Frank Lampard put Willian's future in the hands of Chelsea officials but hopes the in-form winger will be rewarded with a new contract.

Brazil international Willian has so far made a compelling case for an extension to his existing deal, which expires at the end of the season.

The 31-year-old assisted Tammy Abraham's opener in the weekend win over Crystal Palace and has scored in victories against Brighton and Hove Albion, Lille and Burnley this term.

His performances have eased the pressure on the younger members of Lampard's squad and the Blues boss made his appreciation clear following Saturday's 2-0 triumph at Stamford Bridge.

But he also admitted the final decision on fresh terms will not be his to make.

"The word isn't 'no-brainer' because I can't get involved in the money. That's up to the club to do," Lampard said.

"But everyone sees how much I'm relying on him and picking him and, in what he is producing, I love him at this football club. So there's my answer.

"I know his qualities from playing with him but when I looked at Willy over the last couple of years, he was in and out of the team. You're not sure, from the outside [what's happening]. I want to see him happy.

"Willy is a happy, easygoing lad who loves his football and that was the first thing I said to him at the start of the season.

"I saw him being huge in the way I wanted to play. Naturally, on the ball, we all know his ability to go by [markers] one-v-one and shift people and cross or get shots away.

"But his off-the-ball work is an outstanding example for Callum Hudson-Odoi, for Christian Pulisic, for other young players who think the only part of the game is going by people, crossing or shooting."

Lampard continued: "He does the other side brilliantly with absolute humility. He's been a joy and one of the experienced players who is helping the young boys."

Willian recently confirmed Chelsea turned down an offer for his services from Barcelona in 2018.

Chelsea head coach Frank Lampard commended Reece James' handling of Wilfried Zaha on the right-back's first Premier League start in Saturday's 2-0 win over Crystal Palace.

James, 19, spent last season on loan at Wigan Athletic and gained rave reviews for his performances, earning himself a place in Chelsea's squad for Lampard's first campaign at the helm.

The full-back suffered ankle ligament damage in August that prevented him from making much of an impact during the early stages of the season.

Lampard took the opportunity to test him and rest Cesar Azpilicueta for the visit of Palace and he put in an accomplished display, coping well with Zaha and showing his ability on the ball.

The Blues boss was impressed but also stressed the importance of first-choice right-back Azpilicueta.

When asked about informing Azpilicueta of his decision to play James, Lampard told reporters: "It's part of my job.

"It would be a tougher call if I was speaking to Azpilicueta when he is having a difficult time and I am bringing a kid in to say this is a decision I am making. It is actually a decision [I've made] when Azpilicueta is playing really well for us.

"He's a leader and a driver, but Reece and the way he is playing, I thought with the opportunity to give him minutes in a game today was one I had to take. It gives me options going forward.

"Azpi is such a great personality and character that he is easy to speak to. He feels for the club and wants the best, that shows how much I value him now and going forward.

"It might give me some selection problems for sure, but I want the best for the team. It is a nice problem.

"I thought Reece was fantastic against one of the best wingers in the league one-v-one, a real threat and on the counter-attack.

"Reece dealt with most of those situations and he also joined in the attack. You can see how comfortable he is with the ball and his delivery and passing, so I was pleased.

"I trust in Reece and, out of all of the younger players who have been getting chances this year – he has had his injury earlier in the season – he has got fit that little bit later.

"But he has been training at a level and coming on at a level where he deserves his minutes today. He did brilliantly."

It was put to Roy Hodgson that Zaha was a disappointment, but the Palace boss hit back at the suggestion.

"You're asking me now to comment on individual performances, in every game of football," Hodgson said. "They have just won the game, Chelsea. So, if you want Frank to give individual assessments of players then he will probably say, 'He was fantastic, another not so good.'

"Wilf is doing what he needs for the team, he is working hard for the team. Against Arsenal he had an incredible game, and against Leicester. Perhaps today he wasn't at his very best, but that is what football is, unfortunately.

"They are human beings. You can't legislate people sometimes having a really good game the way you'd like, but what you can legislate for is the work they are putting in and adhere to the team's play and plan, and in that respect, I thought Wilf was as good as anybody out there."

Frank Lampard has called on Tammy Abraham to look up to England team-mate Harry Kane after the Chelsea striker joined Jamie Vardy at the top of the Premier League scoring charts.

Abraham opened the scoring at Stamford Bridge against Crystal Palace on Saturday, tucking home from close range to take his league tally this season to 10.

The 22-year-old's opener was followed up by a header from the in-form Christian Pulisic, as the Blues - temporarily at least - moved second with a 2-0 win.

Asked if Abraham can offer serious competition to Kane for an England starting spot, Lampard said the youngster still has a long way to go but believes the Tottenham star sets a perfect example.

"Harry Kane's an incredible player," Lampard told BBC Sport. "What he's done in recent years and his career is amazing, so Tammy needs to look up to that and if he can keep reproducing and scoring goals at that kind of level, that's the next stage for Tammy. 

"What he's shown in these first few months is that there are so many parts to his game. 

"[There was] not much space today because of how Palace play but I told him at half-time just to stick with it, it's one of those games that forwards will have where they work a lot for not much, but maybe a goal and he did that."

Lampard named Chelsea's youngest starting XI in a Premier League match for Saturday's encounter, as the Blues went on to secure a sixth successive top-flight win.

Lampard has now tasked his side with replicating their form over the course of the campaign.

"We certainly deserved to win the game. The first half was frustrating because we had all of the game, had some chances but not enough clear-cut ones, let the tempo drop slightly," he said.

"As soon as we picked it up in the second half I thought we got a deserved win with two clinical goals and a clean sheet.

"They are [consistent] because we're on a good run and with the older players the balance is pretty good, the older players help the younger ones. The young ones have to realise very quickly what this level is, and it's tough.

"But they're working very hard, improving. It's still early days in a way, so can we replicate it through a longer period is the next test."

When Mateo Kovacic re-joined Chelsea in a reported £45million deal after spending last season on loan at Stamford Bridge, it's fair to say the news wasn't met with much more than a shrug from most.

A tidy player, undoubtedly, but Kovacic's debut campaign at Chelsea did little to hush those who have expected more from him since moving to Real Madrid after very promising spells with Dinamo Zagreb and Inter earlier in his career.

Fading in and out of matches, struggling to dictate play and seemingly unable to completely convince Maurizio Sarri, Kovacic generally looked like a square peg in a round hole.

Although he made 21 Premier League starts, he completed 90 minutes just twice and failed to dislodge Ross Barkley, whose own tale of somewhat unfulfilled potential is perhaps comparable.

But under Frank Lampard this season, Kovacic looks to be on the right track and showed evidence he is stepping out of Jorginho's shadow in Saturday's 2-0 win over Crystal Palace.

For all the praise Lampard's young team – which on Saturday was the youngest it, or any previous Chelsea starting XI, has been in the Premier League – has received this season, their first-half showing highlighted deficiencies.

Vicente Guaita in the Palace goal was barely worked despite Chelsea's dominance, with three of their first eight shots coming from free-kicks, while there were also a couple of long-distance efforts.

A lack of impetus in the final third was laid bare without the suspended Jorginho, as Tammy Abraham only had a solitary shot before half-time.

While Kovacic caught the eye with some powerful runs from deep and Christian Pulisic's trickery on the ball left Palace defenders in knots on a couple of occasions, their general build-up play was a little predictable and the final pass unable to cut through the visitors' packed defence.

Chelsea would have been well aware of how Palace planned to set up. They are notoriously effective away from home, with their record of 11 Premier League wins on the road since the start of last season bettered by only Liverpool, Manchester City (both 18) and Chelsea (14).

Jorginho's usual influence was particularly notable by its absence.

Having been a frequent target of Chelsea fans last season, often booed and jeered by Blues supporters, he has gone about his business very effectively this term.

No player had attempted or completed more passes (865/765) than the Italian in the Premier League in 2019-20 before Saturday, while his 125 passes into the final third was also unmatched, proving there is far more to his game than simply nudging possession on to a team-mate five yards away.

Without Jorginho's vision and incisiveness, Chelsea's attackers were already at a disadvantage.

But, while it wouldn't have been fair to expect Kovacic to fill exactly the same role, he did exhibit solid evidence of his own marked improvement and was crucial in breaking Palace down.

His unique spin on the deep-lying playmaker position ultimately proved vital as Chelsea ended Palace's resistance in the 52nd minute – he darted in off the left flank, skipped past two defenders and prodded a pass through to Willian, whose clever flick released Abraham for an easy finish.

For all Jorginho's ability, it was an action one almost certainly wouldn't have seen from the former Napoli schemer.

Kovacic's role in Chelsea's second was rather more Jorginho, however.

Receiving the ball from the back and just inside his own half, Kovacic noticed Pulisic in space on the left and drove an inch-perfect cross-field pass right to him. He cut inside and found Michy Batshuayi, whose deflected shot sat up kindly for the American, who nodded past Guaita.

Although it wasn't Kovacic's name on the scoresheet, he finished the match leaving little doubt of his growing influence.

If he continues on his current trajectory, the only shrugging from Chelsea fans will come after inspirational performances - he has the capability for such effectiveness to be his norm.

Frank Lampard has opened up on his "awkward" pre-match superstitions and says he fears results going against Chelsea if he does not stick to his usual routine.

The 41-year-old was named Premier League manager of the month for October on Friday, after winning three games from three last month.

However, Lampard confessed he fears the perceived curse that sees recipients of the award lose their next match, which he put down to being "relatively superstitious".

Asked to elaborate on his habits in the build-up to games, Lampard said: "I have my routines, like walking the dog, certain times I leave, the boots I'm wearing - little bits and bobs. It's more routine than structure, which can be quite awkward.

"I walk the dog at certain times and on certain days. The day before training, I will walk her at a certain time, for a certain route. Nothing that exciting.

"I take her out in the morning. I go out early before I leave, I take her down to the local coffee shop, get my takeaway coffee, walk around, pick up her poo, put it in the bin, walk her home then go to training.

"I find walking the dog quite good for clearing the head. I like to go to the gym as well - that's another one of my superstitions. I have to spend the same amount of time on the bike - 50 minutes - or the amount that I run. Things like that. I'm still sweating now. I've just been doing it."

He added: "If I don't do them, then I can feel like, ridiculously, as if it might have an effect on the result. Sometimes I do miss the dog walk for whatever reason. I'm also a relatively new dad, my daughter is a year and a bit, so sometimes I have to do other things. So it does not absolutely hold me down."

"I like going to the gym, I like walking the dog, I like eating pasta as a pre-match meal, so I stick with certain things. And then if we don't win..."

Lampard's rituals go back to his playing days at Chelsea, where he shared a dressing room with John Terry.

"It was very commonplace in my playing days," he said. "John used to do it a lot. John was very structured in his build-up.

"For me, I think we are all different, and I don't completely rely on it. I joke a little bit, but I think it shows how much you want to do well and win sometimes, whether it has an effect or not. And I think if that's in your mindset, that's not the worst thing, albeit it might become a bit annoying sometimes if you stick to it."

Lampard's side are fourth in the Premier League ahead of Saturday's home match against London rivals Crystal Palace.

Frank Lampard is wary of the manager of the month "curse" after he and Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy earned the Premier League awards for October.

Chelsea triumphed in all three league games they played last month, seeing a seven-match winning run finally ended in the EFL Cup on October 30, to earn Lampard the division's top coaching gong.

Meanwhile, Vardy scored four Premier League goals - including a hat-trick in the record-breaking 9-0 demolition of Southampton - for high-flying Leicester.

Discussing his recognition in a news conference on Friday, Lampard was asked about the "curse" that sees recipients of the manager of the month award lose their next match.

Lampard revealed he was superstitious as a player and so had considered this when learning of his prize.

"I have heard of it. I know of it and I am relatively superstitious," he said. "I was always as a player and I have carried it into my management.

"So hopefully the players can go out and prove the curse wrong tomorrow, because we want to keep our momentum."

Lampard was pleased with the award, though, while insisting the club as a whole deserved to be credited.

"It doesn't confirm to me that I am doing a good job, albeit it is a nice award to get on an individual basis," he said.

"It certainly is an award that relates to much more than that for what the club is doing and the people working behind the scenes. I appreciate it and I receive it for not just myself."

Ruben Loftus-Cheek is still set to be out for "a while" due to injury but Antonio Rudiger could be back in full training in three weeks' time, Chelsea boss Frank Lampard has said.

Chelsea have been without England international Loftus-Cheek since he ruptured his Achilles tendon in May.

The midfielder claimed this week he was "close" to a return, but head coach Lampard suggests this is not the case.

Lampard is keen for a patient approach to be taken with Loftus-Cheek, although he understands the player's desperation to get back playing.

"It's a long road," the Blues boss told a news conference. "It's a difficult one for Ruben, because we want him back, we all know his quality. But it's going to be a while, it's going to be a while.

"I feel for him, because people will ask and the thing to say would be, 'Yeah, I'm really pushing on, it might be next week, it might be next month'.

"But I don't think that's quite the case. We need to let him get on with it. We're all supporting him here. There's no immediate news."

A similar situation occurred last week with Rudiger, who has played just once since a serious knee injury in April.

The Germany defender declared himself fit but Lampard intervened, revealing the player would be visiting a consultant due to an ongoing groin issue.

Lampard provided an update on Friday, though, and is now hopeful the problem has been solved.

"[Rudiger] had an operation and he's going to be out for probably about three weeks hopefully," Lampard said. "Then we'll have to see how the match fitness comes in, because it's a long time Toni's been out now.

"It was nice to get something definitive about it. We've been trying to find a solution, Toni's been having some issues, and it's not easy for someone in that position.

"Hopefully we are at that case now and, in three weeks' time, we'll be in a better place."

He added: "You're going to do well to cover quality players. We've not had N'Golo [Kante] for a big part of the season, Ruben Loftus-Cheek we've not had, Toni, of course, we've not had.

"So that's one of the nice stories in terms of the rest of the squad, but we'll gladly take them all back."

Frank Lampard says Chelsea will be "looking in the mirror" rather than worrying about how their potential Premier League title rivals fare this weekend.

Chelsea are fourth in the table, eight points behind leaders Liverpool but six clear of fifth-placed Arsenal.

Liverpool face champions Manchester City, who are currently in second, on Sunday, presenting the opportunity for Chelsea and Leicester City - who are third - to make up ground on the top two.

And Leicester play Arsenal, meaning four of the top five will face off.

Yet head coach Lampard is determined his team will not be concerned by results elsewhere, keen to keep their focus on improving throughout the season.

"We're looking in the mirror at ourselves," he told a news conference ahead of hosting Crystal Palace on Saturday.

"Up and down are things you can't always control - what will be will be with those teams. They have their problems or strong points or whatever.

"What we have to do is look at ourselves week in, week out, look at Crystal Palace tomorrow, go away for the internationals, and then we come back and we play Manchester City. Every week brings the challenge of a game.

"At the moment, we're happy with what we've done but I think we can always get a lot better. That's the only way: I don't think we should look too much anywhere else, rather than within."

Chelsea are managing injury issues in the centre of midfield, with Ross Barkley out since the win over Newcastle United last month while Mason Mount hobbled off against Ajax in midweek.

Both players were named in Gareth Southgate's England squad for the upcoming international break, yet Barkley will not feature at home to Palace, and Mount is a doubt.

"Ross has an ongoing issue, so he's not in the squad for tomorrow," Lampard said.

"It's a conversation I'll have with Gareth or Steve [Holland, England assistant] with Ross and everyone to see how it pans out for him over the next 10 days. I'm not sure on that one, but he won't be in our squad.

"With Mason, he's in the squad, and we're giving him another 24 hours. We'll make a call on that one in the morning [Saturday]."

Chelsea should at least have N'Golo Kante back after he returned to the bench against Ajax and was later named in the France squad. He has not featured since an injury in the previous international break.

Frank Lampard admitted he "cannot explain" Chelsea's 4-4 Champions League draw with Ajax after his side battled back from three goals down against their nine-man opponents.

Tammy Abraham and Kepa Arrizabalaga scored own goals, either side of Jorginho and Quincy Promes netting, as Chelsea conceded three first-half goals for the first time in the competition on Tuesday.

Ajax earned a 4-1 lead 10 minutes into the second half at Stamford Bridge and were 4-2 in front – Cesar Azpilicueta pulling one back – when Daley Blind and Joel Veltman were both dismissed in quick succession.

Hosts Chelsea capitalised on the two-man advantage as Jorginho converted from the penalty spot and Reece James netted 16 minutes from time, but Azpilicueta was denied a late winner by VAR as Abraham was adjudged to have handled the ball in the build-up.

Chelsea are level on seven points with Ajax and Valencia in Group H with two matches remaining and head coach Lampard was ultimately pleased with a draw in London.

"I can't explain the game," he told BT Sport. "For all the things we might analyse back, the madness of the game, we are here for entertainment I suppose and anyone who watched that has to say what a game of football. 

"Respect to Ajax, what a spectacle. I don't think I have been in a game like it. I said at half time it will be 3-3 or 4-4, we were so in the game.

"We looked dangerous and I felt we would build momentum. I am not happy overall - this is the Champions League and we made too many mistakes.

"At half-time I would have taken a draw for sure. Let's take it as what it was."

Chelsea's comeback was no doubt helped by the dismissals of Blind and Veltman in the space of a minute.

Blind was shown a second yellow card for fouling Abraham and defensive team-mate Veltman followed him down the tunnel for handling Callum Hudson-Odoi's shot in the same attacking move, while Azpilicueta's late strike was also controversially ruled out in another game dominated by VAR.

"The red cards and VAR... every manager is talking about VAR," Lampard said at his post-match news conference. 

"I need to watch that back and see them. When you are on the sidelines it is difficult to grasp straight away."

Second-half substitute James made a telling impact from the bench as he became Chelsea's youngest ever Champions League goalscorer at 19 years and 332 days.

"He is a fantastic young player," Lampard said. "I felt we wanted more on the right-hand side. He is going to be a top player. He has got great quality.

"The modern full-back to join in, some are doing in an outstanding way."

However, the teenage defender felt Chelsea should have gone on to claim a third successive European win in the remainder of the match.

"They were hard to break down and we took advantage of them going down to nine men, it was a shame we couldn't win," he told BT Sport.

"Scoring a goal is a bonus. The manager told me to come on and liven the boys up. We had chances to win it but from where we were at half time it's a good result."

Frank Lampard insists he is "very happy" with the players at his disposal as Chelsea appeal against a transfer ban imposed by FIFA.

The Premier League side were blocked from signing new players for two transfer windows in February after breaching rules relating to the international transfer and registration of players under the age of 18.

That ban was partially upheld following Chelsea's initial appeal to FIFA, although the club are still unable to bring in senior players, serving the first part of their suspension in the recent transfer window.

Chelsea were permitted to register players under the age of 16, but the club announced their intention to take the case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, with the hearing date now set for November 20.

Lampard says he is relaxed about the club's transfer situation, given how impressively academy graduates Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount and Fikayo Tomori have taken to life in the first team this season.

Asked for his opinion on the appeal at a news conference ahead of his side's Champions League clash against Ajax on Tuesday, Lampard said: "I'm very interested, but I don't know enough about the legal situation to delve.

"It can effect what we can do, but it is a little down my list. We have games against Ajax and Crystal Palace to think about.

"We are on a good run. We will always look to improve if we can, but I am very happy with what I've got."

After losing to Valencia in their opening Group H game, Chelsea have bounced back with consecutive wins over Lille and Ajax.

They are level on six points with Dutch champions Ajax at the group's summit, but Lampard refuted suggestions the Blues would have one foot in the knockout stages if they overcome Erik ten Hag's side at Stamford Bridge.

"I don't like to say that," he added. "I felt at the start it would be tight. We have had two good results and another one would be great for us. But the danger of Ajax is massive.

"After losing the opening game, we have shown a great reaction. It is expected of Chelsea to go through. It is maybe why we had the reaction after Valencia. We need to have the same attitude as the last results."

Chelsea head coach Frank Lampard has confirmed N'Golo Kante is available for Tuesday's Champions League clash with Ajax.

The France international has not featured since injuring his groin during the warm-up ahead of his country's Euro 2020 qualifier against Iceland on October 14.

After missing five games for the Blues, he returned to training on Monday and is in consideration for the visit of Dutch champions Ajax to Stamford Bridge.

Lampard told a media conference: "He is in the squad. It looks like the injuries are clearing up."

The Chelsea boss, however, was unable to confirm when Antonio Rudiger might return to first-team action.

Rudiger was forced off at half-time in Chelsea's 5-2 victory over Wolves on September 14, which remains his only appearance for the first team since sustaining a knee injury in April.

Chelsea are level with Ajax on six points at the top of Group H, with Valencia two points further back.

 

Frank Lampard believes the next step for his youthful Chelsea side is to sustain their performance levels across the full 90 minutes of matches.

Chelsea picked up their fifth Premier League win in a row on Saturday with a nervy 2-1 victory against bottom of the table Watford at Vicarage Road.

The Blues looked comfortable after opening up a two-goal lead through Tammy Abraham and Christian Pulisic, only for Gerard Deulofeu to pull one back from the penalty spot 10 minutes from time.

And if not for a last-second save from Kepa Arrizabalaga to deny fellow goalkeeper Ben Foster the home side would have snatched a point, which Lampard admits is an area of concern.

"At times we are certainly producing some of the form that I want from us," he said.

"Our work off the ball in some games where we have been pushed hard, like Ajax away and Liverpool, has really pleased me.

"They have worked on that in training to a level where they are fit enough. In periods of games I am pleased with the way we combine and switch the ball. If I've got a gripe it is that we are not sustaining that for long enough at a time."

Chelsea also conceded twice in the final stages of last week's 4-2 win at Burnley and Lampard added: "Maybe it's football. Liverpool go away [to Aston Villa] and are behind for long periods, Manchester City, too.

"So maybe I'm being a bit demanding. You have to respect the opponents. It is not always as easy as it appears and football will always be a work in progress.

"We have young players who have been out on loan who have come in and are working with senior players, so things will always take time to get where you want them to get to."

Chelsea's players were aggrieved with referee Anthony Taylor's decision to award a penalty following a lengthy VAR review after Jorginho was adjudged to have fouled Deulofeu.

Captain Cesar Azpilicueta is unsure if the technology is being used in the correct manner and wants referees to make more use of pitchside monitors.

"We have a lot of meetings about the VAR," he said. "There is a screen on the pitch for the ref to look and see why he made the decision not to whistle for a penalty.

"We are not using the system in the right way, which is something to help the referees make the right decision. They are human, the same as players.

"We make mistakes but why not use the whole system in the right way? That's my big point in this case and in other cases that we have seen. It could help."

Frank Lampard believes the Premier League is "not in a great place" with VAR after the technology intervened to hand Watford a late penalty in Chelsea's 2-1 win at Vicarage Road.

The Blues recorded their fifth straight top-flight victory to move up to third in the table, with Tammy Abraham and Christian Pulisic scoring in either half.

Yet they endured some nervy moments in the closing stages due to Gerard Deulofeu's 80th-minute penalty, which was only awarded following a VAR check after referee Anthony Taylor had initially ignored the Hornets' appeals.

The VAR review deemed Jorginho had tripped Deulofeu, but the contact looked minimal and he appeared to take another step before going to ground.

Chelsea held on - though Kepa Arrizabalaga needed to make a brilliant last-gasp stop from fellow goalkeeper Ben Foster's header when the stopper came up for a free-kick - yet Lampard was angry that Watford were handed a route back into the match with their penalty.

"I have to be careful really but last week we saw a change in VAR, a clear change in penalties getting overturned," Lampard told reporters at his post-match news conference.

"I was at a managers' meeting in midweek and we spoke a lot about it.

"The absolute consensus from managers, referees, the Premier League was the penalties or decisions — this is what I took from the meeting, anyway — are not going to get overturned unless they're absolutely clear and obvious, and the VAR absolutely saw something that the referee on the pitch didn't see.

"This didn't, it nowhere near showed that, and the longer it took, the more worried I got.

"I'm so, so surprised from coming away on Thursday from that meeting to have that decision today."

Last weekend in Chelsea's 4-2 win over Burnley, Lampard's side were awarded a penalty on the field only for the decision to be overturned by VAR, with Callum Hudson-Odoi instead booked for diving.

"I reference back one week to Hudson-Odoi - he goes down, has a hand on the back, gets a yellow card and that's overturned the other way around," Lampard said

"We're not in a great place with it, are we?

"Anything that takes that long means there's something they're not sure about, so why aren't we using the screen at the side of the pitch?"

Lampard added: "We're in a really dangerous place and you're going to be tossing a coin every week to see what decision you're going to get."

Tammy Abraham and Christian Pulisic scored in either half as Chelsea beat Watford 2-1 to move up to third with their fifth straight Premier League win.

The Blues took an early lead against their bottom-of-the-table hosts when Abraham reached Jorginho's pass and guided the ball over Ben Foster.

Watford's goalkeeper denied Abraham, Pulisic and Mason Mount before Chelsea's United States international - who scored a hat-trick against Burnley last weekend - turned home Abraham's cross 10 minutes into the second half.

Gerard Deulofeu scored an 80th-minute penalty - one that was only awarded by VAR following a lengthy delay - but Frank Lampard's side held on to climb above Leicester City in the table.

Watford were up against it after just five minutes when Abraham registered his ninth league goal of the season, though it was his first in five games for the Blues.

The England striker latched onto a brilliant first-time throughball from Jorginho, capitalised on hesitation between Craig Dawson and Foster and poked his finish over the Watford goalkeeper.

Abraham had a great chance to add a second when a deflected Mount shot fell kindly to him, yet he was thwarted by Foster, who then did brilliantly to tip Pulisic's header behind.

Deulofeu fired Watford's first chance of note wide and the Hornets were fortunate to only be one goal behind at the break after Foster pushed Mount's driven effort onto the crossbar.

The goalkeeper denied Mount again early in the second half too, though he was unable to prevent Pulisic turning in Abraham's cross for his fourth goal in eight days.

Pulisic nearly had another but Foster flicked out his left foot and the Hornets had hope when they were awarded a penalty 10 minutes from time.

Referee Anthony Taylor was unmoved when Deulofeu went to ground after Jorginho flicked a leg out and though the Spaniard appeared to take another step after the contact before going to ground, the spot-kick was awarded following a VAR review.

There was nearly a dramatic conclusion to proceedings when the brilliant Foster, up in Chelsea's box for a free-kick, headed towards goal but Kepa Arrizabalaga denied him in the final act as the visitors held on.

 

What does it mean? Blues bounce back to win again

Lampard's squad have encountered few setbacks in recent weeks, but the Blues boss will be delighted they got back to winning ways following their EFL Cup loss to Manchester United in midweek.

After Arsenal were held to a draw by Wolves, Chelsea now have a six-point cushion over the fifth-placed Gunners. Meanwhile, Watford remain winless and look like relegation fodder.

Abraham has another away day to remember

One of the main reasons for Chelsea's fine form on their travels has been Abraham, and he was involved in both goals here.

He was clinical in scoring the opener and then showed an unselfish side to pick out Pulisic.

Dawson's meek

On the two occasions Chelsea players wheeled away in celebration, Watford centre-back Dawson was left looking around wondering how they had scored.

He was flat-footed and caught out when Jorginho whipped the pass through for Abraham early on and then failed to cut the ball out at the near post when Pulisic made it 2-0. 

What's next?

Chelsea will look to take a significant step towards qualifying for the last 16 of the Champions League when they host Ajax on Tuesday before entertaining Crystal Palace in the Premier League in Saturday's early kick-off.

Watford will begin that round of fixtures with a crucial Friday night encounter with Norwich, who are only two points above them.

Frank Lampard has addressed the striking dilemma that he faces at Chelsea after Olivier Giroud was linked with a move away from the club during the week.

The former Arsenal forward is without a goal since August and has slipped behind an in-form Tammy Abraham and Michy Batshuayi in the pecking order.

France manager Didier Deschamps has previously called on Lampard to give the 33-year-old more game time given his importance to the national team, and it's rumoured a return to Ligue 1 could be on the cards in January to maintain that position in France's attack.

All three strikers will likely be involved at Euro 2020 this summer, but Lampard said that does not come into his thinking and he is focused on what happens at club level.

"It's difficult for me and it's difficult for them. I have to care for all the players and pick a squad as I see it for the best of Chelsea as they do for their countries," he told reporters.

"I have three strikers to pick from and I have to make choices, but I can't complain about any of their attitudes.

"Things will look different and that's where you need professionalism. I have had it from all of them.

"I would always have a conversation with a player who says they don't want to play for the football club. We are not at that point yet, so it's not one to discuss right now.

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