Clean sheets a sign of team’s spine: Lampard

Clean sheets a sign of team’s spine: Lampard

LONDON • The accustomising process has taken six weeks, but Chelsea manager Frank Lampard believes his expensively assembled team are finally finding the right balance between attack and defence.

The visitors shut out Burnley for their fourth successive clean sheet in all competitions, coming away with a 3-0 win at Turf Moor in the Premier League on Saturday.

Hakim Ziyech opened the scoring in the first half, followed by goals from Kurt Zouma and Timo Werner after the interval.

Despite losing Christian Pulisic in the pre-game warm-up session to a hamstring issue, the Blues were too good for the hosts, leaving Lampard delighted with his team’s progression after splurging over £200 million (S$354 million) during the transfer window.

“There was certainly balance (missing) there and we worked on that,” he told reporters afterwards.

“That’s part of the process when we’ve brought in new players. When you’re keeping clean sheets and scoring goals, you’re going in the right direction.

“The clean sheets are a great sign of a spine in the team. Thiago Silva and Edouard Mendy have massively helped that but so has the mentality of the group.

“I’m not going to jump up and down after a win like this, but it was a really positive day.”

The Blues are only four points behind league champions Liverpool (16), and Lampard has high expectations that his players will continue to kick on, especially Ziyech.

The Morocco winger, a €40 million (S$63.6 million) arrival from Ajax in the summer, is the first player to score in his first two starts for Chelsea in all competitions since Diego Costa in August 2014.

A knee injury suffered during pre-season meant that Ziyech made his first league start for the Blues only on Saturday, but he is fast becoming one of the first names on the team sheet.

“I really like him as a personality,” Lampard said. “I had conversations with him very early when we signed him and was struck by his confidence.

“We needed that. We need players with confidence and personality who believe they should be here and want to offer something. He has been an absolute dream to work with… he has made himself at home in a short space of time.”

REUTERS