Lam­pard shuf­fles pack and comes up trumps with a win­ner in Barkley

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport - By Matt Law

No won­der it was Chelsea and Frank Lam­pard who had cam­paigned for nine sub­sti­tutes to be al­lowed on the bench when foot­ball restarted af­ter the shut­down.

And, ac­cord­ing to Lam­pard, he would have used all nine if al­lowed fol­low­ing what he claimed was Chelsea’s worst 45 min­utes of the sea­son. But a tre­ble change at half­time proved to be enough as, for the sec­ond time in Chelsea’s three games since the restart, Lam­pard used his bench to dev­as­tat­ing ef­fect to guide his team into the semi­fi­nals of the FA Cup.

A week ear­lier, it had been Chris­tian Pulisic who stepped off the bench to score against As­ton Villa, and at the King Power Sta­dium it was Ross Barkley who changed the game. Barkley was one of the three sub­sti­tu­tions as Lam­pard hooked Ma­son Mount, Billy Gil­mour and Reece James, and gave his team a half-time rocket.

“I don’t think we have played that badly this sea­son for 45 min­utes,” said Lam­pard. “We have played bet­ter than that and lost. We were lucky not to be los­ing at half­time. There were a few words. The first half was not what we are used to in terms of our per­for­mance. We lacked ur­gency and in­ten­sity. I made three subs, but it could have been seven or eight, and dif­fer­ent subs. But I made the changes I did for im­pact and per­son­al­ity, and we turned it around.”

Lam­pard had con­sol­ing words

Im­pact: Ross Barkley made a big dif­fer­ence from the bench again with the win­ning goal for Mount, Gil­mour and James. “I could have made dif­fer­ent changes. They will be top play­ers for this club no mat­ter what,” said Lam­pard.

Bren­dan Rodgers will know his Le­ices­ter team should have put the vis­i­tors away in the first half and must now make sure they cling on to Cham­pi­ons League qual­i­fi­ca­tion, hav­ing yet to win since the restart.

Jamie Vardy missed a good chance and the fact Le­ices­ter have scored only one goal on their re­turn is clearly an area of con­cern. An­other worry are re­ports that the city could face a lo­calised lock­down due to the number of coro­n­avirus cases. Premier League clubs can use neu­tral venues if they have to and Rodgers said: “As a club, we’re very much still in a bub­ble. The play­ers are tested twice a week. A lot of them don’t live in the cen­tral Le­ices­ter area. You are al­ways con­cerned but we are in a position here where we’re very much pro­tected, so that gives you the con­fi­dence to con­tinue with your work.”

The way in which Lam­pard coached his team through the firsthalf drinks break un­der­lined the slow and sloppy start Chelsea made.

The break came at just the right time for Chelsea, who had only threat­ened through in-form Pulisic at that point. But for all their slight im­prove­ment af­ter the drinks break, Chelsea sur­vived two let-offs just be­fore the in­ter­val.

First, Vardy pulled a shot wide and then the striker saw a header de­flected out of play. Lam­pard clearly was not in the mood to see if things im­proved af­ter the break, as he made his tre­ble sub­sti­tu­tion by send­ing on Barkley, Ma­teo Ko­vacic and Ce­sar Azpilicuet­a. Chelsea im­me­di­ately upped the pace and Tammy Abra­ham had the ball in the net in the 55th minute, fol­low­ing a smart Pulisic pass, but he was cor­rectly judged to have been off­side.

Rodgers made a cou­ple of changes of his own in re­sponse to Chelsea’s im­prove­ment, with Marc Al­brighton and Hamza Choud­hury of­fer­ing fresh legs, but it was Barkley who opened the scor­ing.

It was in the 63rd minute that Wil­lian swapped passes with Azpilicuet­a be­fore de­liv­er­ing a teas­ing cross that Barkley was able to side­foot vol­ley past Kasper Sch­me­ichel for his third FA Cup goal of the sea­son. Barkley should have added a sec­ond to kill the tie, but Lam­pard has been de­lighted with the mid­fielder’s form.

“His at­ti­tude has been spot on and he was un­lucky not to start against Villa, but he made an im­pact in that game and has im­pacted the next two games as well,” he said. “I’ve got lots of time for Ross, he is a big player for us.”

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