Frank Lampard insisted Chelsea have a lot of hard work ahead to reach the level of Premier League champions Liverpool and Manchester City following their shock loss at lowly West Ham.

Chelsea suffered a surprise 3-2 defeat to West Ham, who moved three points clear of the relegation zone thanks to Andriy Yarmolenko's 89th-minute winner at the London Stadium.

Willian's brace was not enough for Chelsea to secure at least a point away from home – the result ending the club's six-game unbeaten streak in all competitions.

Chelsea remain fourth in the table, just two points clear of in-form Manchester United and Wolves with six matches remaining in the race for Champions League qualification.

Asked if he was concerned that Chelsea had a mental issue following their inconsistent form in 2019-20, head coach Lampard told reporters: "It's something that has happened a few times this season.

"We've had opportunities to close gaps and jump over teams because of other results or whatever situation.

"But we haven't done it and that's a sign of where we are. We know we have a lot of hard work to do to get where we want to be and the reason the rest of us are chasing Liverpool and Man City is because of the consistency that develops over time. That's what we have to work towards.

"It's obviously frustrating but if we're in that position it's how you bounce back, how you move forward. We have Watford now at the weekend and games after that to try and carry on.

"We have to realise the position we are in in terms of fighting for the Champions League places and move forward."

While Chelsea – who will welcome relegation-threatened Watford to Stamford Bridge on Saturday – lost their 10th game of the campaign, Christian Pulisic was a shining light against West Ham midweek.

Pulisic earned the 42nd-minute penalty which Willian converted before winning the free-kick that was also put away by his Brazilian team-mate with 18 minutes remaining.

"A big positive," Lampard said. "He's playing really well, as we can all see. Him and Willian as well. Willian gets his two goals. But with Christian I think it's more like earlier in the season when he had a patch in the run up to Christmas where he was playing towards his level.

"Then he got injured and has been out for a long time. It's nice to see him back, fresh and hungry, and playing with the quality he has. He's a young player with great talent."

Chelsea head coach Frank Lampard lamented his team's inconsistency and errors after suffering a surprise loss at West Ham in the Premier League, which opened the door for rivals Manchester United and Wolves.

Andriy Yarmolenko came off the bench and scored the 89th-minute winner as West Ham stunned London rivals Chelsea 3-2 on Wednesday.

Willian had netted a brace with a wonderful free-kick 18 minutes from the end to restore parity after Tomas Soucek and Michail Antonio had put West Ham ahead following the Chelsea star's 42nd-minute penalty.

But Yarmolenko's last-gasp goal lifted West Ham three points above the relegation zone, while ending Chelsea's six-game unbeaten streak in all competitions.

The result left Chelsea just two points clear of in-form United and Wolves in fourth position – the final Champions League spot – with six matches remaining.

Lampard vented his frustration afterwards, insisting Chelsea should have won at the London Stadium.

"It's the story of our season," Lampard told Sky Sports. "It's been a good season but there have been so many of these moments. We had an opportunity today to go through but you have to do every part of the game to get results.

"If you switch off or make one or two errors then you will encourage teams. Players have to show an extra mentality to get through these games.

"I get to see this group closely and I've seen us play great games then have moments where there's the opportunity to capitalise and that's the difference at the moment. We have work to do.

"There's without a doubt a good group of players in there but then when you analyse the consistency, you feel a game like this is coming. Again, that shows there's work to do.

"If we are opening up to try and score that winning goal then we have to be prepared to run back the other way and defend. And defend better.

"We are two points ahead of Manchester United, who have been playing fantastic and are on a great run, Wolves are having a great season and they're behind us, Leicester have had a great season and we're just behind them.

"It's about perspective. We are upset because we wanted to win the game, we're footballers and we're in a good position. So there's no point in being down but I can't help but say the truth today which is that it's a game we should have won tonight."

Super-sub Andriy Yarmolenko scored a last-gasp winner to give West Ham's Premier League survival hopes a huge boost in a thrilling 3-2 victory over Chelsea at the London Stadium.

Introduced in the 78th minute for Jarrod Bowen, who had earlier set up goals for Tomas Soucek and Michail Antonio, Yarmolenko coolly slotted home at the end of a swift counter-attack to stun Chelsea.

The vital result lifts David Moyes' side three points above the relegation zone, while Chelsea - for whom Willian scored twice, including a stunning free-kick - missed the chance to climb to third.

It is the first time the Hammers, who won the reverse fixture 1-0, have done the league double over the Blues since the 2002-03 season, although they were somewhat ominously relegated in that campaign.

Frank Lampard insists he retains huge belief in Mason Mount, despite substituting the Chelsea midfielder at half-time in the FA Cup quarter-final at Leicester City.

Lampard was disgruntled with the Blues' first-half display at the King Power Stadium, with Mount and fellow youngsters Reece James and Billy Gilmour hooked.

Mount's replacement Ross Barkley netted the winning goal to book a semi-final showdown against Manchester United.

Nevertheless, speaking ahead of Wednesday's London derby at West Ham, Lampard insisted the standing of a player he took on loan to Derby County last season before overseeing a breakthrough at Premier League and international level is not at all diminished.

"I rely on Mason a lot. I did at Derby, I do at Chelsea," Lampard said, with Mount's 44 appearances in all competitions this season acting to back up his point.

"He brings so much to the team in his work ethic and the way he can start up a press in midfield. And then obviously his quality on the ball, which is only going to get better and it's already at a really high level.

"Mason wouldn't have been happy going off at half-time. I know that because, a bit like myself, I know that when he's not playing he's not happy and if he comes off he won't be happy.

"It was certainly a moment where he should be not happy that evening and then straight back to it afterwards because he knows how much I trust in him.

"He works brilliantly every day. And when I talk about Mason, I'm talking about Reece and Billy in the same breath.

"There'll be no problem at all with Mason. I had to make a decision and it doesn't affect my thinking for West Ham or going forwards."

A match against West Ham is one to relish for Mount, given it brings him into direct competition with childhood friend Declan Rice – something Lampard acknowledges can be a motivating factor.

"I think it spurs you on more if you have a personal relationship in either way – whether they're your best friend or you don't like each other," he said.

"I always think the result of that is not concrete either. You can have your best games in those circumstances and also become overly focused on that relationship and have not-so-good games.

"They're two very good young players. The only thing I ask of Mason going into this one is that he texts him tonight and smiles at him with a tongue or whatever it is, but if and when they go up against each other he has to try and beat him in every individual battle that he possibly can.

"And, sensing Declan Rice's character, I think they'll both be like-minded on that one."

Rice and Mount fell foul of UK lockdown restrictions when they were seen sharing a kickabout earlier in the coronavirus crisis.

Chelsea reminded the 21-year-old of his responsibilities at the time and Lampard was quick to draw a line under the incident.

"I saw Mason in a couple of places compared to players who went out partying and stayed up all night and did different things," he added.

"I'm not wanting to angle on that, but what I want to say is Mason was very innocently and naively and wrongly – he held his hands up to that at the time – kicking a ball about. That's so typical of Mason, how he lives his life.

"I had the shortest ever conversation with Mason. He was pretty apologetic that he got it wrong straight away and we moved on."

Frank Lampard rejected suggestions Chelsea are set to sign Manchester United youngster Angel Gomes.

The 19-year-old midfielder is out of contract at Old Trafford this week and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said on Monday that he expected Gomes to leave after new terms were not agreed.

Newspaper reports in the UK claimed Gomes had a deal on the table from Chelsea but Lampard told a news conference to preview Wednesday's game at West Ham that this is not something he is aware of.

"I can elaborate to the point that it's never been mentioned at my end. That's it," he said.

Lampard was similarly in no mood to discuss Declan Rice, the West Ham midfielder who has been linked with switching east London for west.

"Declan Rice is a good player, I've known Declan for a long time. He was at Chelsea's academy.

"But there's no talk – I keep saying that about every player that we're asked about – until this season's finished. There's nothing to say."

Looking ahead to who the next transfer might be is perhaps inevitable after Chelsea moved swiftly and in eye-catching fashion to secure Hakim Ziyech and Timo Werner from Ajax and RB Leipzig respectively.

From Wednesday, both men officially become Chelsea players and Lampard is pondering how to integrate them as their new team-mates conclude the relaunched Premier League season.

Ziyech has been out of action since March after the Eredivisie was cancelled, while Werner concluded his final Bundesliga campaign with Leipzig at the weekend.

"I'm in the process of arranging that plan now," Lampard explained. "They do become our players, they also are in different positions in the fact that Hakim hasn't played for a long time because of the Dutch league situation, while Timo finished at the weekend.

"We will formulate a plan for them that will look slightly different individually. I'll decide in the meantime how it looks at Cobham, at the training ground – whether that means mixing with the squad or it means some physical work in the short-term for themselves.

"It'll be up to how we arrange the plan because the first issue now is how we finish the season, that's my main focus.

"In terms of the two players individually, we have to make sure they arrive with good fitness levels and freshness levels for next season.

"They will have a longer break than the players we've already got in the squad, so I'll take that firmly into account. When I feel it's the right time to bring them in and around the squad this season, I can do that, if not the absolute priority is making sure they're fit and ready for next."

Lampard will make late calls on Christian Pulisic (calf) and Andreas Christensen (hip) ahead of the game against West Ham, with his team seeking to make it six consecutive wins in all competitions.

 

Frank Lampard has no concerns over Chelsea's young players, despite conceding his side were far below their best against Leicester City.

Ross Barkley came on from the bench to score in the 63rd minute on Sunday, securing a 1-0 victory to send Chelsea through to the FA Cup semi-finals, with Manchester United up next on July 18 or 19.

However, Lampard's side were second best in the first half, with the Blues boss making three changes at half-time – Barkley being one of the alterations. 

Mason Mount, Billy Gilmour and Reece James were the players to make way, but Lampard insists he has full confidence in the young trio.

"The first half wasn't what we're used to in terms of performance this season," Lampard, who took advantage of the temporary rule allowing five substitutions, told a news conference.

"We seriously lacked urgency and intensity in the first half, so the three subs... I probably could have made more subs or different subs.

"Of course, if we didn't have the extra subs, I wouldn't make the three at half-time, but the reason the subs are here is because they are trying to prevent injury and understand that the players have missed a proper pre-season.

"We can probably look at that we had three big games in a week, a very difficult game on Thursday, so I'll allow us a bit of credit, and the fact they showed enough to turn it around against good opposition.

"I don't think we have played that badly this season in 45 minutes; we played a lot better and lost games. So when it looks like I'm criticising, I'm actually positive that it's not the norm for us but it felt like it had to be addressed.

"I could've made different changes as well. In Mason's situation, he played two games in a week and gave a lot of input against Man City. Reece James hasn't played in a long time since going into lockdown and Billy's the same, so there are contributing factors around it.

"They are going to be top players, they will have top careers in football - that's the players they are - so whether you can call it a learning experience, I did do that.

"They are all good lads, they train well and I've never had a problem with them at all, so I've got no worries."

One player who did draw Lampard's praise was goalscorer Barkley, who has looked sharp since the resumption of the campaign.

"I played with Ross and I know he's a great lad. He wants to be the best player he can be and has a great attitude," Lampard added.

"Before lockdown, he put in some really good performances for us, his attitude has been spot on in training, he looked after himself in lockdown, and he was unfortunate not to start against Aston Villa. Since then, he's made an impact in every match he's played.

"I've got lots of time for Ross. He's a big player for us - you saw that today and in the last three games."

Ross Barkley came off the bench to secure Chelsea a 1-0 victory at Leicester City and take Frank Lampard's side into the FA Cup semi-finals.

Lampard made three substitutions after an underwhelming first-half display and they changed the game for the Blues, with Barkley – one of those introduced – getting the decisive goal.

Leicester looked the better side in the opening period and appeared to have greater control of proceedings, though their final pass did not match up to promising build-up play.

Chelsea produced a marked improvement in the second half after Lampard tinkered with his team and Barkley ended the deadlock with a smart finish in the 63rd minute, earning his team a place alongside Manchester United and Arsenal in the last four.

Chelsea were guilty of a sloppy start, but Leicester lacked ruthlessness and did not call Willy Caballero into action until the 20th minute when Youri Tielemans saw his 20-yard effort turned wide.

Lampard's men had another couple of escapes soon after, as Harvey Barnes blazed high and wide before Jonny Evans failed to direct a free header on target from a free-kick.

But Leicester had to rely on Kasper Schmeichel to avoid going behind in the 30th minute, the Danish goalkeeper producing a fine reaction save to deny Christian Pulisic.

A seemingly unimpressed Lampard made three alterations at half-time and it led to an improvement – Tammy Abraham finding the net in the 55th minute, only for celebrations to be cut short by an offside flag.

A Ben Chilwell cross hit the crossbar at the other end, but that was a momentary lapse in Chelsea's second-half domination and they deservedly went ahead just past the hour – half-time substitute Barkley expertly turning in Willian's low cross.

The Blues should have finished Leicester off on the break in the 89th minute, but Barkley's initial pass to Ruben Loftus-Cheek was poor and when the ball was returned to him the former Everton midfielder's shot was saved in unorthodox fashion by Schmeichel.

It had no impact on the result, however, as Chelsea head to Wembley.

 

What does it mean? Chelsea's depth serves them well

Few would have taken issue with Lampard's starting XI. After all, the three players taken off at half-time – Mason Mount, Billy Gilmour and Reece James – are all fine prospects.

However, when it was not working out, Lampard was able to turn to the likes of Barkley and Mateo Kovacic on the bench, and both were very bright after coming on.

Where there's a Willian, there's a way

His days at Stamford Bridge may be limited, but Willian proved that he certainly still has his uses. Not only did he set up Barkley's winner, he exhibited his hard-working nature with a match-high five tackles.

Mount and Gilmour hooked

Chelsea endured a very poor first half and the performances of their midfielders appeared to contribute to that. Mount struggled to really influence matters in attack, while Gilmour was guilty of a few wayward passes that put his team in real trouble. It was not a surprise to see them both withdrawn at the break.

What's next?

Leicester go to Everton in the Premier League on Wednesday, while Chelsea face London rivals West Ham the same day.

Liverpool are Premier League champions after Manchester City were beaten 2-1 by Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Thursday.

Pep Guardiola's side had the chance to prolong the Reds' 30-year wait at least until the two sides meet at the Etihad Stadium next week, but the title was within touching distance when Christian Pulisic gave Frank Lampard's side a 36th-minute lead.

Kevin De Bruyne's spectacular free-kick brought City level and Raheem Sterling hit the post, but their vulnerability on the break was eventually punished when Fernandinho handled in a desperate 75th-minute goalmouth scramble.

The veteran Brazil international was sent off and his countryman Willian sealed the points and crowned Jurgen Klopp's dominant league winners.

Kepa Arrizabalaga acrobatically pushed Fernandinho's header from Riyad Mahrez's free-kick over the crossbar amid a controlled opening half-hour from City.

Ederson saved well from Pulisic and Andreas Christensen in quick succession at the other end, and he merited better protection when Chelsea took the lead.

Poor communication between Ilkay Gundogan and Benjamin Mendy and the latter's botched recovery tackle that left Pulisic in the clear to finish coolly.

There was questionable wisdom in Mendy seeking to atone for his errors by shooting frequently from distance early in the second half.

In the 55th minute, De Bruyne added finesse to that tactic with a sumptuous dipping free-kick after N'Golo Kante clumsily fouled Mahrez.

A one-touch counter-attack then ended with Sterling dinking against the post, with Chelsea's efforts noticeably more laboured.

Ederson launched that attack but a poor pass out was almost punished as Mason Mount thumped into the side netting.

City's slick dominance of the ball but creaky defence lent an intriguing balance to the final quarter of the contest – Sterling curling agonisingly wide before Kyle Walker somehow got back to improbably deny Pulisic a second on the goal line.

Fernandinho was unable to be so precise when denying Tammy Abraham, leaving Willian to send Ederson the wrong way and prompt celebrations on Merseyside.

 

What does it mean: Chelsea take important step towards the Champions League

Although most of the focus was understandable on the main consequence of this Chelsea victory, it was a huge three points for the Stamford Bridge side. Their five-point advantage over a resurgent Manchester United in fifth is restored, while a wobbling Leicester City are now just a point better off with seven matches remaining.

De Bruyne shows his class once again

It feels like a trick of the mind that City won a thrilling title battle last season with De Bruyne reduced to a bit-part role by two medial knee ligament injuries. He has performed at a level above his colleagues this time around, with his free-kick here another champagne moment that adds weight to his case for end-of-season honours.

Mendy's moment to forget

In the build-up to this match, Mendy spoke of how this was his "time" and how he wanted to show people "the real Mendy" following his injury nightmare. Presumably, the slapstick version on display for Chelsea's opener was not what he had in mind. Guardiola needs a more reliable left-back next season, in terms of both form and fitness.

What's next?

Liverpool will emerge at the Etihad Stadium as champions, with the main bit of pre-match intrigue now set to revolve around whether a guard of honour is workable in the age of social distancing. Before that, City and Chelsea have away FA Cup quarter-finals on Sunday at Newcastle United and Leicester respectively.

Frank Lampard felt Raheem Sterling was wrong to compare the managerial careers of himself and Steven Gerrard to Sol Campbell but praised the Manchester City and England winger for his work in trying to highlight racial discrimination in football.

In the wake of Black Lives Matter protests sweeping the globe earlier this month, Sterling spoke to BBC Newsnight on a range of issues and discussed the lack of representation for black and ethnic minority people in the upper echelons of English football.

While also mentioning the minimal diversity present at boardroom level, Sterling struck a comparison between the early steps in coaching taken by Gerrard, Lampard, Campbell and their former England team-mate Ashley Cole.

Lampard took charge of Chelsea after guiding Derby County to the play-off final in his debut season in management, while Gerrard's first senior post after working at Liverpool's academy came with Scottish giants Rangers.

By contrast, Campbell is in charge of Southend United, who will begin next season in League Two – the fourth tier, where the ex-Arsenal centre-back masterminded a sensational escape from relegation for Macclesfield Town in 2018-19.

"I always refer back to football, the coaching staff you see around clubs," Sterling said. "I'll give a perfect one. There's Steven Gerrard, your Frank Lampards, you have your Sol Campbells and you have your Ashley Coles.

"All had great careers, all played for England. At the same time, they've all respectfully done their coaching badges to coach at the highest level and the two that haven't been given the right opportunities are the two black former players."

Speaking ahead of Chelsea's game against City at Stamford Bridge on Thursday, Lampard took exception to Sterling highlighting him specifically.

"In the last year or two, Raheem Sterling has been brave enough to speak about issues that maybe hadn't been broached and should have been broached a while before," he said. "That's huge credit to him.

"In the case of managers, I think Raheem got it, from my point of view, slightly wrong because it felt a very casual comparison.

"If you compare opportunities and pathways of individual managers - you can compare myself, you can compare Steven, you can compare Sol, who did an incredible job at Macclesfield and now at Southend that all of us would find very difficult to do."

Having played under him at Derby, Cole is now coaching in Chelsea's youth setup, and Lampard continued: "You compare to Ashley Cole, who is doing a great job and I think is going to be successful in whatever he wants to do.

"I think it's very hard to make that comparison from the outside. Those opportunities have to be equal for everybody, I think we all agree on that. But within that then there are the details of how hard you've worked.

"I've certainly worked hard from the start of my career to try and get this opportunity and there are a million things that knock you, set you back, you fight against."

Premier League players have worn the Black Lives Matter slogan on their shirts since the competitive action resumed, also taking a knee at the start of each match in solidarity with campaigns against police brutality.

Nevertheless, beyond the undoubted value of raising awareness, the underlying numbers in the English game remain troubling. Of 91 managers at professional clubs, six are black, while there are no black referees.

Lampard praised what he perceived to be a diverse outlook at Derby and Chelsea, based on his experiences with the two clubs, but acknowledged there is considerable work to be done.

"I think we're moving forward and can move forward more quickly, where players are getting equal opportunities if they move into management," he said.

"Not just players, young coaches when they come into the game. The FA do a lot of good work, I've just finished my Pro License. It was very diverse, it was very open.

"That needs to be encouraged. If there's anything we can do to help making sure everyone gets equal opportunity and a pathway into management, it needs to be done. The numbers suggest there are things that need to be done."

Lampard added: "With Raheem, I think the individual comparison when you don't have the detail of each individual person's pathway wasn't quite right.

"Again, I'll level that out because I want to say that Raheem Sterling as a person and a player and what he's stood up for over the past two years has been fantastic."

Frank Lampard is heartened by football's support of the Black Lives Matter movement staying strong in the wake of the offensive banner that marred Manchester City's 5-0 win over Burnley.

At the start of Monday's match, a plane carrying a banner reading "White Lives Matter Burnley" flew over the Etihad Stadium.

Burnley captain Ben Mee said he was "embarrassed" and "ashamed" by the incident and his club have pledged lifetime bans for the perpetrators.

Lampard's Chelsea host City on Thursday and he told a news conference that the widespread condemnation of the banner shows his sport will not be thrown off course at what increasingly looks to be a pivotal moment.

"I think we were all disappointed with the banner," he said. "One of the really positive things about recent happenings and the movement that's happening is the togetherness that the players are showing, clubs are showing, everyone involved is showing to try and move forward.

"I think it was a small step back but the reaction has been another positive move.

"Everybody has reacted in the same way outside of the people that think the other way to the rest of us. I think that's been positive and we must keep moving forward.

"Every game, every day you're seeing players, clubs come together. That's a great thing.

"That's what this is all about - being together and moving forward. We have some work to do and we'll all keep doing that."

If Liverpool beat Crystal Palace on Wednesday and City fail to beat Chelsea 24 hours later, Jurgen Klopp's men will be crowned Premier League champions.

During Lampard's playing days at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea endured a sometimes tempestuous rivalry with the Anfield outfit, but that has no bearing on his feelings over the destination of the title.

"I've got absolutely no thought of Liverpool's situation [in relation] to this game for us," said Lampard, who also played at City in 2014-15 to conclude his top-flight career in England.

"It makes no odds to us at all. I and we respect Liverpool and Man City as two fantastic teams.

"In the last two, three seasons they've been dominant. We can look at what it means for us this match, we want to try and win, we go against a great opponent and that's the only way I see it."

Frank Lampard confirmed Chelsea have not made any bids for Kai Havertz so far but did reveal the club remain in talks with Willian over his future. 

Chelsea have already strengthened for next season by recruiting Hakim Ziyech and Timo Werner from Ajax and RB Leipzig respectively, though their spending may not be finished there. 

As well as rumours of a move for Leicester City left-back Ben Chilwell, media reports have suggested the Blues are set to raid the Bundesliga again, this time to sign Havertz.

While willing to admit the Germany international is a "top player", Lampard denied Chelsea have made an offer to Bayer Leverkusen.

"He's obviously a top player but we're certainly not going to comment on other players of other teams and it cannot be our focus. No bids have gone in," the Chelsea boss told the media ahead of Thursday's Premier League clash with Manchester City. 

"We have the games that we need to complete before the window opens so that's something we'll broach when it comes round. At the minute our only focus can be on the games in hand."

Lampard was more forthcoming over Willian, who has agreed to stay at Stamford Bridge for the remainder of the campaign. 

The Brazil international joined Pedro in signing a short-term extension and there remains the possibility the former could stick around beyond the next few weeks. 

"We're still talking with the players and Willian in particular. We're talking with him," Lampard revealed. 

"It was hard for me to comment too much, obviously we announced yesterday [the deals], but I always felt confident that they would remain. They've been fantastic professionals for the club and servants in all senses. 

"When you have that level of professionalism within you, I think it was a sign that they wanted to stay and see out this season at least. 

"We'll carry on talking and see, but I think everybody's focus now is on these next games, the individuals themselves and obviously us as a club." 

Lampard said negotiations with both Willian and Pedro – who is rumoured to be joining Roma once his contract expires – were straightforward, providing him with much-needed squad depth for the crucial run-in.

Chelsea are aiming to clinch a top-four finish in the Premier League and also have an FA Cup quarter-final against Leicester City coming up this weekend. 

"I'm pleased, negotiations were relatively easy because both sides wanted the same thing," Lampard said. "Both players wanted to make sure they could see the season out with us. 

"At this point, we need them in the squad they're both important players for us so I'm happy." 

Frank Lampard believes Christian Pulisic has the hunger and ability to become a regular goalscorer for Chelsea following his strike against Aston Villa.

Pulisic netted five minutes after being brought off the bench in Sunday's 2-1 comeback win at Villa Park as the visitors recovered from a goal down.

The United States international converted Cesar Azpilicueta's cross at the back post to cancel out Kortney Hause's opener, before Olivier Giroud added a quickfire second.

And Lampard expects even more from a fit-again Pulisic, who was making his first appearance since New Year's Day after struggling with a groin issue.

"He was hungry. I know that and I felt for him as I felt for all the players with long-term injuries," he said at his post-match news conference. 

"Ruben [Loftus-Cheek] was in the same position, but I know Christian was very hungry. He has trained well. The ability that he has got to arrive in the box is a big thing that I have spoken to him about all season. 

"It is the difference between being a very good player off-the-side as an attacking player or the players at the real top level of the game that arrive and score in the six-yard box and hit big numbers yearly. 

"I really think Christian can do that so I was pleased with the impact he made when he came on. He will start games for us, of course. I think he is going to be a big player for us, not just in this run-in, but going forward."

Ross Barkley, another who has struggled with injuries, also made a big impression during his 35 minutes on the field and Lampard is pleased with the depth of his squad.

"The players who make the differences should always take all the credit. With Christian and Ross, they came on at the same time and have trained well," he said.

"They both had cases to start but I have some good selection problems. Then you have to consider the type of game and that fitness will play a part. 

"Bringing on Christian and Barkley early in the second half was always in my mind depending on how the game went. 

"The way it was going we needed a bit of inspiration, Christian with his goal and Ross did as well. I think it shows how important subs are."

Chelsea now hold a five-point lead over fifth-placed Manchester United after winning away from home in the top flight for the first time in 2020.

Lampard, taking charge of his 100th game as manager, acknowledged the importance of picking up a victory in his side's first game back following the three-month hiatus.

"I am really pleased with the performance," he added. "Aston Villa had the chance to [play a game] once before us, but I think we moved the ball well during the game and dominated possession. 

"It's been a little bit of our story this season, dominating possession but the need to be more clinical. 

"I can definitely give the players some leeway on that one because of the long time off. We showed great quality and character to win the game. I am pleased with the win.

"I think it is important for the group because I think we have seen all the games are looking different. 

"It is an obvious statement with the crowds, but in terms of the actual detail of the games and the tempo, the matches, the tiredness factor that has been coming into them too.

"So we didn't know exactly what we were coming into today but now we have three points when some teams have lost points around us."

Christian Pulisic is looking forward to linking up with Timo Werner next season, describing Chelsea's latest acquisition as an "incredible" bit of business. 

It was confirmed this week that the Blues will sign Germany international Werner, who is thought to be leaving Bundesliga side RB Leipzig in a £47.5million (€53m) deal. 

Werner has scored 26 goals as well as providing eight assists in 32 Bundesliga games this season and the 24-year-old striker had been linked with Liverpool. 

However, he will move to Chelsea next season, along with Ajax's Hakim Ziyech, providing Frank Lampard's side with an abundance of attacking talent that Pulisic is excited to be a part of. 

"We already have a very strong team and obviously very good players," the former Borussia Dortmund forward told Sky Sports after the Blues' 2-1 win over Aston Villa on Sunday. 

"To add guys like [Werner] is incredible. We're obviously focused on this season for now but we're also very excited for what's to come." 

Pulisic made the move from the Bundesliga to Stamford Bridge ahead of this season in a £58m deal, and his sixth goal of the season helped Chelsea come from behind to beat Villa. 

The American had only been on the pitch for five minutes when he steered in Cesar Azpilicueta's cross to cancel out Kortney Hause's opener, with Olivier Giroud netting the winner two minutes later.  

A groin injury and the coronavirus-enforced break meant Pulisic had not played since January 1, and the 21-year-old was delighted to be back. 

"I've definitely been out for a while, felt really nice to be back out here, especially for me after the injury," he added. 

"Obviously all the guys have been off, but we've been trying to stay fit as best we can and now we've got to get back into the rhythm of things." 

Chelsea had seen top-four rivals Manchester United, Sheffield United, Tottenham and Arsenal all drop points before they returned to action. 

And the victory, their first away from home in the Premier League in 2020, moved them five points clear in fourth with eight games to play. 

"We felt like it was a slight opportunity for us to capitalise on a couple of results," Lampard told BBC Radio 5 live. 

"We've missed those opportunities this season too many times and today we did it." 

Ruben Loftus-Cheek was named in Chelsea's starting line-up for the first time in 13 months when the Blues visited Aston Villa in the Premier League on Sunday.

The England international ruptured his Achilles in May 2019 and had not featured across the 2019-20 campaign.

In the Blues' first game back following the coronavirus-enforced break, Frank Lampard chose Olivier Giroud in attack ahead of ex-Villa loanee Tammy Abraham.

Midfielder N'Golo Kante was also in the starting line-up, having been out since February because of a groin injury.

Villa were unchanged from the side that drew 0-0 with Sheffield United on Thursday.

The trip to Villa Park was the 100th game of Lampard's managerial career, with the former Blues midfielder having won 45 of his first 99 in charge of Derby County and Chelsea.

Frank Lampard knows expectations will rise at Chelsea following the signings of Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech, but he is ready for the added pressure that will bring.

The Blues, who were under a transfer ban in the pre-season window, will be bolstered significantly next term when Werner and Ziyech arrive at Stamford Bridge from RB Leipzig and Ajax respectively.

Both were highly sought after and Lampard recognises securing their services will ensure much will be expected of his side, who first face a fight to finish this campaign in the top four.

Chelsea occupy fourth spot with nine games remaining and face Aston Villa on Sunday in their first match since the coronavirus-enforced shutdown.

Asked if the club's eye-catching transfer business would put him under extra scrutiny for the 2020-21 season, Lampard said: "It probably does, and I get that, but there's pressure in this job whatever, expectations to whatever degree.

"We're a well-supported, well-followed club, that's why we love the Premier League and why we try to do our best.

"So I don't mind the idea. I get it, we are trying to improve, and I'm under no illusions, I want us to improve. I don't mind the pressure, I'll have more pressure on myself.

"I think we have to be very positive, we want to close the gap, and signings like Timo and Ziyech are both nice statements.

"There are other areas we might want to improve on as we go along, they have to be players who are available in the market that we can get, and we are comfortable we are getting them for the right places to fill the right holes and improve us, and at the moment we are positive about that."

Chelsea finished 27 points behind champions Manchester City last season and are 34 adrift of leaders Liverpool this time around.

Lampard acknowledged a lot of work is needed to catch up with those two clubs and hopes his new signings will adapt quickly to life in the Premier League.

"We know there's a big gap going upwards when you look at the performances of Liverpool and City over the last couple of years, so we need to really work to close that gap," he said.

"We have to be ready to give the players coming in some time for adaptation to the league. We hope it's not that much, we really believe in their qualities, but we are working towards closing that gap."

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