LAMPS STILL A LEADING LIGHT FOR VILLAS-BOAS
VALENCIA v CHELSEA Champions League – Tonight, ITV1, 7.45pm
ANDRE VILLAS-BOAS last night hit out at Frank Lampard’s knockers, insisting the midfielder remained one of the club’s most important players.
The Chelsea boss said he is fed up of answering questions about Lampard’s future, which has been the subject of speculation after he started three of the last four games on the bench and was hauled off in the other.
That has provided further ammunition to those who claim Lampard’s powers are on the wane after the 33-year-old lost his place in the England side earlier this month.
The man who once set a Premier League record for consecutive outfield appearances has been rested lately, either as part of a squad rotation policy or to preserve his ageing legs for the bigger games.
That should mean he starts tonight’s Group E clash but, if he doesn’t, speculation about his future will reach fever pitch.
Villas-Boas refused to confirm if Lampard would play but insisted that conclusion would be totally unjustified.
He branded most questions about Lamps as “negative”, adding: “I think I’ve answered that question enough.
“We all see things in the dressing room as team objectives and collective objectives, nothing else.”
Villas-Boas was left fuming after Chelsea’s preparations were thrown into chaos.
The Blues were forced to change planes and touched down four hours late after leaving London.
That meant VillasBoas was forced to reorganise his training schedules before the second group game.
Saturday’s win over Swansea confirmed the Blues are bang in form going into their Euro- pean clash and Lamps reckons Juan Mata has transformed them this season.
Mata faces his former club just weeks after he left for Stamford Bridge in a £24.5 million move.
The arrival of the playmaker has already helped fellow Spaniard Fernando Torres to recover his scoring form with back-to-back strikes.
And Lamps believes Mata has made the Blues good to watch again – even if it means his own place is now more under threat.
He said: “It is nice to introduce a different sort of player, someone who can flit into the hole and then be out wide again.
“It’s a great thing for the fans to see and a great option if the game is a bit stale. It might create a bit of magic.”
HOT TOPIC: Frank Lampard
GIVE IT A REST: Villas-Boas