Olivier Giroud

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Premier League Friendly Roundup: Chelsea, Man United win

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A handful of Premier League teams were in action on Saturday as preseason training ramps up. While many clubs are on the way to East Asia and North America, those who weren’t took part in a few matches in Europe.

The headliner was Chelsea topping St. Patrick’s Athletic, 4-0, at Richmond Park in Dublin. Olivier Giroud scored a brace, while Mason Mount and Emerson added goals as well.

It was Chelsea’s second game of the preseason and second under the watchful eye of Frank Lampard. Chelsea made wholesale changes at halftime, as all 22 players who took part each played just 45 minutes as the team grows in match fitness.

[READ: Transfer Rumor Roundup]

Earlier in the day, in Australia, Manchester United defeated Perth Glory, 2-0, with goals from Marcus Rashford and James Garner. Read more about it on PST.

Elsewhere, Brighton defeated FC Liefering while in Austria, 5-2. Lewis Dunk, the immortal Glenn Murray, Jurgen Locadia, Leandro Trossard and Florin Andone all scored for the Premier League side. Brighton’s Graham Potter also made 11 changes at halftime, giving everyone a chance to make a good impression in front of him.

Five things Lampard should focus on at Chelsea

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Frank Lampard has returned home to take charge of Chelsea, but what should be his top priorities at Stamford Bridge?

Super Frank no doubt has a longggg to-do list…

Lampard, 41, knows he will be given a little extra time compared to most given his legendary status as their all-time leading goalscorer and winning every trophy possible during his glittering 13-year career in west London.

But he must hit the ground running at his former club as Chelsea negotiate a 12-month transfer ban, the loss of Eden Hazard and all the while try to challenge for trophies domestically and in Europe, while at the very least finish in the Premier League’s top four.

Here’s a look at what Lampard should focus on.


Use club legend status sparingly

Lampard is called Super Frank by everyone connected with Chelsea for a reason. He won every major trophy possible during his incredible career at Stamford Bridge and nobody has scored more goals than him in the famous blue shirt.

He knows that he can’t rely on his legendary status as a player. And he shouldn’t if he wants to be successful.

“My playing career is over. I am now in a position to work really hard to be successful in,” Lampard said. “I don’t want to take credit for my playing career. It should last five minutes. I should be judged on what I do here going forward.”

That is the correct way to approach this. At times Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been a little too keen to bring up past achievements at United and relate them to his current role as the head coach. Lampard shouldn’t make that same mistake. His legendary status at Chelsea will be intact however his stint as manager turns out, but he must be careful to not harp on about the glory years too much.


Replace Hazard’s influence

Lampard has said it will be a team approach in replacing Hazard’s goals and assists, as the Belgian star departed for Real Madrid earlier this summer.

Willian, Pedro, Christian Pulisic, Ross Barkley, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Callum Hudson-Odoi will be tasked with creating and scoring more goals, while Olivier Giroud and Tammy Abraham will both be key as the central striker to making this Hazard-less Chelsea attack tick. That is the right approach to take for Chelsea. Hazard scored 16 times in the PL last season, but Willian and Pedro scored just 11 PL goals combined. They have to do better, and others have to step up too.

Chelsea’s new manager was right to state that losing Hazard is a blow but he didn’t seem overly bothered about something that happened when he wasn’t at the club and he couldn’t control. Let’s hope Lampard doesn’t start rolling out the ‘well, we lost Hazard over the summer’ line when Chelsea have a few poor results in December…


Promote youth team players sensibly

There is a strong feeling that Lampard will usher in plenty of young players right away, but that could be a bad move.

Chelsea still have a lot of very talented experience players. N’Golo Kante, David Luiz, Cesar Azpilicueta and Willian are key members of this squad and it should remain that way. But under Lampard the likes of Mason Mount, Loftus-Cheek, Hudson-Odoi, Abraham and Fikayo Tomori will all be given chances to develop into first team players.

“Part of my job now is to develop the great young players we have here,” Lampard has noted.

But he knows that he needs his entire squad, many of whom he played with like Luiz, Azpilicueta and Willian, to buy-in to what he’s doing right away if this is going to go well in Year One.

“I want players that whether you are 18 years of age or 32 years of age, you feel like Chelsea is your club,” Lampard said. “My idea is to work with the best squad and to get the most out of them and be as competitive as we can be.”

Promoting youngsters for the sake of it helps nobody. Doing it sensibly while still being brave enough to chuck them in at the deep end must be Lampard’s mindset. He knows that his squad will be stretched to the limits and youngsters will play a big role this season, even if they don’t play the starring roles many expect.


Be strong enough to implement his philosophy

Lampard has played with some of the players he now manages and that does create an odd dynamic.

It is something which could get in the way of him being brave enough to stamp his authority on the dressing room. Yes, what he has achieved as a player will earn him plenty of respect from Chelsea’s squad but after a few poor results we will see what kind of character he is as a head coach. And we all know Chelsea’s dressing room is extremely strong when it comes to trying to impact the future of a manager.

With the experience of just one year as a manager, Lampard has to be strong enough to stand his ground and stick to his playing philosophy, as he did at Derby with a flexible 4-3-3 or 4-4-2 with a midfield diamond formations.

Asked during his opening press conference about his relative inexperience in management, Lampard gave a quite brilliant answer.

“I presumed that question would come quite early,” Lampard said. “I thought about it a lot. It’s an obvious question and I understand. In one year in management, you get the Chelsea job which doesn’t come around very often. Football is littered with stories of inexperienced managers who do spectacularly well and some who don’t, as well as experienced managers who do well or don’t. What I do believe in is that I played under a lot of fantastic managers and tried to glean whatever I could from them, and that stands me in good stead. I know a lot about this club but I have to prove it. I believe in myself and I have to show I am ready to manage this club. Be it with one year experience or 10 years of experience.”


Keep expectations realistic

Lampard said Chelsea should be “there or thereabouts” in terms of winning the Premier League title and although he says the board haven’t set a minimum target of finishing in the top four, he knows that it is expected.

Keeping realism is key for Lampard this season.

“There are variables, we know about the transfer ban and that Man City and Liverpool pulled away last year. We all have to be realistic about that,” Lampard said. “We should never stop trying to be there, as Chelsea, we are working to try to be there. It is important we start this season competitive and wanting to win.”

At Chelsea it has always been important to be successful and win trophies, and even if you are able to do that it wouldn’t guarantee you a long-term job.

With other factors impacting Lampard’s first few years in charge, he will get a little extra leeway. Even if he doesn’t want it.

“I am a realist. The last thing I want to do is ask for any favors going into something,” Lampard said. “As a manager you understand very quickly that you have to be successful.”

Derby County confirms Chelsea approach for Frank Lampard

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Derby County has confirmed that Chelsea has been given permission to speak with Frank Lampard about their open managerial position.

The club did not elaborate on specifics of the potential transaction, but according to reports, Chelsea would likely have to pay Derby County around $5 million to buy out Lampard’s current contract.

:With pre-season fast approaching for both clubs it is hoped this will allow Chelsea to swiftly conclude their discussions,” Derby County wrote in their short official statement. “The club will make no further comment until it is appropriate to do so.”

Lampard has just one season of managerial experience under his belt, leading Derby County to the Championship playoff final before falling to Aston Villa and narrowly missing out on promotion.

As a player, Lampard spent 13 seasons at Stamford Bridge, arriving from West Ham in 2001 and remaining through 2013 before his departure to Manchester City. Lampard racked up 423 appearances for the Blues, scoring 147 goals and leading the club to three Premier League titles plus the 2012 Champions League title.

The 41-year-old is looking close to replacing Maurizio Sarri who officially departed just days ago to return to his home country and take charge of Juventus. Sarri spent just one season at Chelsea and led them to a third place finish in the Premier League table plus the Europa League title which they won over fellow Premier League side Arsenal.

Lampard will face plenty of challenges out of the gates should he take the position. Chelsea will be facing a transfer ban this summer after the decision by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, a hard truth that will hamper his ability to boost the squad before his first season in charge. Lampard will also need to sort out the Chelsea midfield, which Sarri leaves in somewhat disarray after having moved N’Golo Kante from his defensive midfield position and instilled Jorginho in that spot to mixed results last season. Finally, Chelsea needs to sort out its striker position, with Gonzalo Higuain struggling mightily since joining in January, and while Olivier Giroud looked prolific in Europa League play, he is still staring down his 33rd birthday and has not been able to gain a stranglehold over the starting spot in league play.

Euro 2020 qualifying: Turkey stuns France, Finland earns upset, Croatia tops Wales

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A few landmark results have begun to shape Euro 2020 qualifying in round three of the cycle.

Here is a rundown of all the results:

Turkey 2-0 France

The shock of the day came from Konya as first-half goals by Kaan Ayhan and Cengiz Under thwarted the reigning World Cup champs and put Turkey alone atop Group H. The France lineup that featured Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann, Paul Pogba, and Olivier Giroud fell completely flat, somehow held without a single shot on target on just four total efforts in a massively disappointing performance, although France remained in a solid position sitting second in the group.

Finland 2-0 Bosnia & Herzegovina

Another surprising result came in Tammerfors as Finland got a brace from Norwich City striker Teemu Pukki to pull into a solid position near the top of Group J. Bosnia will rue missed opportunities, only able to put one of its 11 shots on target, with Edin Dzeko missing a glorious opportunity with 13 minutes to go, heading over the bar on a chance he normally puts away. Bosnia & Herzegovina felt the absence of creative force Miralem Pjanic as he was suspended for a straight red card against Greece.

Croatia 2-1 Wales

The visitors put up a solid fight in Osijek, but Croatia was clinical where Wales was not as Ivan Perisic scored the decider after a Jamie Lawrence own-goal put the hosts in front. Bournemouth attacker David Brooks came off the bench to pull Wales a goal back and give them a chance, but otherwise the visitors were wasteful with six shots on target.

Belarus 0-2 Germany

Leroy Sane put Germany in front 12 minutes in and they never looked back, confirming the victory on a Marco Reus strike past the hour mark to keep pace with Northern Ireland in Group C. Sane bagged his fourth goal in his last five international appearances, while Reus finished off a beautiful ball into the box by Matthias Ginter that evaded a host of defenders on its way to the goalscorer. While the scoreline may not have reflected it, Germany dominated the game with 75% possession and a 783-214 passing advantage.

Belgium 3-0 Kazakhstan

Dries Mertens and Timothy Castagne both scored inside the opening 15 minutes, while Romelu Lukaku capped things off just after halftime as Belgium rolled in Brussels. The strong Belgian lineup was far too much at home, holding 70% possession and competing a massive 829 passes to Kazakhstan’s 311, racking up 13 corners and an enormous 12 shots on target out of 27 total efforts.

Greece 0-3 Italy

The visitors bagged a quickfire trio of goals through the middle of the first-half as Nicolo Barella, Lorenzo Insigne, and Leonardo Bonucci all found the back of the net before the break to stun Greece in Athens. Insigne’s was silky as the Napoli attacker skipped past a defender down the left flank, carrying the ball into the top corner of the box and unleashing a pinpoint curler that found the inside of the side netting.

It was a dominating performance by Italy, holding 70% possession and out-passing Greece a whopping 685-253, out-shooting the hosts 16-5 and cruising through the second half under little pressure.

Scotland 2-1 Cyprus

Scotland survived a scare in Glasgow, requiring an 89th minute Oliver Burke winner to take down island nation Cyprus. The 22-year-old scored his first international goal at the most opportune time, breaking the deadlock late to keep pace with Belgium and Russia near the top of Group I. Andy Robertson, fresh off his Champions League title, scored the opener on an absolute thunderbolt from outside the box, but he was cancelled out by Giannis Kousoulos in the 87th minute.

Iceland 1-0 Albania

Johann Berg Gudmundsson scored the game’s only goal 22 minutes in as Iceland downed a pesky Albania side in Reykjavik. Albania earned seven corners to Iceland’s 1, but couldn’t find the back of the net as they forced Iceland goalkeeper Hannes Halldorsson into just two saves the whole way.

Russia 9-0 San Marino

Zenit St. Petersburg striker Artem Dyzuba scored four as Russia blasted hapless San Marino in Saransk, with two more from Fedor Smolov. The win jumps Russia past Belgium into first in Group I with two wins out of its first three qualifiers.

Estonia 1-2 Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland needed a late comeback to top Estonia on the road as Sheffield United striker Connor Washington leveled the score in the 77th minute and Josh Magennis provided the winner three minutes later. Both players came off the bench to score, with Bolton striker Magennis skillfully turning a Jordan Jones cross in under heavy pressure in front of net. Estonia was up for the task for much of the game, with Konstantin Vassiljev’s 25th minute goal providing the tally that Northern Ireland just inched around to climb atop Group C with three wins from three.

Azerbaijan 1-3 Hungary

Hungary moved to the top of Group E after a dominating performance in Baku led by a brace from RB Leipzig defender Willi Orban.

Moldova 1-0 Andorra

Moldova survived nearly half the match a man down as the hosts earned their first points of Euro 2020 qualification behind an eighth-minute goal from 31-year-old defender Igor Armas which they protected the rest of the way. Despite just 35% possession, Andorra ripped off 12 shots, but only found the target with one in the loss.

Armenia 3-0 Lichtenstein

Griezmann, Lemar on target as France warms up for Euro qualifiers

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Antoine Griezmann and Thomas Lemar found the back of the net as France topped Bolivia 2-0 in a pre-UEFA qualification friendly in Nantes.

Didier Deschamps put forth a strong starting lineup that included both first-choice central defenders Samuel Umtiti and Raphael Varane that held Bolivia to just one shot on target. Also in the mix from the opening whistle were Paul Pogba, Kylian Mbappe, and Benjamin Pavard. Mbappe came off at halftime,

Lemar was first to strike, just five minutes in as France caught the visitors with an extremely high defensive line. Griezmann broke down the middle and switched play to Lemar on the left who was left unmarked. The ball wasn’t settled properly and bobbled, but Lemar was able to get a highly skillful looping shot off that chipped both a tracking defender and the charging Bolivian goalkeeper Carlos Lampe.

Just before halftime, France doubled the lead with a messy goal off a corner that Bolivia failed to clear and Griezmann pounced on the edge of the six-yard box to poke the ball home.

France racked up 18 shots with 10 on target, holding 66% possession in a dominating performance that saw the hosts hold 70% of the ball in the second half, although the final 45 minutes were punctuated by constant substitutions, often a case in warm-up friendlies. Kingsley Coman was especially dangerous during his 24 minutes off the bench, on to replace Lemar.

Players to come off the bench for France included Coman, Blaise Matuidi, and Wissam Ben Yedder while Olivier Giroud, N'Golo Kante, and Clement Lenglet were left unused on the bench.