to see one of the world’s best in the modern era amongst us.’
Cech of course won a huge number of honours during his Chelsea playing career spanning 2004 to 2015, including Premier League titles and the Champions League.
‘It is definitely not done for the romance,’ Lampard said of his former team-mate being down as a player once more.
‘Pete certainly enjoys the training because that is how he is. I would enjoy training more if my calves didn’t go tight every time I try to sprint these days. With Pete it [playing] is something I wouldn’t expect to happen this year, but I do know with the way he is and how fit he is that if we were in crisis times then of course we couldn’t ask for something much better than having Petr Cech around. I don’t expect it but nobody expected what we have seen in the last six or seven months around the world.’