EPL

Azpilicueta happy to have 'special' Lampard back at Chelsea

By Sports Desk July 11, 2019

Frank Lampard will set the right example for the Chelsea squad following his return to Stamford Bridge as head coach, according to Cesar Azpilicueta.

Lampard's Chelsea tenure began with a 1-1 draw against Bohemians in the Blues' opening pre-season game in Ireland on Wednesday.

Chelsea's record goalscorer took over as boss on July 4, following an impressive debut season in coaching at the helm of Derby County.

And Azpilicueta has hailed the impact his former team-mate has had on Chelsea's squad, acknowledging that displays under former coach Maurizio Sarri were not always up to scratch.

"It is true that last season, for periods, we didn’t give the fans what they expected," Azpilicueta said. "Our performances were not good enough.

"We turned it around and won the Europa League but you can see that this season all of the fans are very happy we have the gaffer back at the Bridge.

"Now we have to give it back by working hard on the pitch, by winning games. We are very happy to have him with us. I can’t add anything to his career at Chelsea as a player.

"But, over his first week in training, I’ve seen the way he wants to play, the way he wants us to feel the shirt, the way he wants us to train every day, it is something special."

Azpilicueta expanded on his plaudits, adding that Lampard's commitment to Chelsea during his playing career sets the perfect example for the current players to follow.

"He was here for a very long and very successful period, and always set an example: how he wanted to break every record or improve himself in every session," Azpilicueta said.

"We have to be grateful and feel the passion for the shirt. We are very excited and the only way we can carry it on is by winning together, getting the feeling back of being all together as a club.

"We have to take responsibility and know that there are a lot of things [going on] around us, but we have to work hard to get better."

Lampard's first competitive game will be against Manchester United on the opening weekend of the Premier League season, before Chelsea face Champions League winners Liverpool in the UEFA Super Cup on August 14.

Related items

  • San Siro jeers slammed by Inter boss Conte San Siro jeers slammed by Inter boss Conte

    Antonio Conte urged Inter fans to back his side and was disappointed to hear them whistle Friday's lacklustre 0-0 Serie A draw against Roma.

    Inter had moved to the top of the table thanks to last week's 2-1 win over SPAL, while Italian champions Juventus were held 2-2 by Sassuolo.

    Their stay at the summit is set to be short-lived after Inter pair Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez endured a rare off-night in front of goal at San Siro.

    Juve can return to their familiar position by beating Lazio on Saturday and head coach Conte was keen to remind the Inter faithful that his men are punching above their weight by most reasonable measures.

    "The fans must support us and help us, as they are doing, because it is a moment where we must make a virtue of their support," he told Sky Italia.

    "I was sorry to hear a few whistles after wrong passages [of play]. This is not good, we need everyone.

    "They must support us and they must not whistle at the first mistake. 

    "It is not easy to play at the San Siro, many of the boys are young, everyone needs help. 

    "I wanted to say this because I always want to protect the group. We must not become presumptuous, these kids must always be supported."

    Instead of criticising his all-star forward line, Conte chose instead to credit Roma's stand-in goalkeeper Antonio Mirante.

    "Yes [Lukaku and Martinez made mistakes], even if we also have to take into account Mirante's great game, which was the best on the field," he said.

    "When we win, we draw and we lose, we do it all together. The midfielders also had the opportunity to score, not just the forwards.

    "In the second half there was a good opportunity for Matias Vecino that Mirante deflected for a corner."

    Conte added: "We had a good game and we are happy with what we produced. Unfortunately we have not finished, we must be more precise."

  • I wasn't living the way I should - Sterling improvement down to football 'obsession' I wasn't living the way I should - Sterling improvement down to football 'obsession'

    Raheem Sterling believes he has transformed from a player who was not "living the way I should" into a football obsessive.

    Sterling heads into Saturday's derby against Manchester United at the Etihad Stadium as Manchester City's premier attacking threat, particularly in the injury-enforced absence of Sergio Aguero.

    The England forward has become indispensable for club and country, converting his promise into prolific returns over recent seasons.

    Under the guidance of Pep Guardiola, former Liverpool star Sterling blossomed with 18 and 17 goals respectively in City's back-to-back Premier League triumphs in 2017-18 and 2018-19.

    The 24-year-old has eight in 14 top-flight outings this time around, the same number of goals he amassed during England's successful Euro 2020 qualifying campaign.

    "It's all about mentality. Mentality, maturity and growing up," Sterling said.

    "I think now I'm living for football. I'm obsessed with football, obsessed with scoring goals, obsessed with recovering quicker and obsessed with improving myself.

    "You have every facility here so you have to use it to the best of your advantage to try to be the best you can be. I was decisive but I wasn't 100 per cent committed. I wasn't 100 per cent living the way I should be living to be a professional footballer. I realised that and changed it.

    "You see the improvements on the pitch and so that's why you continue to do it. Because you see how you feel on the field and what your output is.

    "You look at what your numbers are doing. It's a good thing and, as a professional, you have to learn, take it in your stride and keep learning. That’s all I do."

    An uncomfortable number for City to look at right now is the 11-point gap between themselves and Premier League leaders Liverpool.

    Jurgen Klopp's men won 3-1 when the sides met at Anfield last month and have only dropped two points all season, although Sterling is not giving up on three consecutive league titles just yet.

    "We just need to keep winning games and hope they lose some," he said.

    "It's as simple as that. They're playing some good football at the moment, but it's a long season. We have got to keep winning, keep believing.

    "Football is a funny game and in one moment it can change. You have to be ready. At the moment, they're leading, and we just have to keep working and keep winning."

    First of all, that means no slip ups against United, who won two and drew one of the previous three derbies at the Etihad Stadium before City ran out 3-1 winners last term.

    "We're always fighting against each other to be the number one team in the city," Sterling added.

    "That's always a great thing to do. Both teams have great players and great managers; I think this weekend we'll show nothing less.

    "Playing against United is always difficult and we know it'll be a tough game."

  • Millwall 2-2 Nottingham Forest: Late drama as late equaliser rescues Lions Millwall 2-2 Nottingham Forest: Late drama as late equaliser rescues Lions

    Aiden O'Brien equalised deep into second-half stoppage time as Millwall salvaged a 2-2 draw against Nottingham Forest in the Championship on Friday.

    Millwall were deservedly ahead at the interval thanks to Shaun Williams' header from a corner in the 15th minute, but their superiority did not last.

    Lewis Grabban made a stunning impact from the Forest bench when he scored with his first touch 55 seconds after coming on, nodding in from close range.

    He then appeared to have won the game for Forest by tapping in from Sammy Ameobi's ball in the 88th minute.

    But O'Brien rescued a point for the Lions near the end, the Republic of Ireland international turning home after Brice Samba could only palm Williams' long-range effort into his path.

    Forest remain fourth in the table but could be overtaken by several teams over the weekend. Millwall move up to 11th.

© 2018 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.