Lampard: Pulisic can reach ‘top level of world football’

Leave a comment

There haven’t been goals or assists coming from Christian Pulisic the past couple of matches, but Frank Lampard keeps getting asked about his playmaker.

Pulisic was tidy and solid again in Wednesday’s 2-1 defeat of Aston Villa, strong in possession and oh-so-good in tight spaces. It had the media asking the manager about his American youngster.

[ RECAP: Chelsea 2-1 Aston Villa ]

“Really impressed,” Lampard said, via Football.London. “I think he is playing really well. Since he came into the team, at Burnley got those goals and carried on with his form. He can score more but we’ve got a player in Christian that is really exciting and when you see this type of player in the modern day and you see their quality.

“He has got the ability to go on to the extra level, which is the top level of world football. At the minute he is doing really well and I hope he keeps that up.”

Chelsea’s “Captain America” went 85 minutes in the win, subbing off for Callum Hudson-Odoi. Pulisic forced a save out of Heaton that Abraham couldn’t finish, and nearly cashed in on a free kick rebound in tight.

He finished an 88 percent passer with five shots (three blocked, one on target), winning 10 of 18 duels and making one tackle.

On the season, Pulisic has six goals and six assists in 17 appearances. He’s one goal behind his single-season best, set last season at Borussia Dortmund, and needs seven assists to match his 2016/17 highs with the Bundesliga outfit.

You’d bet on him to get there.

Chelsea too much for scrappy Aston Villa

Leave a comment

Tammy Abraham and Mason Mount helped Chelsea snap a 3-match winless run with a 2-1 defeat of Aston Villa on Wednesday at Stamford Bridge.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

The Blues improve to 29 points, six better than fifth place Wolves. They out shot the visitors 25-9, putting nine shots on target.

Trezeguet scored in the losing effort for 15th place Villa, who makes three teams just a point above the Bottom Three.

Three things we learned

1. Chelsea’s dormant Mount erupts: It had been a while since the Blues’ youngster scored, but Mount made it count. Aston Villa allowed Willian ages on the right side of the 18, and the Brazilian’s cross to Abraham wound up with Mount. He tore into the shot for his fourth goal of the year.

2. Villa finds its level: Dean Smith‘s men have the quality to stay up in their first season back in the Premier League, and are definitely more talented than many of the sides in the relegation mix. But they are now 1D-5L in their first meetings with the “Big Six.” It’s commendable that the Villans already look a mid-table side, to be sure, but that extra something special isn’t there against the top clubs.

3. Pulisic Watch: Chelsea’s “Captain America” went 85 minutes in the win, subbing off for Callum Hudson-Odoi. He wasn’t a part of the goals, but was again tidy in tight spaces and a good part of Chelsea’s possession. Pulisic forced a save out of Heaton that Abraham couldn’t finish, and nearly cashed in on a free kick rebound in tight. He finished an 88 percent passer with five shots (three blocked, one on target), winning 10 of 18 duels and making one tackle.

Man of the Match:

Chelsea was lively early, with Mason Mount getting two chances before Abraham put the Blues on the board.

Reece James whipped in a cross that Abraham headed over Tom Heaton, the ex-Villa loanee neglecting a celebration for his 11th of the season.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Mount put Chelsea ahead after the break, his first in seven league matches, when Abraham trapped Willian’s cross and Mount was there to take in the spoils.

Heaton denied Willian’s free kick near the 80th minute, and Pulisic couldn’t quite win the race to a rebound chance.

Lampard expects final decision on Chelsea transfer ban ‘very soon’

Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images
1 Comment

Frank Lampard believes that he will find out “very soon” whether or not Chelsea’s two-window transfer ban is upheld or lifted ahead of the January transfer window.

[ MORE: Agents made $650 million from player transfers in 2019 ]

Chelsea were given the ban for breaching rules around signing young players and elected not to appeal the punishment, at least initially. After accepting the ban for the summer transfer window, the Blues launched their appeal with an eye toward having it lifted in time to bolster their squad with a few mid-season signings.

Their case was heard by the Court of Arbitration for Sport last month, leading Lampard to believe that a final decision is imminent — quotes from the BBC:

“Very soon, I believe. Days, I think. I haven’t heard anymore, so I would wait and reserve judgment [on Chelsea’s plans for January] until we get the judgment and see where we want to go from there.”

Through 14 games, Chelsea sit fourth in the Premier League and currently hold a six point-advantage on their closest “big-six” rivals, Tottenham Hotspur. They have lost back-to-back PL games for the first time all season and the squad was always going to be bordering on the edge of “too thin” or “too young” to survive 38 league games as well as Champions League and the domestic cups.

If Chelsea’s ban is lifted before January, which areas of the squad should they look the strengthen immediately?

Transfer rumor roundup: Berge to Liverpool, Giroud to Milan

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Liverpool have been linked with a January move for Sander Berge from Genk, as Norwegian outlets VG report he is also being monitored by Chelsea and Napoli.

The Norwegian midfielder, 21, is seen as a player who can develop into a top holding midfielder and with Fabinho set for a spell on the sidelines due to ankle ligament damage, it is believed the Premier League leaders are looking to add extra options in defensive midfield.

Even if Fabinho comes back quicker than expected the Reds still look short in holding midfield as James Milner, Jordan Henderson, Georginio Wijnaldum and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are all more comfortable playing in more advanced midfield roles.

Long-term this move would make sense, but short-term it doesn’t much that much sense. Fabinho will be back in the team in early 2020 and Liverpool have enough in midfield to cope without him. Berge has obviously impressed Liverpool with his displays against them in the UEFA Champions League this season and he’s a very similar player to Fabinho.

Chelsea striker Olivier Giroud has been linked with a January move to AC Milan as the Frenchman has seen his playing time with the Blues severely limited this season.

According to the Daily Mail, Giroud is set for talks with Chelsea about his future and is keen to move in January. Italian outlet Calcio Mercato believe AC Milan and Inter Milan have been offered the chance to sign Giroud for a small fee ahead of his contract expiring at Chelsea in the summer.

Giroud, 33, is still a regular for France but has lost his place in the Chelsea team to Tammy Abraham and Michy Batshuayi has been the go-to man off the bench for Frank Lampard this season. Giroud made his first PL start at the weekend but failed to impress as Chelsea lost 1-0 at home to West Ham.

AC Milan are said to be close to re-signing free agent Zlatan Ibrahimovic, so that could complicate any move for Giroud. He was crucial in Chelsea’s Europa League success last season but he only scored five PL goals for the Blues since arriving from Arsenal in January 2018 and it is clear he doesn’t fit into Lampard’s plans.

Chelsea’s manager wants a mobile striker and Abraham provides that. Giroud is still a fine finisher and in the right team he’d been a great pick up in January.

Lampard: Chelsea loss ‘time to look for a bit of character’

Leave a comment

Chelsea manager Frank Lampard said his side was “below par” in a 1-0 home loss to West Ham, but he isn’t looking for the panic button.

The Blues lost their second-straight league match and are winless in three across all competitions, but ran into a strong debutant keeper in 33-year-old David Martin.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

These things happen across a Premier League season, Lampard says, and he’s not panicking as his fourth-placed Blues fell 14 points behind leaders Liverpool. From Football.London:

“Generally, collectively we could have handled that game better. This isn’t the worst thing for us as long as we react in the right way. There will be moments like this. We weren’t going to be Invincibles, we have to pass little tests. We can do more going forward.”

Lampard says his team is going to turn it around, and that he’ll learn more about his players’ mettle over the coming days and weeks.

Chelsea meets Aston Villa, Everton, and Bournemouth in league play before meeting old pal Jose Mourinho and Tottenham Hotspur on Boxing Day.

“I still believe in the squad. That will be questions that will be asked. I do believe in the squad. There isn’t a time for harsh reactions or judgements. It is a look for a bit of character.”