EPL

Lampard dismisses Gunners relegation talk: We have to expect the best Arsenal

By Sports Desk December 23, 2020

Frank Lampard would not be drawn into discussing a potential Arsenal relegation battle, describing Chelsea's next opponents simply as "a high-quality team".

Arsenal, 13-time English champions, are winless in seven in the Premier League - one shy of their longest run without victory in the competition - and just four points clear of the bottom three in 15th place.

Mikel Arteta's problems are continuing to pile up, with the Gunners exiting the EFL Cup following a 4-1 home loss to Manchester City and former mentor Pep Guardiola on Tuesday.

The fixtures are not getting any kinder for Arsenal, whose 12-match unbeaten Boxing Day stretch will be tested by Chelsea at Emirates Stadium on Saturday.

They then visit Brighton and Hove Albion and West Brom, where further defeats to two sides below them in the table could make a battle against the drop a serious prospect.

"I don't want to talk about what their battle is," Lampard told a news conference before this weekend's match against the side that beat Chelsea in this year's FA Cup final. "They're just a good team with a good manager.

"They've had some tough results recently, but the general wave of the Premier League this season for every team has been a bit more inconsistent than it has probably been in previous seasons.

"My concern isn't where they're at. My concern is at face value, their quality; they're a high-quality team."

Relegated teams like West Ham and Newcastle United have previously been considered 'too good to go down', but Lampard was not interesting in assessing Arsenal's chances.

"I don't want to talk about that conversation," he fired back. "I don't get what the point is. We're playing Arsenal on Boxing Day, I don't want to talk about teams and relegation battles."

Lampard expects the prize of a derby win over Chelsea could motivate Arsenal, meanwhile. Two of the Gunners' four wins this term have come against London rivals in Fulham and West Ham.

"When you play a derby, form does go out the window," the Blues coach said. "Sometimes the idea of playing a derby is the spur that the team needs to try to get a result.

"We have to expect the best Arsenal, which is a really good footballing team with really good players, well coached, rotations in their team, lots of threats in attacking areas.

"That's what I expect, so we have to prepare for that."

Reece James and Ben Chilwell are both doubt and Hakim Ziyech will not be fit to return, although Lampard is not concerned by the ex-Ajax man's injuries.

"He had an injury in his knee at the start of the season and then he's just had another muscle injury," he added. "You have to wait for it to recover.

"I wouldn't say it's a long-term concern. We hope to have him back in the next week or so and have him offer what he was offering before."

Ziyech has played just 390 minutes across seven games so far in his Premier League career, but he has already scored once and created 12 chances, leading to a trio of assists.

Related items

  • Tottenham 4-0 Burnley: Brilliant Bale at the double for Mourinho's men Tottenham 4-0 Burnley: Brilliant Bale at the double for Mourinho's men

    Gareth Bale marked his return to a Premier League starting line-up with a brace in Tottenham's 4-0 thumping of Burnley.

    Bale had only been named from kick-off twice in the top flight since re-joining Spurs from Real Madrid last September, but a goal in each leg of the Europa League win over Wolfsberger AC persuaded Jose Mourinho to give the Wales international a chance.

    Tottenham's recent run of five defeats in their past six Premier League matches became a fast fading memory as Bale notched after 68 seconds and set up Harry Kane's second.

    It was 3-0 after the half hour thanks to Lucas Moura, who kept Dele Alli on the bench despite the England midfielder's similarly impressive European form, and Bale's eighth goal of his second Tottenham spell came in the 55th minute.

    Bale wasted little time in making the most of his selection by stealing in behind a sleeping Burnley defence to convert Son Heung-min's cross – Nick Pope having charitably stayed on his line.

    There was fleeting defiance from the visitors, with Davinson Sanchez forced to make a last-ditch challenge on Jay Rodriguez.

    Pope denied Lucas at close quarters before Bale was given time and space to send a raking ball into Kane's path in the 15th minute.

    The England captain advanced infield from the left and rifled home an emphatic finish.

    Any lingering doubt over the result was put to bed when Sergio Reguilon's cross clipped off James Tarkowski and Lucas pounced.

    Burnley's misery deepened nine minutes into the second half with Bale allowed room for a touch and a clinical finish after Son played the provider once more.

    Lucas and Bale made way but Kane and Son remained a nuisance for the Clarets.

    Pope pushed over a swerving drive from the England captain before getting down sharply to deny Son.

     

  • Rashford leads Man Utd line against Chelsea as Tuchel benches Werner Rashford leads Man Utd line against Chelsea as Tuchel benches Werner

    Marcus Rashford was tasked with leading Manchester United's attack at Stamford Bridge, while Timo Werner dropped to the Chelsea bench.

    Ole Gunnar Solskjaer declared on Friday that he was unsure if Cavani, who has had a positive impact this season since arriving on a free transfer from Paris Saint-Germain, would overcome a knock which has kept him out since mid-February.

    Paul Pogba was a confirmed absentee, however, and neither player featured as Solskjaer made five changes to his United team.

    Rashford, who has been involved in seven goals in all competitions against Chelsea (five goals, two assists) – more than against any other side in his career – was instead given the central role that Anthony Martial had started in against Real Sociedad on Thursday.

    That was one of five changes made by Solskjaer, who also brought back Luke Shaw, Harry Maguire, Scott McTominay and David de Gea.

    United are unbeaten in 19 Premier League away games (W13 D6), a run that began with a 2-0 win at Chelsea in February 2020. 

    This is the Red Devils' longest unbeaten away run in their top-flight history, though their previous longest of 17 between December 1998-September 1999 ended with a 5-0 defeat at Stamford Bridge, and Thomas Tuchel's Chelsea team have been in strong form.

    After a frustrating draw with Southampton last week, Chelsea beat Atletico Madrid in the Champions League thanks to Olivier Giroud's stunning winner.

    Giroud is rewarded with a start up top, with Tuchel making three alterations.

    One of the players to drop out is Werner, who ended his long goalscoring drought in Chelsea's last home game – a 2-0 victory over Newcastle United.

    Hakim Ziyech is in to partner Mason Mount – who has scored two goals in his last three Premier League games, as many as in his previous 21 in the competition – behind Giroud, with N'Golo Kante replacing Jorginho in midfield and Ben Chilwell coming in at left wing-back.

    Opposite Chilwell, Callum Hudson-Odoi retains his place, despite the youngster being subbed on and subbed off in the draw with Southampton.

    The away team has won all four of the previous managerial matches between Tuchel and Solskjaer, with all of those games taking place between United and PSG in the Champions League.

  • Inter 3-0 Genoa: Lukaku & Sanchez keep Serie A leaders on course Inter 3-0 Genoa: Lukaku & Sanchez keep Serie A leaders on course

    Inter's Serie A title charge remains on course after goals from Romelu Lukaku, Matteo Darmian and Alexis Sanchez sealed a 3-0 win over Genoa at San Siro on Sunday. 

    Belgium international Lukaku set them on their way to a fifth consecutive top-flight win with a goal inside the opening minute. 

    Antonio Conte's side largely dominated proceedings thereafter, with Nicolo Barella striking the crossbar, and they wrapped up all three points in the second period through Darmian and Sanchez.

    The result moved them seven points ahead of second-placed Milan, although Stefano Pioli's side can rein them back in with victory over Roma later on Sunday.

    Inter started in blistering fashion, Lukaku firing into Mattia Perin's bottom-right corner from just outside the penalty area after 32 seconds – Inter's second-fastest Serie A goal since Opta started tracking such data in 2004-05.

    Darmian clipped wide after 14 minutes, while Barella hit the bar with a long-range effort soon after.

    Perin then kept out Lukaku's powerful strike shortly after the half-hour mark as Inter ultimately failed to double their advantage before the interval.

    The hosts put the result beyond doubt in the 69th minute when Darmian lashed home his first Serie A goal for the club from 12 yards after being picked out by Lukaku. 

    Substitute Sanchez then added gloss to the scoreline 13 minutes from full-time, heading in from close range after Lukaku's effort had been repelled by Perin. 

     

     

     

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.