Jose Mourinho feels Chelsea's decision to sack Frank Lampard highlights the "brutality" of football.

The Blues ended Lampard's reign after just 18 months on Monday, with former Paris Saint-Germain boss Thomas Tuchel poised to replace him.

Mourinho has had two spells as Chelsea manager, both of which ended mid-season, and is well aware of the pressures at Stamford Bridge.

The Tottenham boss regrets any managerial sackings but felt particularly sad for his former player Lampard.

"I don't think Frank wants to speak to me or with anyone apart from his close circle of family and friends," Mourinho, who turned 58 on Tuesday, told reporters.

"But I am always sad when a colleague loses his job.

"And Frank is not just a colleague - he is an important person in my career - so I feel sorry he did [get sacked].

"But it is the brutality of football, especially modern football so when you become a manager you know that sooner or later it is going to happen to you."

Mourinho was speaking after a late surge gave Tottenham a 4-1 away win over Wycombe Wanderers in the FA Cup.

Spurs are fifth in the Premier League, four points and four places ahead of rivals Chelsea, who have only won eight of their first 19 top-flight games this season.

In a statement after his sacking, Lampard said he was disappointed at being prevented from taking Chelsea to the next level.

But the former Derby County boss expressed pride at the emergence of several academy players during his tenure.

Frank Lampard was left disappointed at being prevented from taking Chelsea to the next level following his sacking but expressed pride at the emergence of several academy players during his tenure.

Lampard was relieved of his duties on Monday following a significant dip in form from a Blues side that had looked poised to challenge for the title earlier in the season.

Having gone top of the table with a win over Leeds United in December, Chelsea have since taken seven points from a possible 24, leaving them 11 behind leaders Manchester United and five off the top four. 

Despite a win over Luton Town in the FA Cup on Sunday, Lampard paid the price for that slump, with Thomas Tuchel expected to replace him.

Lampard pointed to the progress of the likes of Reece James, Mason Mount and Billy Gilmour as one of his top achievements.

"It has been a huge privilege and an honour to manage Chelsea, a club that has been a big part of my life for so long," Lampard said in a statement through the League Managers Association.

"Firstly, I would like to thank the fans for the incredible support that I have received over the last 18 months. I hope they know what that means to me.

"When I took on this role, I understood the challenges that lay ahead in a difficult time for the football club.

"I am proud of the achievements that we made, and I am proud of the academy players that have made their step into the first team and performed so well. They are the future of the club.

"I am disappointed not to have had the time this season to take the club forward and bring it to the next level.

"I want to thank Mr Abramovich, the board, players, my coaching team and everyone at the club for their hard work and dedication, especially in these unprecedented and challenging times.

"I wish the team and the club every success for the future."

Pep Guardiola offered his sympathy to sacked Chelsea head coach Frank Lampard but recognised managers have to win to keep their jobs in the Premier League.

Blues playing great Lampard was dismissed on Monday following a run of just two victories in eight league matches, leaving Chelsea in ninth and 11 points off the top.

A club statement described "a very difficult decision", but owner Roman Abramovich is now set to turn to Thomas Tuchel, who was fired by Paris Saint-Germain last month.

Lampard averaged an underwhelming 1.67 points per game during his tenure and Manchester City counterpart Guardiola knows more is expected.

"Young and old managers, here you have to win," Guardiola said. "When the people talk about projects and ideas, they don't exist. You have to win; if not, you will be sacked.

"Respect for Chelsea, huge hug for Frank. Hopefully I can see him soon; when the lockdown will be over, I can go to a restaurant to see him again."

Asked for his assessment of Lampard's work, Guardiola reiterated: "It depends on the results.

"The way we play, the philosophy, the project... you have to get results. If you don't, you will be replaced by another manager."

But the City boss does wish coaches were given more time - from the media as well as clubs.

"All the managers, we need this," he said. "I'm not judging the decision from Chelsea ,I am not there. Respect in every decision, it has to be this way.

"But sometimes the journalists ask the club to be patient when the journalists don't have patience. We drop one game and we should sack all the managers?

"We try to win as much as possible, but it doesn't happen if you don't have the directors, the board, the owners and CEOs in the same line and you know exactly what the target is.

"Every manager needs time to do what you believe or make the players feel that it doesn't matter what happens, we believe in this, in this idea.

"And that is exceptional; it only happens in a few places around the world because the board, owners, CEOs want results immediately, quick, quick, quick.

"Winning the Premier League in November is better than January and winning in January is better than May. But this doesn't happen.

"It's difficult to talk about the projects in years, because in one month you can drop everything you built. The opponents also have good players, managers, too; you are always at risk to be out."

Guardiola finds himself in a relatively comfortable position at City, though, after a run of 10 straight victories in all competitions eased early-season pressure.

West Brom, up next on Tuesday, were the last team to stop City winning, but Guardiola is not interested in reflecting on how they turned their season around following that 1-1 draw.

"It's difficult to say," he said. "We won the next game in Southampton, one of the turning points. In that moment, Southampton were in incredible form.

"The process was we start to play better, more confident. We saw we were far away from the top of the league, then we get closer, the team eats better, trains better, we get results, successive wins.

"I know always you ask me about the past; what happened happened. I'm not a big fan of this. The next one is always important, like we have done in recent weeks."

Indeed, if City win the next one they will top the table for the first time this season - the ninth different team to reach the summit this term - with rivals Manchester United not in action until Wednesday.

"The leader is United - they are top of the league," Guardiola said. "We'll have all the games, the same games all together, we will see.

"But now we aren't top of the league. The distance is so narrow, but I don't see the table much; I didn't watch it when we were 12th, now it's the same. My focus after Cheltenham is West Bromwich."

Frank Lampard has been sacked as Chelsea head coach after 18 months in charge. 

The Blues great qualified for the Champions League and reached the FA Cup final in his first season at the helm but failed to build from a position of strength, departing in ninth in the Premier League despite significant spending in the transfer market. 

Defeat at Leicester City last week left Chelsea with just two wins from their past eight league games and, although he oversaw Sunday's FA Cup win over Luton Town, it proved sufficient to end Lampard's reign. 

That Leicester reverse was merely the latest sign Lampard was struggling as a young coach in a huge role, however. 

We look at five games from his tenure that suggested Lampard was not cut out for the top job at Stamford Bridge.


Chelsea 0-2 Southampton - December 2019

In the early days of Lampard's time in charge, Chelsea were a force to be reckoned with away from home, losing 4-0 at Manchester United on the opening day of the season but winning their next seven games on the road in all competitions. Bobby Campbell, in 1989, was the only previous Chelsea boss to oversee such a run.

But the Blues' problems persisted on home soil and were particularly evident over the course of a month late in 2019 when they lost to West Ham, Bournemouth and Southampton at Stamford Bridge. 

Defeat to Saints, just four days after a brilliant win at Tottenham, saw Chelsea lose consecutive home league matches for the first time since November 2011. 

Already their seventh top-flight loss of the campaign, there was little sign of progress, with Maurizio Sarri having only lost eight times in the entirety of the previous season. 

Chelsea 0-3 Bayern Munich - February 2020

Chelsea again got the better of Jose Mourinho's Spurs in the return fixture at Stamford Bridge, yet that victory was followed by another damaging home defeat, this time in the Champions League. 

The Blues met Bayern for the first time since their 2011-12 Champions League final triumph – when Lampard was captain – but were completely outclassed by the eventual title winners. 

The first leg of their last-16 tie saw Chelsea suffer their heaviest home European defeat, going down 3-0 to a Bayern team who had 16 attempts and bossed 63 per cent of the possession. 

The gap between Lampard's men and Europe's best was never more prominent.

Arsenal 2-1 Chelsea - August 2020

A testing first season, disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic, could still have ended on a high had Lampard masterminded an FA Cup final victory over Arsenal. 

The Blues beat Liverpool, Leicester and United en route to the delayed August showpiece but came up short as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored twice in a 2-1 Arsenal success.

Unlike against Bayern, Chelsea had control of the ball with 60 per cent of the possession. However, they were out-shot 11-9 as the Gunners were clinical on the counter. 

Silverware last term might have given Lampard a firmer grasp on his role during the recent rocky patch.

Wolves 2-1 Chelsea - December 2020

Chelsea led the Premier League early in December having beaten Leeds United, but their season – and Lampard's tenure – really fell apart either side of Christmas. 

Having lost at Everton after facing Leeds, the Blues conceded a last-gasp winner to Wolves to suffer consecutive league defeats for the first time in a year. 

Lampard's side were poor at both ends of the pitch, failing to muster a single shot on target in the first half before being caught on the break in the 95th minute. 

The Chelsea coach told his players to "wake up to what this is about right now", but it was not a warning they heeded. 

Arsenal 3-1 Chelsea - December 2020

A scarcely deserved 3-0 win over West Ham appeared to get Chelsea back on track and they should then have been able to build some momentum against struggling Arsenal. 

But Mikel Arteta's side, winless in seven in the league, arrested their own slump in a deserved success as they took control with a flurry of goals either side of half-time. 

Chelsea had again been unable to test the opposition goalkeeper before the break and left it far too late to attempt to stage a comeback, scoring in the 85th minute through Tammy Abraham but then seeing Bernd Leno save Jorginho's penalty.

With defeats to Manchester City and Leicester following in the final weeks of Lampard's reign, this represented a huge missed opportunity to relieve pressure.

It did not take long for Chelsea to run out of patience with Frank Lampard following significant investment in their first-team squad during the close season.

Chelsea spent in excess of £200million on reinforcements for the 2020-21 campaign but with the club ninth in the Premier League and 11 points off top at the midway point, they dispensed with the services of their head coach on Monday.

Lampard arrived just 18 months ago with the club under a transfer embargo and was lauded for his faith in youth during a debut campaign that yielded a top-four finish and an FA Cup final appearance.

However, Chelsea have not managed to maintain an upward trajectory this season and after a run of two wins in eight Premier League games the decision was taken to cut ties with the club legend.

It is fair to say some of Chelsea's new arrivals have not lived up to expectations this term and we look at the numbers behind their performances.

Timo Werner – £45m from RB Leipzig

Werner arrived from Leipzig with big expectations having been involved in 36 league goals (26 scored, eight assisted) in 2019-20 – a tally only bettered by Robert Lewandowski (38), Ciro Immobile (45) and Lionel Messi (46).

He did not take long to find his stride, having a hand in 11 goals (eight scored, three assisted) in a 10-game stretch in all competitions between September and November.

However, the only goal he has scored in 15 appearances since the end of that streak came against Morecambe in the FA Cup third round – it ended an 827-minute drought in all competitions.

He is without a goal in 11 Premier League outings and his difficulties in front were compounded by his failure to convert from the penalty spot against Luton Town on Sunday.

 

Kai Havertz – £71m from Bayer Leverkusen

Alongside Werner (14) and Tammy Abraham (15), Havertz (10) is one of just three Chelsea players to have been involved in at least 10 goals in all competitions this season.

However, half of those have come against lower-league opposition – he scored the first hat-trick of his senior career against Barnsley in the EFL Cup in September, and versus Morecambe in the FA Cup this month had a goal and an assist.

When looking at his figures from the Premier League, he has just one goal and one assist in 16 appearances – 11 of which have come from the start.

Lampard seemed to struggle to figure out how to get the best out of versatile forward Havertz and given his price tag that will be high on the agenda for his replacement.

Ben Chilwell - £45m from Leicester City

A plantar fascia injury delayed Chilwell's Chelsea debut but he was quick to make an impact, becoming just the third Blues player to both score and assist on their Premier League debut, joining Deco and Alvaro Morata.

Within 13 games he had already matched his career best of four Premier League assists in a single season, while his six goal involvements in that time frame was the same as he managed across the entirety of 2019-20 for Leicester.

Crosses from the full-backs were a key part of Lampard's approach and Chilwell's 82 in open play is second to Reece James' 97.

But while 24.7 per cent of James' deliveries were accurate, only 13.4 of Chilwell's were - the third-worst rate of any Blues player to find a team-mate with at least one cross in open play.

Hakim Ziyech – £33.3m from Ajax

An assist for Werner in a pre-season friendly against Brighton provided promising signs, but a knee injury meant his competitive debut did not arrive until October.

He has registered two goals and four assists in 17 appearances in all competitions, but only Mason Mount (2.5) has created more chances per 90 minutes than Ziyech (2.4) this season (all comps).

Furthermore, he creates 0.8 Opta-defined 'big chances' per 90 minutes, which is the most of any Chelsea player to have featured in more than two games.

His expected assists in open play per 90 minutes of 0.21 ranks joint-seventh alongside Kevin De Bruyne (among players to have played at least 450 minutes), so with some better finishing his impact may look more impressive on paper.

 

Edouard Mendy – £22m from Rennes

After Kepa Arrizabalaga committed three errors leading to goals in as many Premier League appearances to start the season, bringing in Mendy from Rennes appeared an astute decision.

He kept nine clean sheets in his first 12 appearances in all competitions, but in his subsequent nine outings he has shut out the opposition just twice and conceded 13 goals.

In the Premier League, Mendy has let in 12 goals from an expected goals on target (xGOT) of 10.8, meaning he has let in one more goal than would have been anticipated from the chances he has faced.

That is the joint-eighth worst in the league among keepers to have played over 900 minutes.

 

Thiago Silva – free transfer

Although he became the first outfield player to make an error leading to a goal on their Premier League debut in two years when his loose control was seized upon by Callum Robinson in a 3-3 draw with West Brom in September, Silva's experience seemed to significantly improve Chelsea's defence.

Only Kurt Zouma (64.6 per cent) has a better duel success rate than Silva's 63.5 among players to have played at least 10 games in all competitions, and he has helped them tighten up when defending set-pieces.

Excluding goals scored directly from free-kicks, Chelsea conceded 13 times from set-pieces in the Premier League in 2019-20, while this term they have only shipped five from dead balls and one of those came when Silva was not in the side.

The Brazilian has also made them more of a threat from set-plays, providing two of the nine goals Chelsea have scored in such situations.

Frank Lampard's appointment as Chelsea head coach was widely heralded by the club's fanbase, who were desperate for a returning hero to succeed in the dugout.

Just 18 months later and Lampard – the club's record all-time leading goalscorer who won 11 major honours at Stamford Bridge – has been sacked.

The Blues have proven in the past there is little time for sentimentality or to dwell on past successes and not even a player with the stature Lampard holds at the club has been granted extra time.

Lampard's first season in charge brought a top-four finish and an FA Cup final but a run of just two wins in eight league matches saw Chelsea wield the axe with the team ninth and 11 points off top.

A huge close-season recruitment drive that saw the likes of Timo Werner, Kai Havertz, Hakim Ziyech and Ben Chilwell arrive perhaps gave the Blues hierarchy itchy feet and brought about the end for Lampard.

With that in mind, we have looked at some hits and misses when players have returned to a club as boss.

HITS

Pep Guardiola

After leaving Barcelona as a player in 2001, Guardiola returned as the Barca B boss in 2007 before being promoted to head coach of the first team a year later. Over four years in charge at Camp Nou he led the Blaugrana to 14 trophies, including three LaLiga titles and two Champions League crowns. Success has continued to come Guardiola's way with Bayern Munich and Manchester City.

Zinedine Zidane

World Cup winner Zidane was part of Real Madrid's 'Galacticos' in the early 2000s and he finished his playing career at the Santiago Bernabeu. Like Guardiola, he returned to oversee the second team before stepping up to the top job after the departure of Rafael Benitez in January 2016. Zidane went on to win an unprecedented three successive Champions League titles with Madrid before stepping down in May 2018, only to return 10 months later. He has already won LaLiga and the Supercopa de Espana in his second stint, though a slump this term has left his long-term future shrouded in doubt.

Antonio Conte

In 13 seasons as a player for Juventus, Conte won almost everything there is to win – five league titles, the Coppa Italia, the Champions League and the UEFA Cup. He moved into management two years after retiring and worked his way back to Juve after spells with Arezzo, Bari, Atalanta and Siena. Juve won three straight Scudetti under Conte – the start of their ongoing dominance – before he accepted the Italy job in 2014. Conte is now battling to end the Bianconeri's domestic dominance as head coach of Inter.

Roberto Di Matteo

Di Matteo accepted the top job at Chelsea in 2012, having previously been assistant to Andre Villas-Boas. Di Matteo – who won the FA Cup twice with the Blues as a player – went on to lift two trophies as Chelsea boss, including their first Champions League title with a penalty shoot-out win over Bayern, but he was discarded early in the following season.

MISSES

Alan Shearer

Record Premier League goalscorer, Newcastle United legend and lethal England striker – Shearer's playing career was full of success. When he retired in 2006, Shearer moved into television as a pundit, but when the Magpies came calling in 2009 he stepped in to try to save them from relegation. Sadly for Shearer he was unsuccessful, his eight-game reign ending in Newcastle slipping out of the top flight after a 1-0 defeat to Aston Villa on the final day.

Filippo Inzaghi

Employing former players as head coaches had previously worked well for Milan – Fabio Capello and Carlo Ancelotti proving particularly successful. When the Rossoneri turned to Inzaghi in 2014 after Clarence Seedorf's brief tenure, the move was therefore no surprise. However, the former striker – who won eight major trophies at the club in his playing days – flopped, winning just 14 of his 40 matches in charge as Milan finished 10th, their worst league position in 17 years.

Thierry Henry

Henry made his name at Monaco after breaking into the first team in 1994, the forward going on to become a world champion and a Premier League icon with Arsenal. After a period as youth coach with the Gunners, Henry was named as Belgium boss Roberto Martinez's assistant. Permanent roles with Bordeaux and Aston Villa were mooted, but in October 2018 Henry chose Monaco. He lasted just three months, losing 11 of his 20 matches in charge across all competitions before being replaced by Leonardo Jardim, the man he had succeeded.

Juan Jose Lopez

One of the most decorated players in River Plate history, having won seven league titles in an 11-year spell, Lopez was a popular appointment after making a strong impact in his second period as caretaker manager in 2010. However, he subsequently presided over a poor 2011 Clausura campaign, forcing River into a relegation play-off against Belgrano, who won 3-1 on aggregate. It was the first time River dropped out of the top tier, sparking riots which left many people injured.

JURY'S OUT

Mikel Arteta

Arteta served Arsenal with distinction as a player between 2011 and 2016, captaining the club and winning the FA Cup twice. Success in football's oldest cup competition followed last term, with Arteta having replaced Unai Emery in December 2019. After finishing eighth, Arsenal defeated Liverpool on penalties to win the Community Shield but eight defeats from 19 league games in this campaign have left Arsenal 11th and 13 points off top spot.

Andrea Pirlo

Lampard's opportunity at Chelsea arrived when Maurizio Sarri departed for Juventus, but his stint in charge at the Bianconeri lasted just one season despite winning the Serie A title. Pirlo won four Scudetti, the Supercoppa Italiana twice and the Coppa Italia during a four-year stint as a player in Turin and was appointed head coach just a week after being installed as Under-23 boss. So far it has been a mixed bag in Juve's hunt for a 10th straight title, with six draws and two defeats in 18 matches leaving them seven points back of league leaders Milan – albeit they do have a game in hand. Pirlo also collected a first trophy courtesy of victory over Napoli in the Supercoppa Italiana last week.

Frank Lampard has been sacked as Chelsea head coach, the Blues have confirmed.

Widespread reports emerged on Monday that the Blues were set to dismiss Lampard after a run of two wins in eight Premier League games left them ninth, 11 points off the pace.

Confirmation soon followed, bringing to an end Lampard's 18-month reign back at the club where he remains the all-time record goalscorer, with former Paris Saint-Germain boss Thomas Tuchel expected to be appointed as his successor.

Chelsea statement did not comment on Tuchel's potential arrival but read: "This has been a very difficult decision, and not one that the owner and the board have taken lightly.

"We are grateful to Frank for what he has achieved in his time as head coach of the club. However, recent results and performances have not met the club's expectations, leaving the club mid-table without any clear path to sustained improvement.

"There can never be a good time to part ways with a club legend such as Frank, but after lengthy deliberation and consideration it was decided a change is needed now to give the club time to improve performances and results this season."

Owner Roman Abramovich added: "This was a very difficult decision for the club, not least because I have an excellent personal relationship with Frank and I have the utmost respect for him.

"He is a man of great integrity and has the highest of work ethics. However, under current circumstances we believe it is best to change managers.

"On behalf of everyone at the club, the board and personally, I would like to thank Frank for his work as head coach and wish him every success in the future.

"He is an important icon of this great club and his status here remains undiminished. He will always be warmly welcomed back at Stamford Bridge."

Lampard was unable to replicate the success of his playing career at Stamford Bridge, where he won 11 major trophies in 13 years.

This was his second senior coaching role, having fallen just short of promotion from the Championship with Derby County in 2018-19.

A return to Chelsea followed, with Lampard given the task of overseeing a period of transition as the club served a transfer ban while bringing through a number of players from their talented academy.

Mason Mount, Tammy Abraham and Reece James all established themselves as regulars as the Blues qualified for the Champions League last term and reached the FA Cup final.

Expectations were raised by significant expenditure in the close-season transfer window, with Timo Werner, Kai Havertz, Hakim Ziyech and Ben Chilwell among those arriving, and Chelsea initially thrived, climbing to the top of the table in December 2020.

But the 2020-21 campaign has since gone on a downward spiral, their poor run of form including defeats to Everton, Wolves, Arsenal, Manchester City and Leicester City.

The latter three reverses were especially humbling, handing struggling Arsenal a much-needed win before being completely outplayed by City. Leicester - title contenders unlike Chelsea - were comfortable in Lampard's final league game in charge on Tuesday.

Lampard's tenure ended with a 3-1 victory against Luton Town in the FA Cup in which Abraham scored a hat-trick, although Werner's struggles continued with a penalty miss.

Werner and Havertz have failed to perform consistently following their big-money moves from the Bundesliga.

They will hope to be boosted by the apparently imminent appointment of fellow German Tuchel, who won two Ligue 1 titles and made the Champions League final with PSG.

Frank Lampard has been sacked as Chelsea head coach, the Blues have confirmed.

Widespread reports emerged on Monday that the Blues were set to dismiss Lampard after a run of two wins in eight Premier League games left them ninth, 11 points off the pace.

Confirmation soon followed, bringing to an end Lampard's 18-month reign back at the club where he remains the all-time record goalscorer, with former Paris Saint-Germain boss Thomas Tuchel expected to be appointed as his successor.

Frank Lampard will be sacked as Chelsea head coach on Monday, according to widespread reports.

It is said former Paris Saint-Germain coach Thomas Tuchel will take charge at Stamford Bridge just a month after leaving the Ligue 1 champions.

Confirmation of Lampard's departure is seemingly set to follow a run of two wins in eight Premier League games.

The Blues' record goalscorer was appointed in July 2019 and led them to a fourth-place finish and the FA Cup final in his debut campaign as a top-flight coach.

Chelsea invested heavily ahead of the 2020-21 season and were top of the table at the start of December.

But a dreadful run has seen Chelsea slide down to ninth, 11 points off the pace, reportedly costing club great Lampard his job the day after a 3-1 FA Cup win against Luton Town.

Lampard's failure to get the best out of an expensively assembled side appeared to heavily contribute to his demise.

Timo Werner continued his miserable run of form with a penalty miss against Luton, his only goal since November having come in the previous round of the cup at home to Morecambe.

Germany colleague Kai Havertz has netted only once in the Premier League, with his most recent three starts in the competition all coming in defeats.

Havertz was in the line-up at Everton when Chelsea, top after beating Leeds United in their first match in December, went down 1-0.

A late defeat at Wolves followed and victory over West Ham could not arrest the slump, as struggling rivals Arsenal eased past the Blues on Boxing Day.

Held by Aston Villa, Chelsea were then outclassed by Manchester City before a narrow win at relegation-battling Fulham eased the pressure only slightly.

Defeat at Leicester City - Premier League contenders while Chelsea flounder - was apparently the final straw, despite progress in the cup.

In Tuchel, a compatriot of Werner and Havertz, Chelsea would bring in a coach who won consecutive titles in France and also guided PSG to last season's Champions League final.

The former Borussia Dortmund boss looks to have been preferred to Massimiliano Allegri and ex-Chelsea coach Rafael Benitez.

Frank Lampard spared Kepa Arrizabalaga from criticism and said he has no doubt Timo Werner will come good after Chelsea's unconvincing FA Cup win over Luton Town.

Tammy Abraham's hat-trick was ultimately enough for Chelsea to overcome Championship side Luton 3-1 on Sunday and take their place in the fifth round.

A mistake at 2-0 up from goalkeeper Kepa – who has been demoted to second choice following Edouard Mendy's arrival at Stamford Bridge – enabled Jordan Clark to pull one back for Luton.

However, Kepa made amends with a fine save from Harry Cornick early in the second half, with Abraham's tap-in then rounding off the win.

Werner, who has scored just once in 16 games across all competitions, missed a late penalty as his frustrating run in front of goal continued.

Since he last scored in the league – on November 7 – Werner has attempted 21 shots, with just seven hitting the target, while the Germany international has missed seven big chances.

Lampard, however, stood by both Kepa and Werner, insisting the goalkeeper was not solely to blame for Luton's goal, while reiterating his confidence in Chelsea's misfiring striker.

"Kepa makes a really top save in the second half to make sure it doesn't go to 2-2," Lampard told a news conference.

"It is very easy for people to sort of hone in on that but Kepa is not playing so regularly. He comes in after training well and he is a good goalkeeper and I will certainly give him that one in the first half.

"I am as annoyed that we let someone stand in our box in space and get a shot away when we shouldn't have done. I think it was a general team moment of complacency with how we were at 2-0 which is not good enough.

"So, we got back to it very quickly and dominated the game and it made us slightly nervous to not have the two-goal lead that makes it comfortable. Once we got that back again, which we should have got a lot earlier, then the game was comfortable.

"With Timo, I'm disappointed for him. He gave a lot to the performance today. He was a threat, his link-up with Tammy, with people around him, it's just one of those things.

"When it's not going for you, it can happen. I missed penalties, I know the feeling. I know he will feel despondent, maybe now and the last few minutes of the game, but he shouldn't be.

"It's my job and his team-mates' job to lift him and he will be fine. It was almost a sign of what's going on for Timo at the minute, it's not quite dropping for him.

"But there will be a time when he takes penalties and hits the back of the net without thinking about it. At the moment that's not quite the time for Timo, but it will come and hopefully soon."

Chelsea lost 2-0 to Leicester City in the league on Tuesday, but have now won 52 of their last 54 FA Cup ties against sides from a lower division, with Barnsley up next in the competition.

"I always need the results," said Lampard, who has been under mounting scrutiny. "People expect a lot from our league position.

"People will look at it and look very closely at the moment but I look at the bigger picture. Of course, I wanted the result today. It is a nice air of positivity around the club to get to the next round. We are in two cup competitions with the Champions League, FA Cup, and we want to win more points in the league.

"That's a good three wins in four games, I'm happy to quote that one because in the modern day people will very much look at the short-term stats that can be flipped in different directions.

"It's nice for us in the short term that we have done that. The scrutiny on a club like Chelsea is normal. The job for us is not to get too caught up in how many games we won recently or where we are in the table."

Kepa Arrizabalaga made another blunder and Timo Werner missed a penalty but Tammy Abraham's hat-trick got Chelsea past Luton Town with a 3-1 victory at Stamford Bridge.

Abraham's quickfire double put Chelsea in control early in the FA Cup fourth-round tie on Sunday, as last season's runners up seemed to be heading for a comfortable success.

Yet Kepa, brought in as one of seven changes made by Frank Lampard from Tuesday's defeat at Leicester City, enabled Luton to haul themselves into the contest when he failed to keep out Jordan Clark's effort.

Abraham's third goal 16 minutes from time ultimately set up a fifth-round trip to Barnsley, though Werner's woeful run in front of goal continued when his late spot-kick was saved.

 

Liverpool are reportedly prioritising a new deal for Virgil van Dijk over Mohamed Salah, while they could be beaten to Dayot Upamecano by Manchester United.

Salah's future has been a talking point in recent weeks, although the forward is contracted until 2023.

Van Dijk also has an agreement at Anfield until 2023, but the injured defender is apparently Liverpool's focus.

 

TOP STORY – LIVERPOOL PRIORITISE VAN DIJK DEAL OVER SALAH

Liverpool are prioritising a new contract for Van Dijk over Salah, according to Eurosport.

Van Dijk, 29, is recovering from a serious knee injury and his absence has been felt by the Premier League champions.

Salah, meanwhile, has scored 13 goals in 18 league games this season, but in an interview with AS last month the 28-year-old refused to rule out a move to Real Madrid or Barcelona.

The report also says Liverpool may look at West Ham midfielder Declan Rice, with Georginio Wijnaldum set to leave as a free agent at the end of the campaign.

ROUND-UP

- With Van Dijk and Joe Gomez injured, Liverpool have been linked with a move for RB Leipzig defender Upamecano. But The Sun reports Manchester United are poised to sign the centre-back for £38million (€42.7m).

- Amid uncertainty over his future at Barcelona, Ousmane Dembele is being looked at by numerous European giants. Sport reports Chelsea, Manchester United, Juventus and Bayern Munich are monitoring the forward's situation. Dembele is out of contract in 2022 and the Catalan giants could sell him if he does not extend his deal.

- Frank Lampard is under enormous pressure at Chelsea as the Premier League side struggle for form. The Mirror reports Chelsea could turn to Leicester City manager Brendan Rodgers if they move on from Lampard.

- Yet to re-sign with Southampton with his contract expiring next year, Danny Ings is linked with a move. 90min reports Leicester City and Everton have joined the race for the forward, who has also been linked to Tottenham.

Mikel Arteta hopes Frank Lampard is given time at Chelsea as Premier League managers continue to deal with the challenges posed by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. 

Chelsea went top of the table with a 3-1 triumph over Leeds United on December 5 but have collected just seven points in their eight games since then. 

The worrying run included a 3-1 defeat away to Arteta's Arsenal on Boxing Day, a result that ended a seven-match streak without a win for the Gunners in the top flight. 

Lampard insisted on Friday he does not pay any attention to speculation over his future at Stamford Bridge and has now received support from the man in charge of a rival club. 

"I've known Frank for a few years as well and I've spent some time with him," Arteta told the media. 

"I would like [Chelsea] to support him and give him a chance. He has huge experience as a player, he is an icon over there. 

"He's done some really good things, but you need time and if there's something we haven't had in this calendar year, it's time to work on anything."

Arteta, who found his own position in the spotlight during Arsenal's struggles earlier in the campaign, feels clubs will benefit in the long run if they show some patience. 

"Fortunately, if [clubs] see what you're trying to do is going to have rewards in the future and they are a little bit patient, most of the time it pays off, if everybody is convinced that we are doing things the right way," the Spaniard said. 

"I speak with a lot of managers and some of them have been in the game for over 30 years, and they said, 'I never experienced something like that'. This is a new game, new rules. There are so many things we cannot control. It's out of our hands in a lot of moments. 

"I listen a lot to that because we tend to put more and more pressure and demand a lot of ourselves. It's a very strange league this season, and you can see that in many teams."

Holders Arsenal continue their FA Cup defence on Saturday when they travel to Southampton.

All four previous meetings between the teams in the competition have ended with Arsenal victorious; they also went on to win the trophy on three occasions, in 1979, 2003 and 2017.

Southampton have won just one of their previous nine meetings with Arsenal in all competitions, a 3-2 league victory in December 2018.

Frank Lampard is paying no attention to names being linked with replacing him at Stamford Bridge as the pressure increases on the Chelsea manager.

Since going top of the Premier League in December with a win over Leeds United, Chelsea have taken just seven points from a possible 24.

A 2-0 defeat at Leicester City made it two wins in eight league games for the Blues, who are now 11 points adrift of leaders Manchester United.

RB Leipzig boss Julian Nagelsmann is among those have been touted as potential successors to Lampard.

But asked about such speculation, Lampard told a media conference ahead of a fourth-round FA Cup tie with Luton Town: "I don't listen to it.

"It's only everywhere if you want to go and scroll through social media and I don't do that.

"I'm not stupid, I know the pressure that comes with managing a top football club but I can only do my job. It doesn't matter to me.

"The pressure is fine, you're obviously not happy when you're not winning games.

"It comes with the territory, you can look around the league and see teams that are having problems that are not used to having problems. I just have to get on with the job.

"My concern is not the pressure on me because I can deal with it, I've been in football a long, long time as a player at top clubs so I understand how it goes and it's different as a player.

"But the pressure needs to be positive on the players because the players are what make you a good manager or not such a good manager and that can flip very quickly as we always see.

"It's important that the players don't feel that [pressure]. I don't mind taking that, the players have to feel a good pressure.

"We want to win games, they want to get some form back, we know how quickly results and form can turn in this league, we just have to direct that pressure in the right way on the pitch."

The scrutiny on Lampard is intensified by Chelsea's significant outlay in the transfer window prior to the 2020-21 campaign.

Kai Havertz, Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech were the headline signings for Chelsea but all have struggled for form in recent times.

Werner has not scored in the league since November 7, while Havertz and Ziyech have each found the net just once.

Neither Havertz nor Ziyech created a chance against Leicester, the latter having replaced the former Bayer Leverkusen man in Tuesday's dispiriting loss.

On whether some of his close-season recruits have been surprised by the intensity of the Premier League, Lampard said: "I think that some of the new lads have been quoted as saying that.

"We've got the most physical and fastest league in the world, it's pretty clear to see. 

"When I talk about players needing adaptation, and we've seen great players need time in this league to kick in, especially when they're young because they come to this league fresh, it's very normal."

Inter star Lautaro Martinez's future could be closer to being sorted, while Frank Lampard is under enormous pressure.

After impressing at Inter, Martinez, 23, has been strongly linked with a move to Barcelona.

The Argentina international is contracted at Inter until 2023, but that could be set to change.

 

TOP STORY – INTER OPTIMISTIC OVER MARTINEZ RENEWAL

Inter are optimistic about reaching an agreement for a new contract with Lautaro Martinez, according to Sky Sport.

The report says Martinez's agents met with Inter on Wednesday.

Martinez has scored nine goals in 18 Serie A games this season, having netted 14 in 35 in the league in 2019-20, leading to interest from Barcelona.

 

ROUND-UP

- As Chelsea's struggles continue, Lampard is under growing pressure as head coach. Sky Sports reports the former England international will lose his job unless results improve immediately. Chelsea have lost five of their past eight Premier League games to slip to eighth in the table. The Independent, meanwhile, reports Chelsea are not interested in an interim replacement. Former Paris Saint-Germain boss Thomas Tuchel, RB Leipzig coach Julian Nagelsmann, Southampton's Ralph Hasenhuttl and ex-Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri have been linked.

- Previously linked to Arsenal, Houssem Aouar may be looking elsewhere if he leaves Lyon. ESPN claims the midfielder is eager to join Barcelona or Real Madrid.

- Set to stay at Manchester City until the end of the season, Eric Garcia has been linked with a move to Barcelona when his deal expires in June. However, Mundo Deportivo says PSG are planning a move for the defender.

- Arsenal could make moves in January. Sky Sports reports they have approached Real Madrid about a move for Martin Odegaard, while Cuatro claims Sevilla are hoping to loan the midfielder.

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