Chelsea are “far from a crisis” and talk of speculation regarding Frank Lampard’s long-term future at Stamford Bridge is far too premature, insists former midfielder Andy Townsend.
The Blues have only won one of their past five Premier League matches, suffering three defeats in that time, after drawing 1-1 with Dean Smith’s in-form Aston Villa on Monday night as Anwar El Ghazi cancelled out Olivier Giroud’s header.
That result means if Liverpool beat Newcastle at St James’ Park on Wednesday, Chelsea could slip nine points behind the league leaders after 16 matches.
Heading into the clash with Villa, shock reports from Germany – the same outlet that broke the news of Paris Saint-Germain sacking Thomas Tuchel – suggested Lampard could be sacked if the Villans were to win last night.
The report suggested Tuchel, sacked by PSG on Christmas Eve, is seen as an option should Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich opt to part ways with Lampard.
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The club legend, Chelsea’s all-time top goalscorer, spent nearly £250million in the summer transfer window in the hope of bridging the gap to Liverpool and Manchester City at the summit of the table.
But their current rut has undermined the progress made by the Londoners, who had looked as though they had established themselves as major title contenders in recent weeks.
Yet Amazon Prime pundit Townsend, who spent three years as a player at Chelsea between 1990 and 1993 and made over 100 appearances, insists the Blues are not in any real mess.
Lampard’s side produced a much improved performance against Villa despite failing to win, having been well beaten by rivals Arsenal at the Emirates just 48 hours earlier.
And after the Chelsea boss reflected that his side simply are not getting “the rub of the green” at the minute, Townsend declared: “I think when Chelsea were having good spells a few weeks ago, they were able to get in front and create substantial leads in various games.
“As Frank said there, there’s a little bit missing at the moment. It’s not serious. It’s far from a crisis despite the fact that their current form isn’t great.
“The team showed today there’s a very competitive spirit in the camp, they’re capable of creating chances.
“I thought [Christian] Pulisic played very well again for them, looked very dangerous when he gets the ball at his feet. There’s still a lot to look forward to in 2021 if you’re a Chelsea fan.”
Townsend added: “It was a brave call to make so many changes in the backline against a team that’s confident, a dangerous Villa team.
“It would have been interesting, if Frank had have known a little bit more about the Man City game [this weekend] potentially being postponed, would that have altered his mindset a little bit when thinking about selecting this team? Perhaps it might have.
“They had chances, great strike from [Ben] Chilwell, Timo Werner had a chance on his right side when he came on. It wasn’t like they were blunt, they created some good situations but just couldn’t convert it.”
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Speaking post-match when asked if he felt he’d seen a positive response from the loss to Arsenal, Lampard declared: “Yeah, I did definitely in performance. We started really well, Villa had some moments, we dealt with them in the first half.
“We came through the first half really well and get a goal that we deserved. Second half, we concede when we’ve got a man on the floor. That’s kind of the run we’re in at the minute.
“And then we pushed, we pushed and we couldn’t break the deadlock in the end to get the win. But attitude-wise, effort-wise, some of the play was really good against a good team.
“A lot of our play was really good. When you’re in a bit of a tough moment, sometimes things don’t quite go for you. A month ago, probably we win that game. Things go for you with a little bit of belief.
“Now it’s a tough little moment, so you have to fight through it. But I can’t ask for more from what the players gave, the way they worked.
“All the players, nobody let me down tonight. Everyone worked after playing two days ago in what was a tough match for us. The attitude was great, we just didn’t quite get the rub of the green in a way.”
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