Manchester United are yet to agree loan exits for Jesse Lingard or Brandon Williams, but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer intends to keep Amad Diallo at the club.

Teams including West Brom, West Ham and Sheffield United have been linked with England international Lingard, who has started just twice and not made a single Premier League appearance this season.

Solskjaer has agreed to allow the 28-year-old, who last scored in the 2-1 Europa League win over LASK in August, to seek a loan move in order to find regular playing time and perhaps earn an international recall.

Full-back Williams, who has played only six minutes in the league this season, and young winger Facundo Pellistri are also set to be loaned out, with the latter tipped to join either Club Brugge or Deportivo Alaves.

However, United manager Solskjaer has different plans for Diallo, with the 18-year-old close to being declared ready for first-team duties despite arriving in England from Atalanta only on January 7.

"They're still part of our club, part of the squad, training well," Solskjaer said when asked about Lingard and Williams. "No deal has been struck for any players yet going out, there is still a little period left, of course. There have been many clubs interested in our players, so let's see what happens.

"For me, it's also important to take our wishes and our plans into consideration, but the players, of course, are Manchester United people and players through and through.

"There have been talks [about Pellistri] and there have been quite a few clubs interested in Facundo to go out on loan, and that is maybe something we will let him do now. He's had a few games in the reserves, we want him to have regular football at a high level.

"With Amad, it's a different scenario, he's going through a good training regime and training programme. He's doing well and it won't be too long before I can bring him into the squad."

The Red Devils face Sheffield United on Wednesday, looking to extend a seven-game league winning streak at home against the Blades that stretches back to August 1975.

Solskjaer's men sat top of the table after 19 games but knew Manchester City could move a point above them by beating West Brom on Tuesday.

Struggling Sheffield United will go into Wednesday's contest 35 points behind the Old Trafford outfit, which, paradoxically, could give them some hope: Manchester United have only won one of their past six league matches against teams over whom they have held such a points advantage in the table, losing two of the previous three at home.

Frank Lampard did not take the Chelsea job too soon and will make a swift return to management, according to Carlo Ancelotti.

Chelsea sacked their all-time leading goalscorer Lampard on Monday just 18 months after he arrived from Derby County, where he began his career as a coach one year prior.

He steered the Blues to a top-four finish in the Premier League and to the FA Cup final, but a run of two wins in eight top-flight games left them 11 points off leaders Manchester United in ninth.

Ancelotti, who coached Lampard for two years at Stamford Bridge, does not think Lampard was too inexperienced for the role.

"No, I don't think so," the Everton boss replied when asked if Lampard had taken the Chelsea job too soon. "I think where you start a career as a manager or a player, every career you don't have experience.

"It's important to have knowledge. I think what Lampard did as a player and what he did as a manager before going to Chelsea, has knowledge of football. When you have knowledge of football you can grow your experience, but everyone that starts a career has no experience.

"I want to compare to [Juventus coach Andrea] Pirlo. Of course they don't have experience, but experience is not the most important part of your job. The most important part is the knowledge and the management. And after that with the knowledge you can grow, you can improve your experience."

Ancelotti considers being sacked to be part and parcel of football management and does not think it will take long for Lampard to find another position.

"It's not unusual that a manager is sacked. Frank Lampard knows this. My personal opinion is that getting sacked is part of our job. We have to understand this," said Ancelotti.

"I was sacked everywhere, so I have to consider the fact it's part of our job. Frank will soon find another opportunity because he's a good manager. He did well at Chelsea but for the club it was not enough. It's simple.

"In the end it's not sad news. One door closes and for him that is Chelsea – I understand that Chelsea was his club, he played for them, but for sure he is going to have another opportunity soon."

Jose Mourinho is the only manager to have led Chelsea for more than two consecutive seasons – he did it in both his stints at the helm – since Roman Abramovich bought the club in 2003.

However, Ancelotti does not consider the Blues to be a tougher place to work.

"Chelsea is not more difficult than other clubs, it's the same," he said.

"Every club has expectations and when things aren't going how they like, what are they going to do? They are going to change 20 players? The easiest way is to change the manager.

"This is what happens in football. All managers know this. We have to consider this part of our job and nothing more."

Chelsea have never had coaching staff who cared more about the club than the group led by Frank Lampard, according to his assistant Jody Morris.

Head coach Lampard and Morris were removed from their positions on Monday to make room for Thomas Tuchel, who is on the brink of being appointed at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea great Lampard released a statement ruing the fact he was not given more time to turn the situation around, the Blues having slumped to ninth in the Premier League at the halfway stage this season.

The former England international was nonetheless proud of what he had done to help promote younger players to the first team.

They were sentiments echoed by Morris, who praised Lampard for working "tirelessly" to improve the squad.

"I am immensely proud to say I have been stood next to our gaffa Frank Lampard who has worked tirelessly to improve the players and the culture every single day," Morris wrote on Instagram.

"Us as your staff could not ask for a better leader!!

"There has never been a bunch in that dugout that cared more inside Stamford Bridge!!

"I'm even prouder of the work that has gone on day in day out at Cobham in what has been the toughest period anybody has had to face in charge."

Former Chelsea midfielder Morris – who thanked the fans and owner Roman Abramovich – was also with Lampard at Derby County in the Championship.

He added: "Yesterday [Monday] was tough to take on all levels.

"It has hurt twice previously that I've had to leave this great club, but it's been on my terms and both times it was done with the bigger picture for myself and my family in mind.

"I've always felt lucky to be able to say I've played for the team I've supported since I was a young boy growing up on north end road.

"Chelsea is and always will be my club no matter what."

Former Chelsea player Pat Nevin, meanwhile, felt it would have been a difficult decision for Abramovich to take.

And he is most concerned about the impact on some of the youngsters Lampard brought through.

"I am desperately saddened to see Frank Lampard leaving the club, but then again who isn't," he wrote on the Chelsea website.

"I suspect those who made the decision are saddened too. In fact, if you aren't upset at all then you almost certainly aren't a true Chelsea fan.

"The players need to get their heads right after such a shock.

"It is going to be a particularly big ask for some of the younger players who have had Frank and his coaching team to thank for their opportunities and who each looked to him as a mentor. 

"They must be professional now and work with the new coach, but it is undoubtedly a concerning time for them."

Steven Gerrard was "gutted" to see Chelsea sack Frank Lampard and has hit out at the Blues for not giving their managers time.

During their playing careers, Rangers boss Gerrard was a team-mate of Lampard for England as well as a Premier League rival as the two battled it out with Liverpool and Chelsea.

He felt Chelsea had the opportunity to be different this time by offering their former star player support during a difficult period, the Blues having slumped to ninth in the table.

But ultimately Gerrard was not surprised to see owner Roman Abramovich wield the axe on Monday.

"I did think it was an opportunity for Chelsea to really reach out and support him during this tough period rather than do what they have done," Gerrard said when asked about Lampard's sacking.

"But Chelsea have got history for that so it was no surprise."

Gerrard believes Lampard, who was previously in charge of Championship outfit Derby County, will make a prompt return to management.

He added: "Obviously I'm gutted for Frank, he's an ex-team-mate of mine, someone I respect greatly.

"But knowing the guy, he will be back in no time. He will dust himself down and get back involved. 

"He will use this time to spend with his family. He's obviously got a young family and one on the way.

"I'm disappointed for him. I thought it was a very swift exit on the back of a positive result at the weekend [a 3-1 FA Cup win over Luton Town on Sunday].

"But I don't know the details. I don't know how it's been for him, I don't know the relationships that he's had inside the club."

Former Borussia Dortmund and Paris Saint-Germain boss Thomas Tuchel is poised to replace Lampard at Stamford Bridge.

Gerrard, meanwhile, is closing in on a first Scottish Premiership title and has also led Rangers into the Europa League knockout stages.

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.

For so long, Real Madrid have been linked with Kylian Mbappe but will the LaLiga champions bring the French forward to the Santiago Bernabeu?

Mbappe is reportedly open to the idea of making the move to the Spanish capital.

However, Liverpool could be ready to hijack any transfer.

 

TOP STORY – MBAPPE TO MADRID?

Kylian Mbappe dominates the front pages of Tuesday's Diario AS and Mundo Deportivo as Real Madrid try to sign the Paris Saint-Germain star.

Mbappe – out of contract in 2022 – has been tipped to swap Ligue 1 holders PSG for LaLiga champions Madrid at the end of the season.

While the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic impacts Madrid, the Spanish giants are still working on a deal to prise the Frenchman to the Santiago Bernabeu, with Vinicius Junior a possible makeweight.

Mundo Deportivo says Premier League champions Liverpool are ready to pounce should Madrid fail to sign Mbappe.

 

ROUND-UP

- Onda Cero reports PSG have offered Madrid captain Sergio Ramos a three-year deal worth €15million a season. Ramos is set to become a free agent at the end of the season and the superstar has been linked with the likes of Manchester United and Juventus.

- Both Madrid and Barcelona are considering a shock move for Roma striker Edin Dzeko, according to Mundo Deportivo. Dzeko has had a falling out with under-fire head coach Paulo Fonseca, prompting links to Juve and Inter.

Thomas Tuchel is set to be named Frank Lampard's Chelsea replacement, with Fabrizio Romano claiming an announcement is "just a matter of time". Tuchel was sacked by PSG in December.

- The Athletic says Juve have identified Villarreal centre-back Pau Torres as a long-term replacement for veteran Giorgio Chiellini. Torres has also been linked with United, Manchester City, Barca, Madrid and Chelsea.

Tottenham have approached PSG's Angel Di Maria, who is out of contract at the end of the season, according to L'Equipe. Di Maria has history in England, having spent a difficult season playing for United in 2014-15.

- Sport 1 says Borussia Dortmund are interested in Sassuolo midfielder Manuel Locatelli. The likes of Juve and City have also emerged as suitors.

Manchester United star Bruno Fernandes insisted he does not need to be rested after coming off the bench to secure FA Cup victory over rivals Liverpool.

Fernandes was among the substitutes in Sunday's 3-2 FA Cup fourth-round triumph at Old Trafford, where he was introduced in the second half and scored the match-winning 78th-minute free-kick.

The Portugal international has now scored 28 goals for United in all competitions since his debut in February 2020 – more than any other player for a Premier League club.

Fernandes has helped rejuvenate United, who have gone from struggling to qualify for the Champions League to topping the Premier League table through 19 matches in 2020-21.

But Fernandes dismissed claims he is tired, saying: "Tired? With 26 years old I can't be tired. If I'm tired now, when I arrive at 30, 32, I will not play.

"I will play one game in five [days] so, no, I'm not tired."

Fernandes, who dropped out of the starting line-up for Donny van de Beek against Liverpool, added: "Of course the coach knows what is better for the team and he chose to play with Donny to give some freshness to the team.

"I think it's fair enough because Donny is training really well, he's been important for us and will be more and more important in the future."

Former Sporting CP captain Fernandes is determined to lead United to silverware, following three semi-final appearances last season in the Europa League, FA Cup and EFL Cup.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's United, who last won the Premier League in 2012-13, also lost in the semi-finals of this season's EFL Cup.

"I don't conform with [the idea that] losing games is normal stuff," said Fernandes. "For me, losing is not normal so my mentality comes from that, you know? I always was like this. I don’t like to lose, so maybe the mentality is more like I don't like to lose.

"Also playing whatever it is, when I was playing with my friends, my brother, my neighbours, I never wanted to lose, I want to win every time. This mentality will be with me for the rest of my life, I think."

United – two points clear of neighbours Manchester City, who have a game in hand – face Sheffield United on Wednesday, are through to the FA Cup fifth round and will meet Real Sociedad in the Europa League last 32.

Fernandes said: "I came to the club because I knew this is a club who wants to win everything. So you have to be confident, you have to trust your team-mates, you have to trust yourself, and you have to believe.

"And I will believe until it's not possible. Like when I see someone get the trophy before me [only] then I will [have] lost my belief."

Gareth Bale impressed in a scoring display during Tottenham's 4-1 FA Cup win at Wycombe Wanderers, with Jose Mourinho insisting he has no worries over the Wales star's fitness.

Bale returned to Spurs on loan from Real Madrid in September but an initial knee problem delayed his second debut and he has largely existed on the periphery of Mourinho's plans in the Premier League.

He was once again called into cup action at Adams Park and produced an all-action performance, equalising after Fred Onyedinma put the Championship's bottom club ahead against the run of play.

Mourinho still had to call for the cavalry from the bench as Wycombe withstood a second-half onslaught.

Harry Kane and Son Heung-min both went close, but fellow substitute Tanguy Ndombele finished superbly for a late brace after Harry Winks' cool chip gave Spurs an 86th-minute lead.

Faltering Premier League champions Liverpool are next on the agenda for Tottenham and Mourinho suggested Bale had done his prospects of adding to a solitary top-flight start this term no harm at all.

"He looked good, taking on players, scored the goal," he told a post-match news conference.

"I never felt that he could not play 90 minutes, I never felt I had to take him off.

"The Championship is a good level. That is good. I am happy."

If Bale is concerned over whether he can make himself a fixture in Mourinho's first XI, he should look no further than Ndombele.

The former Lyon midfielder was not always trusted when the ex-Chelsea boss replaced Mauricio Pochettino last term, but he is now a player on top form and oozing confidence, as his late salvo emphatically showed.

"He is very creative. He's one of these players who can break the balance [of a game]," Mourinho told BT Sport.

"They tried to get him man-against-man. Number 18 [Curtis Thompson] was man-against-man with him.

"But he is always the kind of player who can break that. If, on the top of that, he can score a goal for us, even better."

Manchester City are not ready to put a date on Sergio Aguero's return to action, yet Pep Guardiola expects the club's record goalscorer to "help us in the decisive moments" this season.

Aguero underwent meniscus surgery last June and then saw a hamstring injury hamper his initial comeback in October.

These issues have limited the 32-year-old to just nine appearances in all competitions this season, which have yielded two goals.

Aguero also had to self-isolate earlier in January when he was set for an outing in the FA Cup and last week revealed he had tested positive for coronavirus.

Into the final six months of his City contract, Guardiola is keen to have Aguero back available, although he detailed how the striker was laid low by the effects of COVID-19.

"The important thing is when we text him during the first three, four days, he struggled, he felt so tired, but today he sent a message to the backroom staff to say he feels much better," Guardiola said ahead of Tuesday's trip to West Brom.

"Now he needs to test negative and abide by the protocols, and then start to come back here and move and see how he feels, day by day.

"I cannot tell you [when he will be back], I don't know how he will react in the first days when we start to train."

There have been only three starts for Aguero this term, with his pitch time a meagre 260 minutes overall.

The Argentina international has scored with both of his shots in the Champions League but failed to register in the Premier League, having four efforts across five outings and passing up a big chance with his only shot on target against Newcastle United.

A contract extension remains on the agenda, though, and Guardiola sees Aguero rediscovering the scoring touch that has so far brought 256 goals in 316 games for City, netting with 19 per cent of his attempts.

"I don't know when he is coming back, February or March, but I'm so optimistic that he will give us until the end of the season some good, good months," Guardiola said. "I'm so optimistic.

"He is going to help us in the decisive moments, to give us the goals and the difference that we need. I'm so confident it's going to happen."

In 2018-19, as Vincent Kompany entered the final months of his contract, the former City captain put long-term injury troubles behind him to play a key role in their most recent title success.

Guardiola was asked if the plan was for Aguero to have a similar impact and replied: "Hopefully. Hopefully it's going to happen.

"But at the same time, Vincent had an incredible quality; after being two months injured in the gym, he can go out and play one training session and play incredibly well.

"Sergio doesn't know if he has this quality to immediately go out and do it. He needs the special sharpness and the first steps for this quality to score a goal, but it depends on him.

"At the end, we'll see him in the training session and on the pitch and it's easy to realise if he's fit or not.

"But hopefully he can help us with the special quality he has. That's why he is one of the best strikers ever - not just in England, all the time in football history."

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."

The Premier League has announced eight new positive cases from its most recent two rounds of coronavirus testing, half the amount of players and club staff who tested positive the previous week.  

Testing was ramped up to twice a week earlier this month due to a rise in the infection rate across the league and the United Kingdom in general.  

A record 40 positives were identified between December 28 and January 3, with a further 36 cases confirmed the following week.  

However, the number dropped by 20 between January 11 and 17 and has seen another significant decrease this time around.  

Across the two rounds carried out between January 18 and 24, 2,518 players and staff were tested for the virus – eight returned positive results.  

The Premier League does not provide specific information over who the individuals are who test positive, nor which clubs they are associated with.

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.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang being absent for a prolonged period would be a problem for Arsenal but Mikel Arteta is expecting big things from Gabriel Martinelli.

Arsenal were without Aubameyang for their 1-0 FA Cup defeat to Southampton on Saturday after the Gabon international left the squad to attend to a personal matter.

Arteta was unsure how long the striker would be unavailable for, making him a doubt for the second straight game at St Mary's Stadium – this time a Premier League meeting on Tuesday.

Aubameyang has struggled for form this season, scoring eight goals – three of which have come in his past three appearances – and supplying one assist in 20 outings in all competitions

"Of course, it would be a problem [if he was out long term] because he's our top striker and the one who has scored the most goals," Arteta told a news conference.

"He's our captain and an important player in the team. We have to respect the time. Let's see. I don't have enough information right now to see how things are evolving and hopefully things will go in the right direction."

Martinelli made his first start in three and a half weeks against Saints after overcoming an ankle injury and was replaced just before the hour mark.

Arteta confirmed Martinelli had not suffered a setback and he expected the 19-year-old to really start producing for the team.

"He was fine, it was a tactical decision. He's missed a few training sessions from the last injury, but I expect big things from Gabi," said Arteta.

"He's been really helpful since he joined again after such a long period, so I'm really positive about him."

Arteta was impressed by Southampton's pressing in their FA Cup meeting and expects a similar challenge in their next meeting.

Ralph Hasenhuttl's team have the third-lowest opposition passes allowed per defensive action (PPDA) value in the Premier League this season at 10.9, indicating that only Liverpool (10.1) and Leeds United (8.9) press higher than them.

Furthermore, the average distance from their own goal that Saints' open play sequences start is 42.9 metres, with only Liverpool (44.4m) and Manchester City (45.4m) commencing sequences further up the pitch.

Arsenal, meanwhile, rank joint-11th in PPDA (13.8) and joint-sixth in average start distance (41.8m).

"We know they are one of the most effective teams in that [pressing] like we are," said Arteta.

"It was an intense game and we were expecting that for sure, and we are expecting that on Tuesday because they don't really change.

"They are a really great team, really good manager, they know exactly what they're doing and they've been doing it for years now, and they are good at it so we expect a similar game on Tuesday."

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.

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