Frank Lampard never expected to avoid the mind games of his former manager Jose Mourinho as their respective high-flying Chelsea and Tottenham sides prepare to meet on Sunday.

Blues legend Lampard was an integral cog in Mourinho's Chelsea machine during the Portuguese's first stint in charge at Stamford Bridge.

Playing under the Portuguese, Lampard won the Premier League and EFL Cup twice and the FA Cup once.

However, the duo had a well-publicised touchline exchange during Spurs' EFL Cup penalty shoot-out win over Chelsea back in September, while Mourinho seemed to aim a dig at Lampard when suggesting he had used a system akin to that of ex-Blues boss Antonio Conte following a 2-0 defeat of Tottenham last December.

Asked if he thought he would be spared Mourinho's usual penchant for mind games, Lampard told a news conference: "No, I'm not surprised by anything in management because we all have similar jobs to do and we all have to sit in press conferences and we all have our personalities. 

"I have respect for Jose as a manager; I didn't take any offence to the Antonio Conte system [remarks] or whatever – I played it a lot differently to Conte. 

"I have a lot of respect for Jose, it's not contentious for me."

Tottenham make the short trip to Stamford Bridge as Premier League leaders following an impressive 2-0 win over Manchester City last time out, but Chelsea are just two points back in third.

After beating City, Mourinho said his side were not title contenders and Lampard understands the point his opposite number on Sunday was trying to convey.

"I understand Jose's answers. That's the position we should be in, the marker has been set by Manchester City and Liverpool in the last two or three seasons," Lampard added.

"It's early on in terms of games, we shouldn't get carried away. There's such a long way to go, I understand his position.

"I think Chelsea-Tottenham is extra special anyway because of the rivalry with the teams. I played in the fixture many times.

"The fact we're in good form near the top of table adds spice - we all want to be fighting for those positions."

Some pundits were questioning whether Mourinho was still able to coach at an elite level after being sacked by Manchester United in December 2018 and enduring mixed fortunes at Spurs when replacing Mauricio Pochettino last term.

Lampard believes Mourinho was merely subject to the "reactionary" period football finds itself in.

"You don't have a record as decorated as Jose Mourinho as a manager without being a talented coach," he said. 

"For us all, the game is so reactionary at the moment, form is always judged very harshly for any manager."

It was reported this week that Chelsea were in discussions already over an extended stay for veteran centre-back Thiago Silva, who has impressed since joining on a free transfer upon the expiry of his contract at Paris Saint-Germain.

Lampard said of the situation: "Yeah, I've seen reports; there's an option in Thiago's contract. The way he's playing we're very happy, that's the end of it. I'm surprised it's come out that way."

Chelsea are set to be boosted by the return of Christian Pulisic against Tottenham, but Lampard is unsure whether the winger can start following his recent hamstring issue.

"Yeah, he's fit. Ready to start is a question mark," he said. "It's hard to gauge match fitness, training in times as they are with COVID, it's hard to recreate game situations. 

"Players are playing every two or three days. It's harder to get them ready for games."

Jose Mourinho says he has not yet been tipped off about the Chelsea team, having claimed he received some inside information ahead of Tottenham's previous Premier League meeting with their London rivals.

Spurs travelled to Stamford Bridge in February, their second tussle with the Blues since Mourinho had been appointed the previous November.

Chelsea beat Spurs 2-0 at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium a month into Mourinho's reign, though the Portuguese appeared to have the upper hand in the return meeting earlier this year.

Mourinho claimed he had been given an insight into Chelsea's formation and starting XI, though he did not identify his source.

However, Chelsea again emerged victorious, beating Spurs 2-1 thanks to goals from Olivier Giroud and Marcos Alonso.

Mourinho is yet to receive another tip-off, but he doubts it would make much difference even if he was told Frank Lampard's set-up for Sunday.

When asked in his pre-match news conference if he had managed to acquire any inside knowledge, Mourinho said: "Not yet – or probably not.

"But with such an amazing squad…to play [Reece] James or [Cesar] Azpilicueta, or play [Ben] Chilwell, Alonso or Emerson [Palmieri], to play [Edouard] Mendy or play the most expensive goalkeeper in the history of the Premier League [Kepa Arrizabalaga]…

"Chelsea has an amazing squad, so I'm not even worried about who is going to play because they only have very good players."

The match will see Mourinho return to the club where he enjoyed two spells as manager, guiding them to eight trophies – including three Premier League crowns – since 2004.

But since his most recent spell with Chelsea he has managed two Premier League rivals in Manchester United and now Spurs, his relationship with Blues fans taking a hit as a result.

As such, the 57-year-old was particularly blunt when asked how he felt seeing Lampard and Jody Morris – both of whom played or worked under Mourinho at Stamford Bridge – steering the ship.

"It's another game for me, no problem at all," he responded.

Mourinho was without Hugo Lloris, Giovani Lo Celso and Steven Bergwijn for Thursday's 4-0 Europa League win over Ludogorets but believes all three have a chance of featuring at the weekend as Spurs look to remain top of the table – not that the manager is overly concerned about the league hierarchy for the moment.

"Maybe we don't go [stay] top of the table there [after the game], maybe Liverpool get a point or victory at Brighton, so maybe we don't go top, but going there with us top or Liverpool top doesn't change anything for us," Mourinho said.

"As I've been saying since the start of the season, we are always contenders to win the next match, nothing more than that, so we are going to be there, three possible results.

"We've been in football a long time, we know everything can happen. We go there, our objective is to win the game."

Chelsea boss Frank Lampard praised Olivier Giroud for once again stepping up with his late goal against Rennes and says the striker has given him "a problem" when it comes to his team selection.

Second-half substitute Giroud headed in an injury-time winner for Chelsea in Tuesday's 2-1 victory to earn his side a place in the last 16 of the Champions League with two Group E games to spare.

The 34-year-old scored from his only shot at Roazhon Park, for what was his second goal of the campaign in his eighth outing.

Seven of those appearances have now come via the bench and the France international revealed last week he may have to leave Chelsea in January if he is to keep alive his hopes of representing his country at Euro 2020.

Lampard vowed on the eve of the Rennes match to give Giroud more opportunities, however, and the Chelsea head coach heaped further praise on the former Arsenal man after his late heroics in his homeland.

"He does things like he does tonight, he's great for us," Lampard told BT Sport. "It wasn't just his goal when he came on but his hold-up play and physicality.

"I have a problem because Tammy [Abraham] is playing well and Olivier in the restart was incredible. I have two players fighting for the position, but it's a good problem.

"He'll get his minutes because of the amount of games. You saw the reaction to his goal, and that wasn't just because it was a late winner – it shows what he does day to day and what he means to the team."

Giroud has scored six goals in 13 matches since the Premier League resumed post-lockdown in June – one more than next-best Abraham, who has played four games more.

Abraham has been favoured of late and scored in last weekend's 2-0 win at Newcastle United, with Lampard welcoming the competition to lead the line.

"They are fighting for a place in the side," he added at his post-match news conference. "But we know what a great professional [Giroud] is. To see the reaction of the team-mates showed what kind of a player he is. He always keeps the right attitude.

"We are playing every three days, maybe two days. I don't want think I have to prove to him that he will play games. Tammy is in great form as well. I hope that he knows what I want with him. He came on today and impressed."

Callum Hudson-Odoi had earlier given Chelsea the lead after being played in by a sublime pass from Mason Mount, who also won possession to start the attack from inside his own half.

Mount has now registered eight assists in all competitions since the start of last season, putting him level with Cesar Azpilicueta and Abraham among players still at the club.

The England international has had his place in the side questioned by some but Lampard feels he has more than justified his selection.

"With Mason there's been a lot of talk and any negative talk just needs to go away," he said. "I've been lucky enough to be closer to him and what he did at Derby and last season has been outstanding. 

"I'm not going to undermine the quality he has and when we have two number eights he's got all the qualities – I think he can get more goals and assists. The pass for Callum Hudson-Odoi's goal was top class. We need to keep that competition."

Hudson-Odoi's opener and Giroud's winner came either side of Serhou Guirassy's header five minutes from time for a Rennes side on a four-match losing streak, ensuring that Chelsea can look forward to the knockout round.

"I'm very happy to qualify with two games to spare," Lampard said. "It was a really tough match, they're a very good team. 

"Their recent form doesn't reflect how good they are, it was a tough, hard-fought win."

Frank Lampard assured Olivier Giroud he will get plenty of opportunities in the coming weeks but is willing to discuss his future if the France star feels he needs more game time.

Giroud appeared headed for the exit door last January but remained at Stamford Bridge and helped the Blues to a top-four finish, scoring eight goals in the final 12 games of last term.

But the arrival of Timo Werner from RB Leipzig coupled with the early season form of Tammy Abraham has seen Giroud struggle for minutes under Lampard in 2020-21.

Speaking to Telefoot this week, Giroud stated he may have to ponder his future in the next transfer window as he aims to nail down a spot in France's Euro 2020 squad.

Lampard understands Giroud's concerns but with matches coming thick and fast, the Blues boss says the veteran forward will feature prominently.

"I do have plans to have Oli with us, he's a very important player in our squad, and was a big part of our squad last year," Lampard told a news conference ahead of Tuesday's Champions League clash with Rennes. 

"When you look at his Chelsea career in terms of league starts he's played a relative amount. He's a big part of us going forward. 

"I want him to stay here, I have a very good relationship with Oli. If ever he felt it was going to go a different way I'd talk to him. At the moment he's very important to me."

He added: "When he doesn't play he's a great support, we have really grown up conversations as we did in January. 

"I'll be relying on top players, top strikers as I see it for us. I'll always be honest with Oli I think he's still got a big contribution for us. I don't want to be drawn in November about conversations that might happen in January."

Lampard, who as expected confirmed Kai Havertz is fit after recovering from coronavirus and Thiago Silva travels having been rested for the win over Newcastle United, has been impressed by the form of Abraham.

The England striker, who has five goals in 13 games this season, is showing signs of a promising partnership with Werner and Lampard says his task now is to show more consistency.

"Yeah I'm really pleased with him, he's playing really well at the minute, his all round game off the ball work for the team, link up play is good," Lampard said. 

"In some parts I think it got forgotten how good he was the first half of last season, he was a big reason for us finishing fourth. 

"The second half was more difficult for him. That's normal for a young player, he's still young, but now he's seeing a mirror of how he is in training. He's training brilliantly, he's enthusiastic, that's when he's at this best. I hope that continues.

"When they play like Tammy is at the minute they make my decisions easier because he's playing so well. Tammy should take credit, his next challenge is to remain consistent."

Lampard also talked up the qualities of Mason Mount, who has faced suggestions on social media of receiving favouritism from the Chelsea boss and his England manager Gareth Southgate.

For Lampard, Mount epitomises what managers look for in a player and believes social media has changed the way footballers face scrutiny.

"We have a big fanbase, it's very easy for someone to sit on a phone and make very harsh statements," he added. "With Mason he looks clean cut, he did an advert with his top off and that's about as edgy as he gets! 

"There are a hundred things in his game to impress his manager. He's a different type of footballer. When I say that I don't want to add fuel to the fire of people saying he's my son!

"He's got a lot to improve on, he can add more goals, add more assists, but he's a quality football player who can only get better. 

"Mason Mount or anyone will not be getting favouritism. In midfield we have options, out wide we have options, no one gets the edge from me other than how they train and perform."

N'Golo Kante is playing like a midfield boss again for Chelsea and Frank Lampard could not be happier for the two-time Premier League winner.

The midfield dynamo, who played a big part in Leicester City's title success before repeating the feat with Chelsea, has shaken off ankle and muscle injury strife to shine this season.

He captained the side in a comfortable 2-0 win at Newcastle United on Saturday, as Chelsea at least briefly went to the top of the table.

It was a frustration to Lampard that Kante missed large part of the 2019-20 campaign, because the manager knows the World Cup winner brings proven quality and valuable experience.

Kante is playing a key role for a Chelsea side that are unbeaten in nine games across all competitions, winning five in a row.

Lampard said: "I'm really, really happy with how he’s playing.

"Last year he missed 50 per cent of the games with injuries, he had a tough time for different reasons and we are working very hard on that to get him as fit and fresh [as possible]. 

"Now we are managing his training and game time, but his levels of performances are really high."

Lampard sees Kante as not so much an organiser and a disrupter of play, which are clear strengths, but as a footballer with a broad, under-rated range of qualities.

"I keep saying every time I get asked about N'Golo that I have so much faith in him and the top midfield player that he is in world football," said the Chelsea boss. "Not just at breaking up and winning balls back, as we know that is a huge quality of his, but his passing and supporting in midfield and playing in that deeper role now."

Kante made four tackles and three interceptions against Newcastle, which were both team-highs. He played 75 passes - 70 short and five long - and had 93.8 per cent accuracy with his 48 passes inside the Newcastle half.

Such data draws perhaps less attention than the goals and assists Chelsea will also require to sustain a challenge at the top of the table, but Lampard appreciates the significance.

Another title tilt is something that the manager is reluctant to talk about, but should Kante stay fit then it might be a realistic ambition.

Lampard knows Chelsea are better off with the 29-year-old in their team, which is why he has been starting almost every game this term, and the Blues certainly hope the worst of Kante's injury troubles are over.

“I don't want to tempt fate because at the minute he is going well," Lampard said. "We have had a better period of him to get him in a place where we are really happy."

For Chelsea, it is a case of ensuring Kante does not over-stretch himself.

Nobody ran further in Chelsea's team than Kante's 11.33 kilometres at St James' Park, and the impact of his exertions is closely monitored.

"We're very aware and we keep check on his training and his numbers and how much distance he travels, because every time you train and allow him off the leash in training he makes ridiculous output because that’s the way he plays," Lampard said.

"We are very careful with that and at the minute we are in a good place and hopefully that continues."

Chelsea boss Frank Lampard told his team to "stay humble" after victory at Newcastle United showed they might be in this season's Premier League title mix.

For a short while at least, the 2-0 win at St James' Park took Chelsea to the top of the table, with an early own goal from Federico Fernandez followed by a Tammy Abraham strike, who was teed up by Timo Werner.

Given their dominance – Chelsea had 78.9 per cent of first-half possession and played 439 passes against a meagre 109 from Newcastle before the break – the only disappointment for Lampard was that his team did not win by a wider margin.

But considering he was without the likes of Thiago Silva, Kai Havertz and Christian Pulisic, it was a highly successful trip to Tyneside for Lampard.

"It's pleasing but I'm not going to get excited about being top of the table for five minutes," he said.

"It's time to stay humble when you go top and know that it's a long, long race."

Lampard's former Chelsea and England midfield colleague Joe Cole believes there is the making of a championship-winning team at the club now.

Speaking on BT Sport, Cole said: "I don't think Frank will thank me, but if you look at that, you're looking at a team of title contenders.

"You add Pulisic and Havertz into the mix and it's an embarrassment of riches. It's been built the right way: the structure that's gone in place, the style of play, the methodology.

"The biggest credit you can pay Frank is you can see his personality on the team – that work ethic, that togetherness, that relentlessness."

Chelsea are unbeaten in their last seven Premier League games now, and in nine matches across all competitions, with their last defeat coming on penalties to Tottenham in the EFL Cup.

There were still elements about the performance at Newcastle that Lampard felt needed work, but he spoke of being impressed by the early penetration behind the home defence.

"I always felt the real danger moments for us could be on transition and counter-attacks, as Timo showed one or two times in the first half and then obviously he showed that for Tammy's goal," Lampard said.

Newcastle carried very little threat, which meant Chelsea at times appeared to ease off.

"I understand players can at times become comfortable. There's little lessons where we can get better," Lampard said.

"We played well in patches and the result is key in these games, because the Premier League is tough, it's relentless.

"I thought they dealt with the challenge of the game very well today, did the lads, so I'm very pleased."

Frank Lampard insists Christian Pulisic can be hugely influential for Chelsea once the club solve the hamstring problem that hangs over the American winger.

The United States international missed the start of the season but was looking set for a run in the Chelsea side until he suffered a twinge in the warm-up before the October 31 match at Burnley.

A hamstring injury ended Pulisic's involvement in August's FA Cup final against Arsenal, after he scored the game's opening goal, and he continues to be troubled in that area.

The £58million signing from Borussia Dortmund has been ruled out of Saturday's trip to Newcastle United, three weeks after his Turf Moor setback was described by Lampard as "very minor", and it remains to be seen when he will be next available for selection.

There is no doubt the situation is frustrating to all concerned at Chelsea, with the club's medical staff working to help Pulisic back to full strength.

"With Christian, we're still searching," said Lampard. "He's in a position at the moment where he's had a problematic injury.

"Christian had a history before coming to us of some muscular injuries and he's had them again.

"Everything about Christian and how he is around the training ground, and how he prepares and how much he wants to play, is perfect.

"We need to try to find the right balance between playing and resting and maintenance during the week to try to get the best out of him.

"He's a young player still. It's not abnormal and we will find a solution. I don't want to make more of it than it is, because we want as many games out of Christian as we can possibly get because of his ability.

"But at the minute he's injured so in the short term it's a work in progress.

"But we have a great medical team here and we're very much joined up in the idea of getting the best of Christian, to get him fit as much as we can."

HOW IMPORTANT HAS PULISIC BEEN SO FAR?

Given the stop-start nature of his Chelsea career, it could be some time before we get the full picture of what the 22-year-old will bring to the Blues.

He has made just three Premier League appearances in the 2020-21 campaign, while last season's figures illuminated his threat but were inconclusive in a wider sense.

Although Pulisic scored nine goals in 25 league outings, of which just 19 were starts, Chelsea's results were stable whether he was in Lampard's XI or not.

Of those 19 games that he started, Chelsea won 10, drew three and lost six, and their record was identical for the 19 games that Pulisic either sat out or appeared as a substitute.

With him in the starting team, Chelsea scored 32 times and conceded 26, while without him from the first whistle they netted 37 goals and shipped 28.

Pulisic has great attributes, with his pace, dribbling and eye for a strike, but Chelsea are the Premier League's top scorers with 20 goals this term and he has not contributed to that tally, or had an assist.

He did score in the Champions League win at Krasnodar, after coming off the bench, but injury struck three days later.

Lampard naturally wants the USA star back in his matchday ranks, but Chelsea have found a way to flourish without him.

WAS IT ALWAYS THIS WAY WITH PULISIC?

As Lampard says, Pulisic is no stranger to an injury, but Chelsea plainly bought a class act. Opta data tells us that Dortmund were more prolific with Pulisic than without him in 2018-19, his final year at the club.

When he started in the Bundesliga - albeit just nine times in that season - they averaged 3.0 goals per game compared to 2.2 without him in the line-up, while their goals against figure held steady at 1.3 whether he was selected from the off or not.

In the games where Pulisic started, the numbers of shots and crosses per game, as well as passing accuracy in the opposition half, all climbed.

In the 20 games in which he played a part, Dortmund won 14, drew four and lost twice for a points-per-game average of 2.3, while that dipped to 2.1 when he was absent.

Frank Lampard has warned that the Premier League is undermining its own product by asking Chelsea to travel to Newcastle United for an early Saturday kick-off straight after the international break.

The Chelsea boss is amazed league chiefs expect his players to return from duty with their countries, some flying in from different continents, and then face another sapping journey before their feet have barely touched the ground.

Chelsea have a curiously poor recent record at Newcastle, having lost on five of their past seven visits to St James' Park (W1 D1), and their hopes of improving on that have not been helped by the timing of this weekend's game.

A 12:30 GMT start on Saturday is distinctly unhelpful, Lampard believes, at a time when he feels the Premier League should be doing all it possibly can to guide clubs through the difficult pandemic period.

He said Chelsea have been training with just four first-team players while their leading lights have been away with their countries over the past fortnight. They also have a Champions League trip to Rennes next week on their busy agenda.

"The majority of our squad have been travelling. Some are travelling just now, just landed now, they will travel again to fly up to Newcastle, they'll travel back from Newcastle, they'll fly to Rennes on Monday and they'll fly back from Rennes," Lampard said.

He struggles to see the sense in having the 12:30 match slot at all.

"When you look at the scheduling, for me it's just a common sense factor of the broadcasters have never had as many slots as they have now. That 12:30 slot, how much does it need to be there?" Lampard asked.

"It's absolutely not the optimum way to have players preparing for a Premier League game, which is an incredible brand all around the world.

"You want the best of the brand and it's very difficult for us to prepare for this game anywhere near where we are preparing to our best. I want us to play to our best but it's very difficult circumstances."

He sees injury tolls mounting as clubs and players struggle with an increased workload after the later than usual start to the season, adding to his argument.

"I'm concerned because it's across the Premier League. The injuries are going up - muscle injuries are going up and the numbers are there if the Premier League want to look at them closely," Lampard said.

"So it's clear. It's game after game after game, zero pre-season, the schedule is tighter, throughout the season there'll be these really busy patches, and if we want to handle them the best we can, if we want to look after the players and get the product as well as we can, change the time from 12:30.

"That's not a difficult conversation for me to have. The amount of things we changed due to COVID and Project Restart, and now in this season we had to change because these are incredible times, then we have to look for the best way to change it. So the answer is stop talking and act upon it."

Lampard also said Premier League clubs should band together to insist on being allowed to make five substitutions, as was permitted in the closing weeks of the coronavirus-disrupted 2019-20 season.

That has been denied them this term, with only three substitutes allowed to be used in each game, but Lampard says for the sake of player welfare that should go back up to five.

"I don't want anyone to cry their eyes out for players because we know how lucky we are to do this job," he said.

"But everywhere else in Europe, and the world it seems, have five subs and we at the moment don't and we have to revisit that in my opinion."

Frank Lampard praised Hakim Ziyech's start to his Chelsea career as "remarkable" after the forward's starring role in the 4-1 win over Sheffield United.

The Blues recovered after conceding for the first time in 459 minutes in all competitions through David McGoldrick's ninth-minute effort to keep pace at the top of the Premier League table.

Goals from Tammy Abraham, Ben Chilwell, Thiago Silva and Timo Werner ensured a victory that puts Chelsea a point behind leaders Southampton and second-placed Liverpool.

Ziyech had a hand in three of the goals at Stamford Bridge, supplying two assists, and creating a game-high six chances.

The former Ajax man created the most chances of any player in the league this season, and Lampard is particularly impressed with how he has adapted given the 2019-20 Eredivisie season was abandoned back in April.

"We played against [Ziyech] in the Champions League last year - he's a top-class player," Lampard told Sky Sports. "He impresses you even more when you work with him.

"The Dutch league finished a long time ago, then he had an injury so to hit the ground running like he has, he has been remarkable.

"He will be a big player for us. I need players who can come in and lift the level. That's hard. The midfield were great with their driving runs."

Chelsea boss Lampard was impressed with his side's response to going behind, adding: "Sheffield United are a really strong team.

"They are really good at putting you under pressure. We didn't deal with it brilliantly but the reaction from the team for the rest of the game was spot on."

Frank Lampard was "not surprised" by Jose Mourinho's accusation that Chelsea players have attempted to win cheap penalties.

Mourinho alleged that Chelsea, Manchester United, Manchester City and Liverpool have attempted to con officials into awarding a spot-kick in his defence of skipper Harry Kane.

The Portuguese was unhappy with the insinuation that Kane had deliberately backed into Adam Lallana to win a penalty in Tottenham's 2-1 win over Brighton and Hove Albion last weekend.

Speaking earlier this week, Mourinho said: "Kane? I think you are confused. 

"You could be speaking about some Manchester United players, some Man City players, some Liverpool players, some Chelsea players."

Chelsea have already had eight penalties this season but Lampard insists none of those were awarded for a player diving inside the box.

"I wasn't surprised by those comments," he said. "There have been no incidents of diving at Chelsea this season that I've seen. 

"But I wasn't surprised by it, no. I think it's very normal that managers in and around the clubs challenging sometimes mention others with those statements. It didn't affect me."

He added: "I'm not going to tell Jose or any other manager how to do a press conference. 

"I think we all know when we watch these penalty decisions, we know what ones are penalties, what ones are dives, ones that are cleverly bought. I don't want to dwell on it."

Timo Werner successfully converted two penalties for Chelsea in Wednesday's 4-0 win over Rennes in the Champions League, extending their unbeaten run to six matches.

The Blues have kept a clean sheet in five successive games for the first time since October 2010, with Thiago Silva and Kurt Zouma starting together in all but one of those.

Lampard has regularly praised the impact made by experienced defender Silva, who he believes is helping to get the most out of Zouma alongside him.

No player made more clearances than Zouma (4) in the win over Rennes and he also topped the charts for successful passes (84) and touches (99).

"I've been really impressed with Kurt, his form and what he's giving us, scoring and defending from set-pieces, which is a big part of our game," he said.

"I think Thiago can affect people around him. I think of his status in the game and the way he plays it. 

"We talk about partnerships in the team. We can all think of great centre-back partnerships. With Thiago's quality it rubs off not only on Kurt but any player he is paired with.

"I think he's helped Kurt and we now need to sustain that level of performance and keep the good run of clean sheets we're on going. He's certainly affecting the others."

Silva was brought in on a free transfer after his Paris Saint-Germain contract expired at the end of last season - one of seven first-team players signed during a busy close season.

Lampard is grateful to have been heavily backed by owner Roman Abramovich and hopes the signing of Silva in particular can lead to silverware being won.

"People think we did all our business in five minutes. The first year I spent here I couldn't bring players in so I had a long-term view of what players I could bring in," he said.

"It was all very joined up and I was certainly happy with the input I had. We worked hard and a lot of people deserve credit. The next step is to work with that. 

"We've seen good signs of late, players bedding in and getting fit - Thiago among them.

"In terms of the career he's had, he absolutely walks into the bracket of top centre-backs. Teams who achieve stuff have defenders who set those standards. 

"The players know the importance of defending well to win trophies and particularly Premier League titles. 

"But they also need support around them. When you look at Thiago and the early impact he has had, he can be a big deal for us."

Chelsea have been told the decision not to award them a penalty in their 0-0 draw with Manchester United last month was incorrect, Frank Lampard has revealed.

Cesar Azpilicueta was impeded by Harry Maguire as he jumped to meet a cross in the first half at Old Trafford but referee Martin Atkinson did not point to the spot and the VAR upheld his decision.

Chelsea were more fortunate in their 3-0 win over Rennes on Wednesday, as Dalbert was shown a second yellow card for handball after Tammy Abraham's shot ricocheted off the Brazilian defender's leg and up onto his arm.

In the Premier League this season, 27 of the 68 games played (39.7 per cent) have seen at least one penalty taken. It is significantly up on the mark of 23 per cent from 2019-20 and 14 per cent higher than the record set in 2009-10 (25.3 per cent).

The Premier League is using a different interpretation of the handball rule to the Champions League and Lampard wants to see greater alignment in officiating across the top European competitions.

"I think the handball rule which we adjusted in the Premier League has not been adjusted in the Champions League and from FIFA it seems," said Lampard.

"It's a rule that is universally disliked by anybody who plays, watches or supports football. I can't back it in midweek when it gives us a penalty and a red card [for Rennes] because it doesn't feel right. I think that has to be looked at in Europe in terms of how we move forward.

"That one goes in our favour and it's important to be open and honest about that, I said it after the game. And the one against Man United recently went against us.

"We've enquired about the reasons for that decision, we've been told it was a penalty. The VAR didn't take much time to look at it and that probably cost us two points on the day.

"With VAR and the subtle differences we've got to make sure VAR is there for a reason, to get the decisions right with retrospect and time for everybody on an even playing field.

"It was just one that went against us there and in midweek we had one that had a big impact on the game."

Reece James was named in Gareth Southgate's England squad for the upcoming friendly with the Republic of Ireland and Nations League matches against Belgium and Iceland.

The Chelsea right-back was sent off as the Three Lions lost their previous Nations League game 1-0 to Denmark.

Lampard has no problem with players going off to play on the international stage but revealed James will return to Chelsea following England's first game.

"I'm proud that players get called up for their countries. I'd never want to take that opportunity away from them, I think it's part of a being a top player," said Lampard.

"With Reece it's going to look after itself because he'll be involved in the first one and come back to us.

"Players are probably in need of a bit of a rest, when you think there are three games for some of them. I just try to have an open conversation with the managers of the team, speak with the players as they go and try to manage it as well as we can."

Christian Pulisic will not return for Chelsea until after the international break as he continues to struggle with a hamstring problem.

Frank Lampard revealed in midweek that a scan had only shown "very minor" damage for the United States international, who sustained the injury in the warm-up ahead of last weekend's 3-0 win over Burnley.

The Chelsea boss was initially positive about Pulisic's recovery but confirmed on Friday he had stopped training this week due to ongoing discomfort.

Pulisic will consequently be unavailable for Saturday's meeting with Sheffield United in the Premier League at Stamford Bridge, and his absence means Chelsea will be without one of their most potent attacking weapons.

Since football returned in June, Pulisic has attempted more shots (28) and completed more dribbles (19) than any other Chelsea player in the top flight. He has also been involved in a team-high six goals (four scored, two assisted) in the competition, level with Olivier Giroud and Willian.

"Pulisic is not fit to play. He's still suffering with his hamstring. He's not [training] at the moment," said Lampard.

"To be clear, he trained at a low level in midweek when I made those quotes and he wasn't comfortable, so we have to keep looking for the right solution."

Lampard confirmed that Kepa Arrizabalaga will be in the squad this weekend as he continues to recover from a shoulder problem.

"He [Kepa] has recovered, he's still getting a slight bit of pain but he's in the squad for tomorrow," said the Blues boss.

Timo Werner replaced Pulisic in the starting line-up for the Burnley game and the Germany international has played more minutes for Chelsea this season than any other player.

Lampard hopes to be able to grant Werner – who has been involved in four goals in his past three Premier League games – a rest soon and would not clarify if that will come against the Blades.

"I'm not going to give the team away, but I think it was clear with the Burnley game I was planning on giving him a rest. It was more because I had options and the journey to Russia and back," said Lampard.

"Timo's played a lot of games, but at the beginning there's always a balance in my job of players that are playing well and enjoying it, finding their way in the team and making relationships and feeling the league if they're new to the league, and I think that's been a big deal for Timo.

"I've been happy with that point. As we look forward, I will try to manage those minutes to keep him as fresh as I can, but at the minute he's going well, so we'll see."

Frank Lampard is thrilled at how Timo Werner has adapted at Chelsea after the forward scored two first-half penalties in Wednesday's 3-0 Champions League win over Rennes. 

Werner scored the opener in the 10th minute after being brought down by Dalbert, who was then dismissed for a second yellow card after handling inside the area, allowing the 24-year-old to lash home his second.

Tammy Abraham added a third after the break as Chelsea moved onto seven points at the summit of Group E, level with Sevilla.

The two penalties were Werner's only shots at goal, while – from his position on the left of a front three – he also failed to create any chances for his team-mates.

However, despite a relatively subdued display, the brace took Werner onto seven goals in all competitions following his arrival from RB Leipzig for a reported £47.5million.

Lampard said the deal's completion in June, which allowed Werner to join the Blues for pre-season training, has been crucial to his impressive start. 

"That he could train with us early was a big bonus for us," he told a news conference. 

"He's adapting quickly and he's been easy to manage. He works and plays well. I felt he had the endurance to last 90 minutes. I'm very happy with him."

Lampard also confirmed Werner – who also scored from the spot against Krasnodar last week – is now the club's first-choice penalty taker, replacing Jorginho.

"I spoke with Jorginho first because he has been brilliant," he said. "I felt it was time to have a change. He was fine with that. Timo took them well today. 

"Timo is [our penalty taker] as it stands now but he has to keep scoring them."

Werner's compatriot Kai Havertz was missing on Wednesday, with Chelsea announcing shortly before kick-off that the 21-year-old was self-isolating having tested positive for COVID-19. 

"It showed up in UEFA's testing on Monday," Lampard said of Havertz's positive result. "We re-tested yesterday but everyone else is negative in the squad. 

"I've spoken to him a couple of times. He's at home isolating. He has minor symptoms but he's fine. I spoke to him two hours before the game. He's doing all the right things."

Frank Lampard was relieved to learn a hamstring injury to Christian Pulisic was "very minor", with the Chelsea winger having previously been expected to spend weeks on the sidelines. 

Pulisic suffered the injury during the warm-up ahead of the Blues' 3-0 Premier League win at Burnley on Saturday. 

It will keep him out of Wednesday's Champions League clash with Rennes too, but Lampard was left understandably pleased an important player is not facing a long time out of action. 

"Christian had a scan yesterday which showed a very minor injury to his hamstring," Lampard said in a pre-match media conference.  

"He won't be fit for tomorrow, but we will see after that. 

"It's obviously a relief for it to be on the small side. Christian made the right decision not to play in a game that could have made it worse. He's an important player for us. 

"Some players who play on the edge and have speed could be more susceptible. We are looking at ways to manage Christian. 

"We are all working in the same direction to try get him to be match fit as regularly as possible. We know the talent." 

The United States international did not make his first appearance of the 2020-21 season until October because of a hamstring problem.

He scored in Chelsea's 4-0 win over Krasnodar last time out in the Champions League and has created two chances across five appearances in all competitions this season, though he has not been credited with an assist. 

Defender Thiago Silva did not feature against Krasnodar but has played a pivotal role for a Chelsea backline that has kept five clean sheets across the Premier League and Champions League. 

After the upcoming international break, Chelsea will play 12 games in the space of six weeks. 

That packed schedule means Chelsea will likely have to rotate regularly, but Lampard insists managing the centre-back's workload is a simple task because of the Brazil international's professionalism. 

"When you have an experienced player whose such a great professional like Thiago is, that honest conversation [about the workload] is very easy," he added.  

"I'll be very upfront and honest with him about what I think and what he thinks."

Christian Pulisic will have to undergo a scan to assess an injury sustained during the warm-up ahead of Chelsea's 3-0 win over Burnley, Frank Lampard has confirmed.

Timo Werner was drafted into the starting line-up after Pulisic, who scored a hat-trick in the corresponding fixture last season, tweaked his hamstring prior to kick-off on Saturday.

Chelsea were unfazed by the United States international's absence, with Hakim Ziyech netting the opener to become their first player since Diego Costa in 2014 to score in each of his first two starts in all competitions.

Kurt Zouma powered in his third Premier League goal of the season – already a career-best tally – before Ziyech teed up Werner to round off the scoring with 20 minutes remaining.

The injury to Pulisic, who came on as a second-half substitute in the 4-0 win over Krasnodar on Wednesday, was the only sour note for Chelsea, but though he was confident it would not mean a long spell on the sidelines, Lampard could not give any guarantees. 

"Christian had a small sensation in his hamstring. So, we had to pull him," Lampard told a news conference.

"He couldn't play the game and he felt that in part of the warm-up. We will have to scan it.

"He is frustrated as he got fit and we rested him in the week where he comes on and scores. He is so keen to do well for us but we have to scan him and see how it is, so I can’t give you a time on that."

Chelsea have now kept clean sheets in back-to-back Premier League games for the first time since October 2018 and Lampard is pleased to see his team developing positively.

"It was a very complete performance. It's a tough place to come here and play, they make it very difficult," Lampard added.

"You know you have to defend your box well, you have to be very strong with the first and second balls. I wanted that to be one focus and the other to be to keep developing the way we play on the ball.

"That is what really pleased me today. Some of the passing and the movement in the team was very good. It feels like a nice step forward.

"I keep talking about the work we need to do, we are nowhere near the end of the road with that, so the performance was a really solid win. Certainly we have had good momentum from this week.

"I'm not going to jump and up and down after a win like this, but it was a really positive day."

Burnley failed to register a single shot on target against the Blues but Sean Dyche was frustrated his team were not awarded a penalty when Edouard Mendy and Ashley Barnes collided in the fifth minute.

"I think we started well. We should have had a penalty, but we know our record with penalties – I don't know what penalties are or aren't any more. I'm not remotely saying that would win us the game, but it would have given us a chance," said Dyche.

The Clarets have been awarded five penalties in the Premier League since the start of the 2017-18 season, the fewest of any ever-present team in that time.

He continued: "We're getting punished for everything. That's how it is, things go against you or feel like they're going against you.

"It's a challenge. The feeling that winning brings, the confidence it brings, it adds to what you're trying to achieve. There has to be a bit of realism – playing against these sides, top six sides, they can punish you, and they punished us today.

"I don't panic in general, to be honest. I don't think panicking will change anything. I think structure, organisation and hard work, that may change things."

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