Frank Lampard urged his Chelsea players to prove they have the courage to cope with adversity after Bournemouth snatched a shock 1-0 win at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.
Lampard’s side were beaten for the fourth time in their last five Premier League games as Dan Gosling netted a VAR-reviewed winner with just six minutes left.
It was a bitter blow for Lampard after Chelsea once again failed to deal with a team intent on defending deep and attacking on the counter.
Not for the first time this season, the Blues dominated possession on home turf without showing the cutting edge needed to break down stubborn Bournemouth, who had arrived in freezing west London on a run of five consecutive defeats.
Lampard believes the root cause of Chelsea’s malaise is their inability to kill teams off, and he puts that down to a lack of conviction in the final third.
Questioning the personality of a young team on the rocks for the first time following their fine start in his first season in charge, Lampard said: “Now we have the reality. If we are not at our best, if players can’t find the quality to beat teams that are organised then we have to find another way.
“We didn’t get the fans excited enough. If we play 10 balls across our back four that’s not surprising. If I’m a fan sitting there today I would say ‘too slow’. I don’t want to blame them for that.’
“Some responsibility is on the players to take the ball and have the balls to excite the fans.
“We have to have some personality. When a team wants to defend against you, that’s another test. We haven’t done well with that.”
– Nerves and stress –
Chelsea have scored only 11 goals at home this season and Lampard acknowledged his players are struggling to deal with the pressure that mounts the longer a game goes without a goal for his team.
“With that comes nerves and stress in the team and the stadium. We need urgency in our play, transfer the ball quickly, get at people, do things that are positive, don’t play safe, we generally play too safe during games,” he said.
“I don’t know about fear but in front of our home fans it’s evident we aren’t playing well enough. We aren’t taking our chances and we have given away some silly goals.”
Chelsea remain in fourth place despite their recent slump but they will have to improve dramatically to stay there.
With London derbies looming at Tottenham and Arsenal over the Christmas period, Lampard could be forgiven for giving his players an intensive training period in a bid to shake them out of their lethargy.
But the former Chelsea midfielder insisted he couldn’t fault their effort.
Asked how he would have responded to this kind of slump in his glittering playing career, Lampard said: “I don’t want to talk about my days. I’m not going to get the players in for training tomorrow and go over the video.
“I can’t find anyone wanting with how they apply themselves but what we do on the pitch is being found wanting at the moment.”
Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe hopes the result can rebuild his side’s confidence after a dismal stretch of one win in 10 games.
“We certainly needed it. A lot of soul searching has gone on. This was the best we’ve fought and competed,” Howe said after Gosling’s hooked effort survived a lengthy VAR check for offside.
“We needed a slice of luck, something to bounce our way. That could be the moment that turns our fortunes and gives us belief.”