Lampard backs Canaries trio to become Premier League players but is disappointed by Chelsea fringe players
PUBLISHED: 10:23 07 January 2018 | UPDATED: 10:32 07 January 2018
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Chelsea icon Frank Lampard believes the attacking triumvirate which helped earn Norwich City an FA Cup replay against the Blues will all go on to play in the Premier League.
The trio of Alex Pritchard, Josh Murphy and James Maddison operated in a fluid front three after Nelson Oliveira’s ankle knock forced City boss Daniel Farke into a late change of plan.
Although the front three couldn’t force the goal to grab a third round upset, the youngsters all caused problems for a much-changed Chelsea during Saturday’s 0-0 draw at Carrow Road.
“I liked them,” Lampard said, when asked about the Canaries trio during BT Sport’s post-match analysis. “Talking to Chris (Sutton) before the game we were wondering who was the actual out-and-out centre-forward and they didn’t really have that one and that may have been their only downfall because they couldn’t actually hurt Chelsea in the box.
“But their link-up play and appreciation of each other was very good. They were very confident, Murphy wasn’t scared to run through, I think we’re talking about three players there who will play in the Premier League, from what I’ve seen.
“They’re going to develop, the issue was with the final ball sometimes.”
He added: “I thought all three of them were very impressive in their link-up play and will take huge confidence from this.”
The former England midfielder, who made 649 appearances and scored 211 goals for Chelsea between 2001 and 2014, was less impressed with his former side as they were taken to a replay by a team currently sat 13th in the Championship table.
“It’s not easy coming into the team when you’ve been out, not playing regular football or you’re a bit disgruntled, but that doesn’t matter,” he continued.
“When you come to somewhere like Norwich, it’s cold, the atmosphere’s different, it’s a new team, you have to state your case.
“There were a few there that didn’t state their case enough. As Steve McManaman said (on commentary) the ones sat at home who are regular starters will be sat there thinking they’re pretty comfortable.”
The Blues have now only lost one of their last 16 games, sit third in the Premier League and have EFL Cup semi-finals against Arsenal and Champions League quarter-finals against Barcelona approaching.
That was the reasoning behind manager Antonio Conte’s nine changes, resting stars such as Eden Hazard, Cesc Fabregas and Marcos Alonso, with Lampard having some sympathy for the fringe players who came in and failed to shine.
“I don’t think it’s lack of effort,” he added. I think when you’re off the pace, when you move the ball slowly, when you don’t close down quick enough, when you take another second to pick a pass.”
“It’s not desire – that was one of my bugbears, when people said there’s no passion or no desire – I just think there was more needed man-to-man and as I said at half-time, that’s contagious, that kinds of thing spreads through a team.
“When that sort of thing starts happening in a game it’s very difficult to turn it. Only Willian in that second half, he was the only one that when he got the ball there was that injection of trying to change the game.”