Diego Simeone insisted it was "normal" for Luis Suarez to be annoyed after being replaced in Atletico Madrid's defeat to Chelsea, explaining the decision by saying his side "weren't at it up top". 

Goals from Hakim Ziyech and Emerson Palmieri gave Chelsea a 2-0 second-leg victory over Simeone's LaLiga leaders, who had succumbed to an Olivier Giroud goal in a 1-0 defeat in Madrid. 

Suarez mustered just one attempt and had only 19 touches before he was replaced by Angel Correa in the 58th minute at Stamford Bridge. After leaving the field with a bemused smile on his face, the former Barcelona frontman retired to the stands.

The 34-year-old has now failed to score in his last 25 Champions League away games, only one less than his tally of 26 goals in the competition. 

"It's normal that players are annoyed when you take them off," Simeone told Movistar. 

"We wanted to change things up top and find a different way to attack. I'm not looking for excuses. 

"They deserved to win over the two legs. The first leg was even, but they got their goal. Today they were better than us and deserved to win.

"We tried to find a way to score, but we weren't at it up top despite our effort."

With Atletico just four points clear of Barcelona at the top of LaLiga with 11 games left to play, Simeone addressed the suggestion that the Champions League was not his side's priority. 

He also reserved praise for standout performer Joao Felix, who went close to scoring late in the game for a visiting side that finished with 10 men, Stefan Savic dismissed for elbowing Antonio Rudiger. 

"It's easy to have regrets after the tie is over," said Simeone. "You can't have regrets, the game has gone now. We need to use it to learn. 

"We wanted to stay in the Champions League, but we didn't play that well in this year's tournament, but I'm very happy especially with how Joao Felix played today. 

"We looked to change our system, tried to press them, but they were able to get through it, they were just better than us. You can't say more than that. We need to improve." 

Not for the first time during his run as a Sky Sports pundit, Roy Keane looked like he might combust. 

Manchester City had raced into a 3-0 lead against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, piling more pressure on under-fire boss Frank Lampard, but Keane had an expensively assembled attack in his crosshairs. 

"The attacking players need to show up," he said of a line-up boasting big money close-season arrivals Hakim Ziyech and Timo Werner. Kai Havertz could only make the bench. 

"We spoke before the game, we said they have a lot of quality, but to me they don't look like they're up to it. What do Chelsea need? 

"They need a miracle to get back into this game. They've been shocking, particularly the attacking players." 

Alongside him, former Liverpool great Graeme Souness had an issue with Ziyech's tracking back – or lack thereof – on Kevin De Bruyne's goal. 

"Just watch Ziyech, he takes the free-kick, he wanders in and watch him. Big players don’t act like that," he said. "Sprint back as fast as you possibly can, you don't stand and watch the game like this. 

"I'm sure when Frank sees that, he'll point out to Ziyech that you cannot do that in our football."

When Lampard was sacked a little over three weeks later, his uncle Harry Redknapp was similarly and more bluntly parochial about the biggest story in "our football".

"When you look at the players, people say he's spent all this money, did he bring the players in? Did he bring the Germans in?" he rhetorically asked on talkSPORT.

"The two German players have been massive disappointments, massive. I'm not even sure Timo Werner is cut out for Premier League football, the physical side is too much for him."

Perhaps it is a function of the frequent changes in Chelsea's dugout that narratives around goodies and baddies are so hastily constructed. Remember Cesc Fabregas, Diego Costa and Eden Hazard as the "three rats" after Jose Mourinho's 2015 demise?

In that context, the role Ziyech and the two Germans played in Thomas Tuchel's Blues comprehensively downing Atletico Madrid gave a stark demonstration how much Werner and Havertz's compatriot has entirely changed the mood and trajectory of this talented team.

KAI HOPES

It said much of Havertz's woes since joining from Bayer Leverkusen for an initial £72million that Redknapp didn't actually use his name when he was the focus of his opprobrium. 

One Premier League goal set against 12 in his final Bundesliga campaign suggests there is still plenty of ground to make up, but in a couple of blurring seconds, Havertz showed exactly what made him one of the most sought-after talents in Europe. 

He was alert to move in front of Kieran Trippier and bring the ball under his spell. In that instant, Atleti were on the receiving end of the sort of lethal counter-attack that has become their Champions League calling card. 

Then it was time to marvel at the pace, power and poise as he approached halfway before shovelling possession into Werner's path. 

Under Tuchel, Havertz's shots per 90 minutes are up 2.3 from 1.4. The goals will surely come, but for now he had played his supporting role to perfection.

TURNING ON THE AFTER-WERNERS

However much Havertz will be keen to hit the back of the net, his desire must pale next to Werner's.

The former RB Leipzig star was simmering with intent from early on against Atleti, bustling in behind their defence early on.

That famous pace was put to its best use when he galloped onto Havertz's 34th-minute pass. Head up and on high alert, Werner assessed the scene, took a touch with the outside of his right foot and then lined up a low cross with his left.

The 25-year-old had fired wide a little earlier after Ziyech missed a kick, but he backed his team-mate to get it right this time.

Werner drew a brilliant save from Jan Oblak early in the second half and lashed into the side netting after his speed had again tormented Atleti.

Part of a collective also going at full tilt, he only has one goal under Tuchel so far, but 10 overall and seven assists this term are more goal involvements than any other Chelsea player in 2020-21.

There lies one of the joys of this 13-match unbeaten run for Tuchel. He has had a watertight defence in place from the get-go. Now, an all-star attack is just starting to shine.

HAKIM LIVING THE DREAM AGAIN

When he delighted on Ajax's phenomenal run to the semi-finals in 2018-19, Ziyech showed he loved this stage. 

He particularly loves to grace it with his sumptuous left foot, but Werner's cross was so immediate and so precise, he had to stick his weaker right on the end of it. 

Oblak could not keep the shot out and four of Ziyech's Champions League goals have arrived against Spanish opposition. Roll on Real Madrid in the quarters? 

The 27-year-old was evidently enjoying himself when he jinked into space on halfway and released Werner early in the second period – his three key passes in the match level best for Chelsea alongside Reece James, whose deliveries from right-back were majestic.

That was actually a touch under recent par for Ziyech, who is creating an average of 3.6 chances per game in the Tuchel era – taking his 2.4 under Lampard up a notch. 

By the time substitute Emerson Palmieri thundered home in stoppage time to seal a 3-0 aggregate triumph, there could be no question Chelsea's attacking stars had shown up. 

Maybe they could go all the way – a Champions League miracle form the rubble of the Lampard era. 

Chelsea reached the Champions League quarter-finals for the first time in seven years after Hakim Ziyech and Emerson scored in a 2-0 second-leg win over Atletico Madrid. 

The Blues went into the game knowing they had never been knocked out of a two-legged European tie after winning the first leg away from home, and Ziyech added to Olivier Giroud's goal from the previous meeting with a cool finish in the 34th minute. 

It was Ziyech's first goal at Stamford Bridge for Chelsea, but the glory was shared on a night when every player for the hosts excelled. Atletico had Stefan Savic sent off before substitute Emerson rounded out an impressive performance by the Premier League team, firing home in stoppage time. 

The manner of the 3-0 aggregate triumph will delight Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel, whose side are now unbeaten in 13 matches in all competitions since he took charge - they brushed the LaLiga leaders aside without looking unduly threatened, too.

Renan Lodi tested Edouard Mendy with a looping shot in the fourth minute for Atletico, the Chelsea goalkeeper easily claiming the visitors' first on-target attempt in the tie.

Midway through the first half, Yannick Carrasco went to ground in the box after contact from Cesar Azpilicueta's arm, but the penalty appeal was dismissed.

Chelsea doubled their advantage on aggregate following a counter-attacking move, Timo Werner bursting into the box before squaring to Ziyech, whose low shot squirmed under Jan Oblak and into the net. 

Oblak did get down quickly to stop Werner from adding to Chelsea's lead with a near-post drive early in the second half, while Reece James struck a dipping drive that the Atleti goalkeeper tipped over the crossbar after 56 minutes. 

The lively Werner blazed over the crossbar just after the hour mark, but Atletico failed to capitalise on his miss, mounting little by way of a fightback besides a close-range attempt by Joao Felix that Mendy saved easily. 

Savic was shown a straight red eight minutes from time for elbowing Antonio Rudiger, and Chelsea rubbed salt in Atleti's wounds when Emerson scored with his only touch of the game, rattling the ball low into the corner of the net after Christian Pulisic played him in. 
 

What does it mean? Tuchel continues to deliver 

It was Atletico who knocked Chelsea out of the Champions League last time they made it beyond the last 16, defeating the Blues in the semi-finals in 2014. However, Tuchel's in-form team gained revenge with a consummate performance. 

James flies forward 

Chelsea look a better team with James involved and he helped to keep Carrasco quiet while raiding forward down his team's right flank.

The England international made three key passes and attempting two shots on goal – one of which almost beat Oblak. 

Six and out for Suarez 

Luis Suarez gave a wry smile as he left the field after 58 minutes but he had little to be pleased about after having just 19 touches of the ball - the joint-fewest of Altetico's starting outfield players – and mustering just one shot.

The Uruguay striker has failed to score in all six of his Champions League appearances this season, his last away goal in the competition coming for Barcelona against Roma in September 2015. 

What's next? 

Atletico are at home against Deportivo Alaves in LaLiga on Sunday, while Chelsea entertain Sheffield United in an FA Cup quarter-final at Stamford Bridge. 

Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel is delighted to have the chance to finally work with N'Golo Kante, a midfielder who "makes teams better".

Due to a hamstring injury, Kante has made just two substitute appearances since Tuchel replaced Frank Lampard in charge at Stamford Bridge last month. 

However, he has been deemed fit enough to start Thursday's FA Cup tie with Barnsley and Tuchel has talked up the qualities of the France international, who was strongly linked with Paris Saint-Germain during the German coach's time in charge at the Ligue 1 club.

"I think N'Golo fits into any manager's plans on the planet. I was desperate to have him in my teams [in the past]," Tuchel told reporters. 

"I am so happy to have him back again. We put him on the pitch against Tottenham and he helped everybody on the pitch, which is what he does. 

"To see the guy live, to see how he works, how humble he is, the quality he gives to the team. I am so humble to be his coach. He will start tomorrow." 

Kante has made 26 appearances in all competitions this term, 19 of which have come in the Premier League. 

The former Leicester City player ranks particularly high for interceptions - only six players in the division to have played at least 13 games have managed more per 90 minutes than Kante's average of 2.32. 

For all of the midfielder's undoubted quality, though, keeping him fit is now the biggest challenge for Tuchel. 

"I'm not concerned about any more injuries because I feel the support and quality of the medical department," he said. "We can manage his minutes and workload and take care of him. I'm not concerned about his quality.  

"What I see on the pitches here at Cobham is, how can I put it, everything I expected - and I expected a lot because I am a huge fan of him. 

"I can see the input he has on teams. He makes teams better. He has the mentality of a water carrier but on such a high level." 

Tuchel also confirmed at Wednesday's pre-match news conference that Hakim Ziyech will play a part against Championship side Barnsley. 

Ziyech's first season at the club has been hampered by injuries and Tuchel has challenged the Morocco winger to regain the type of form he displayed at Ajax. 

"Hakim is another one who hopefully tomorrow we will see the best of him," the German coach said. "We count on Hakim to do something different, no doubt about that.  

"He has lots of quality and we count on him like everyone else. He has had a good training week and will have the chance to show the same quality he shows in training." 

"For me it's clear he needs to adapt to this kind of football, this kind of league. He's come from a strong Ajax squad, but they were the benchmark in the league. 

"And it's not the same intensity and it's not the same competition as it is here. But he's adapting, and he has the certain quality to decide matches and the certain quality to do the unexpected." 

Thiago Silva remains on the sidelines with a hamstring problem, although Tuchel provided a positive update on the veteran defender's injury. 

"He feels better and better, which is good, and he's getting the right treatment," he said. 

"One thing we can be sure of with Thiago is that he will be spending every minute available to him to speed up the process of healing. It is a muscle injury, though, so we cannot force it and we will wait for Thiago."

Chelsea have been eliminated from just two of their previous 54 FA Cup ties against opponents from a lower division, though one of those instances was against Barnsley, back in the 2007-08 season.

"We play every competition to win it," Tuchel said. "Every round in a cup competition is the most important round.

"It's an elimination game so we have to be totally focused and on point tomorrow when the match starts. Winning the competition would be huge. It's one of the most prestigious cups in the world and it's played at Wembley. 

"Even as a little boy in Germany, with no internet or sports channel, you know the words Wembley for sure. It's a big, big game to play in and a big goal to achieve. But tomorrow is the most important game."​

It did not take long for Chelsea to run out of patience with Frank Lampard following significant investment in their first-team squad during the close season.

Chelsea spent in excess of £200million on reinforcements for the 2020-21 campaign but with the club ninth in the Premier League and 11 points off top at the midway point, they dispensed with the services of their head coach on Monday.

Lampard arrived just 18 months ago with the club under a transfer embargo and was lauded for his faith in youth during a debut campaign that yielded a top-four finish and an FA Cup final appearance.

However, Chelsea have not managed to maintain an upward trajectory this season and after a run of two wins in eight Premier League games the decision was taken to cut ties with the club legend.

It is fair to say some of Chelsea's new arrivals have not lived up to expectations this term and we look at the numbers behind their performances.

Timo Werner – £45m from RB Leipzig

Werner arrived from Leipzig with big expectations having been involved in 36 league goals (26 scored, eight assisted) in 2019-20 – a tally only bettered by Robert Lewandowski (38), Ciro Immobile (45) and Lionel Messi (46).

He did not take long to find his stride, having a hand in 11 goals (eight scored, three assisted) in a 10-game stretch in all competitions between September and November.

However, the only goal he has scored in 15 appearances since the end of that streak came against Morecambe in the FA Cup third round – it ended an 827-minute drought in all competitions.

He is without a goal in 11 Premier League outings and his difficulties in front were compounded by his failure to convert from the penalty spot against Luton Town on Sunday.

 

Kai Havertz – £71m from Bayer Leverkusen

Alongside Werner (14) and Tammy Abraham (15), Havertz (10) is one of just three Chelsea players to have been involved in at least 10 goals in all competitions this season.

However, half of those have come against lower-league opposition – he scored the first hat-trick of his senior career against Barnsley in the EFL Cup in September, and versus Morecambe in the FA Cup this month had a goal and an assist.

When looking at his figures from the Premier League, he has just one goal and one assist in 16 appearances – 11 of which have come from the start.

Lampard seemed to struggle to figure out how to get the best out of versatile forward Havertz and given his price tag that will be high on the agenda for his replacement.

Ben Chilwell - £45m from Leicester City

A plantar fascia injury delayed Chilwell's Chelsea debut but he was quick to make an impact, becoming just the third Blues player to both score and assist on their Premier League debut, joining Deco and Alvaro Morata.

Within 13 games he had already matched his career best of four Premier League assists in a single season, while his six goal involvements in that time frame was the same as he managed across the entirety of 2019-20 for Leicester.

Crosses from the full-backs were a key part of Lampard's approach and Chilwell's 82 in open play is second to Reece James' 97.

But while 24.7 per cent of James' deliveries were accurate, only 13.4 of Chilwell's were - the third-worst rate of any Blues player to find a team-mate with at least one cross in open play.

Hakim Ziyech – £33.3m from Ajax

An assist for Werner in a pre-season friendly against Brighton provided promising signs, but a knee injury meant his competitive debut did not arrive until October.

He has registered two goals and four assists in 17 appearances in all competitions, but only Mason Mount (2.5) has created more chances per 90 minutes than Ziyech (2.4) this season (all comps).

Furthermore, he creates 0.8 Opta-defined 'big chances' per 90 minutes, which is the most of any Chelsea player to have featured in more than two games.

His expected assists in open play per 90 minutes of 0.21 ranks joint-seventh alongside Kevin De Bruyne (among players to have played at least 450 minutes), so with some better finishing his impact may look more impressive on paper.

 

Edouard Mendy – £22m from Rennes

After Kepa Arrizabalaga committed three errors leading to goals in as many Premier League appearances to start the season, bringing in Mendy from Rennes appeared an astute decision.

He kept nine clean sheets in his first 12 appearances in all competitions, but in his subsequent nine outings he has shut out the opposition just twice and conceded 13 goals.

In the Premier League, Mendy has let in 12 goals from an expected goals on target (xGOT) of 10.8, meaning he has let in one more goal than would have been anticipated from the chances he has faced.

That is the joint-eighth worst in the league among keepers to have played over 900 minutes.

 

Thiago Silva – free transfer

Although he became the first outfield player to make an error leading to a goal on their Premier League debut in two years when his loose control was seized upon by Callum Robinson in a 3-3 draw with West Brom in September, Silva's experience seemed to significantly improve Chelsea's defence.

Only Kurt Zouma (64.6 per cent) has a better duel success rate than Silva's 63.5 among players to have played at least 10 games in all competitions, and he has helped them tighten up when defending set-pieces.

Excluding goals scored directly from free-kicks, Chelsea conceded 13 times from set-pieces in the Premier League in 2019-20, while this term they have only shipped five from dead balls and one of those came when Silva was not in the side.

The Brazilian has also made them more of a threat from set-plays, providing two of the nine goals Chelsea have scored in such situations.

Chelsea eased into the fourth round of the FA Cup with a 4-0 win over Morecambe on Sunday to end a three-match run without a victory.

Perhaps in a sign of the growing pressure on his position after a run of one win in seven games in all competitions, Frank Lampard named a very strong team for the visit of the League Two side to Stamford Bridge.

Mason Mount's fine strike on the midfielder's 22nd birthday opened the scoring before Timo Werner ended a goal drought of 827 minutes shortly before half-time.

Callum Hudson-Odoi got his side's third and only goalkeeper Mark Halstead denied the Blues further goals until Kai Havertz powered in a late header.

Morecambe almost snatched a shock lead with 11 minutes played, Kepa Arrizabalaga - on his 100th Chelsea appearance - doing well to stop Adam Phillips' drilled cross from going over the line.

Chelsea's breakthrough came with 18 minutes gone, Mount given time to pick his spot from 20 yards out, leaving goalkeeper Halstead with little chance.

Werner had missed an early header but could not pass up the chance to make it 2-0 just before half-time, the forward prodding into an empty net after Havertz headed back across goal.

Any lingering doubts about the result were removed four minutes after the restart, Hakim Ziyech's pass beating the offside trap and allowing Hudson-Odoi to power a shot through Halstead.

Havertz should have made it 4-0 only for Halstead to block at the near post and the keeper made a second fine stop to deny Christian Pulisic on the rebound, the keeper's best moment of a good display.

He could do nothing to prevent Haverz from finding the back of the net five minutes from time, though, the midfielder meeting Cesar Azpilicueta's deep cross with a thumping header.
 

What does it mean? Light relief for Lampard ahead of testing run

It would have been an almighty shock had Morecambe become the first team since Manchester United in 1997-98 to knock Chelsea out of the competition in the third round.

Lampard took no chances, fielding a formidable line-up against a fourth-tier side who had to isolate for 10 days after a coronavirus outbreak in late December.

The Blues sealed a comfortable win that will have lifted spirits ahead of a run of five league games that includes visits to Fulham, Leicester City and Tottenham.

Ziyech enjoys roaming role

His shooting was a little wayward but Ziyech was certainly precise with his passing, albeit against modest opposition who only returned to training this week.

He made more passes in the Morecambe half (56) and created more chances (four) than any other Chelsea player in his 67 minutes on the pitch.

Can Werner kick on?

It will have been a relief for Werner to score his first goal since November, but there was still a feeling of disconnect between the striker and his supporting cast and he only completed one more pass (14) than goalkeeper Kepa.

Lampard will have hoped to give the £47.5million man a confidence boost. Time will tell if it worked.

What's next?

Chelsea return to league duties at Fulham next Friday in a west London derby, with the game at Leicester to follow on January 19.

Frank Lampard admits it is no coincidence Chelsea's disappointing form has coincided with Hakim Ziyech's absence, with the winger potentially returning to face Manchester City. 

Ziyech has missed Chelsea's last six matches in all competitions due to a hamstring injury sustained in the 3-1 victory over Leeds United on December 5. 

That win lifted Chelsea to the top of the Premier League but they have won only one of their five top-flight games since, leaving them six points adrift of leaders Liverpool having also played a game more than the reigning champions. 

The Blues have a 27 per cent win rate in the 11 Premier League games Ziyech has not started this term, compared to 80 per cent in the five games he has featured from the beginning. 

And after seeing his wide players again fail to fully click in Monday's 1-1 draw with Aston Villa, head coach Lampard is eager to get Ziyech back involved again as soon as possible. 

"I don't think it's a coincidence," he said at his post-match news conference. "I can't rely completely on him.

"I think with Hakim, the way he was playing, he was being very effective for us in terms of assists, goal creation, chance creation and some goals.  

"He also had a real confidence in the way he was playing and we were very fluid at the time. He got injured when we were in a great run of form, so I think it has been a point.  

"You are going to miss players at that level when they drop out and we want him back." 

Chelsea have a six-day break before hosting Manchester City - a game that is now in jeopardy following a coronavirus outbreak at City, forcing the postponement of their trip to Everton on Monday. 

"There's a possibility Ziyech could be fit for that one if it goes ahead on Sunday," Lampard said. "I will know later in the week, but he is progressing to the point where he is close." 

Despite only featuring seven times in the Premier League since joining in the close season, Ziyech's total of three assists is bettered only by Timo Werner and Ben Chilwell (both four). 

No Chelsea player can match the Morocco international's average of 2.77 chances created per 90 minutes either, Callum Hudson-Odoi the next best for the Blues at 2.66.

Hudson-Odoi was recalled to the starting line-up for the visit of in-form Villa and, despite only managing a single shot, Lampard was pleased with the winger's overall display. 

"I liked his performance today and I liked the range of his passing, which was very evident in the first half," Lampard said.  

"He played a couple of great cross-field balls and some of his footwork, touches and movement were great.  

"The next part is the end product because we want to see Callum as he did against Arsenal, to go one against one, to be confident to go one against one, because he has the ability to do it. 

"The top wingers produce it in the Premier League in recent years and Callum definitely has capabilities. That will be the next stage for him."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Frank Lampard has "no doubt" Timo Werner will come through his difficult spell of form for Chelsea. 

Chelsea are under pressure ahead of Monday's home fixture with West Ham having lost two straight Premier League games, going down to both Everton and Wolves on the road. 

A third consecutive top-flight defeat would represent their worst run for over five years. 

Germany international Werner, a high-profile signing from RB Leipzig, has not scored for eight matches across all competitions. 

He particularly struggled to make an impact in the games against Everton and Wolves, but Lampard insists his deployment on the left of a front three is not the reason for his woes. 

Asked why Werner was playing on the left, Chelsea boss Lampard said: "For different reasons. We had a big reference for a target man [Olivier Giroud]. 

"Timo for Leipzig and Germany played in lots of roles, so it is not a problem for him to be used there. He can be used across the front three. 

"I have players who can play on both sides. Not all, like Hakim [Ziyech] on the right, but Timo and Christian [Pulisic] can play left and right. 

"It can give the opposition a problem. I like to have the option to change it at times. 

"With Timo, any goalscorer wants to score regularly but must have the mental toughness and confidence to go through periods.  

"That is every striker. It is no problem. He needs to keep getting in those areas and the goals will come, no doubt."

Late checks will be made on the fitness of wingers Ziyech and Callum Hudson-Odoi, who both trained on Friday after spells out with injury. 

West Ham did the double over Chelsea last season, winning the match at Stamford Bridge 1-0.  

That was the first time in 14 attempts they had won away at Chelsea in the Premier League. 

Declan Rice continues to impress for West Ham and England, leading to Lampard being asked if he regretted Chelsea allowing the youth product to slip through their fingers.

"He is a fantastic player for West Ham and England - fair play," Lampard said about Rice. 

"It's a good story because with a lot of those stories, it shows a strength of character.  

"I wouldn't say it's a regret. Our academy is one of the best in the world and it's not easy because it's not an exact science. Declan deserves personal credit for the start he has had at West Ham." 

Three straight wins against the Blues would be West Ham's best run in the fixture for 46 years. 

It is the start of a key stretch for Chelsea, with matches against Arsenal, Aston Villa and Manchester City also coming up during the busy festive period.

Chelsea boss Frank Lampard intends to stick with his favoured 4-3-3 formation against Wolves despite potentially being without three wingers.

Lampard has used that system throughout the campaign and the Blues were unbeaten in 14 games prior to Saturday's 1-0 Premier League loss at Everton.

Chelsea were without Hakim Ziyech, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Christian Pulisic at Goodison Park, so Timo Werner and Kai Havertz started out wide and had little impact on the game.

Ziyech and Hudson-Odoi will play no part in Wednesday's trip to Wolves, while Pulisic is included in the squad but not over a hamstring issue, though Lampard will not change his formation.

"That is not something we will do in the short term, no. We've been playing really well," he said at Monday's pre-match news conference. 

"Hakim has certainly been very pivotal and Callum when he's been playing has done well and all of a sudden we are very short on wingers. But we have capabilities to still play. 

"It wasn't the formation that we didn't get right at the weekend, it was the way we executed it, which we have players that can definitely comfortably do that. So we just need to improve on the weekend."

Asked if Pulisic has a chance of playing, Lampard said: "He trained on the day we played against Everton and he felt better so he is in the squad for tomorrow. 

"It is yet to be decided whether he starts or not but it is positive news from where it was at the weekend."

Chelsea had 72 per cent of the ball against Everton but failed to register a shot on target in the second half, their last effort coming from defender Kurt Zouma after 28 minutes.

Lampard conceded after the game his side did not have the answers to break down their opponents, not helped by the absence of Ziyech.

Chelsea have won four and drawn one of the five league games Ziyech has started this season for a win rate of 80 per cent, compared to 28.6 per cent - two wins, three draws, two losses - in the seven games he has not started.

But Lampard insisted he has other players in his squad capable of stepping up to fill the void of the Morocco international, who is expected to return from a thigh injury in the next fortnight.

"The Premier League is unforgiving," he said. "We saw that with different results over the weekend and we see it pretty much every weekend and matchday. 

"We weren't at our top level on Saturday and we got beaten. That's it. We've been on a long unbeaten run, playing some really good football as well as winning games. 

"We dropped our level for a game. That's absolutely on us to pick it up again straight away."

He added: "What we have to come to terms with, it felt like Everton played very similar to how Tottenham played against us a couple of weeks ago and if people are watching us of course they will to stop us from doing what we've been doing well. 

"It's on us to find other ways. We didn't move the ball quickly enough as a team to hit the sides to maybe turn them around.

"So I think we just need to understand that when teams make it difficult for us, we have to have ways to get round that. Our level dropped.

"If we'd been at our top level we would have found a way to get round that. I certainly accept this group of players going so long unbeaten that there is one game that feels like that. 

"And we can't really make any excuse of not having the wingers. It is unfortunate in the short term. I think we have players capable of playing in those areas so I don't want to hang on that one. Hopefully the wingers are all back soon anyway."

Chelsea were paired with Atletico Madrid in Monday's Champions League last-16 draw and Lampard acknowledged his side have a huge task on their hands if they are to progress.

"Most people will say it's the toughest draw we could have had when you go off current form, how they are doing in LaLiga, European experience and the quality of the team and players

"On the other hand, all draws are difficult in the Champions League. We have to have belief in ourselves when that game comes around. You have to beat these teams if you're going to win the Champions League. It is what it is.

"I watched them knock Liverpool out last year. They are obviously a great team with experience and quality in the squad. Most people would say that they were one of the toughest we could have drawn on paper. We have to turn up and do our job."

Chelsea have been given a fitness boost after confirmation hamstring injuries suffered by Hakim Ziyech and Callum Hudson-Odoi are not serious.

Morocco attacking midfielder Ziyech limped out of Chelsea's 3-1 win over Leeds United in the Premier League last weekend, while England winger Hudson-Odoi suffered a similar injury in training.

However, Chelsea boss Frank Lampard said after his side's 1-1 draw with Krasnodar in their final Champions League group game on Tuesday that the duo will be back soon.

Chelsea face Everton in the Premier League on Saturday before games against Wolves and West Ham on December 15 and 21 respectively.

"Both players are hopefully going to be fit for a week on Wednesday," Lampard told a post-match media conference.

"They had scans which are showing the injuries will be two weeks, so that's positive, particularly with Hakim.

"With Callum we didn't know what to expect when he got injured in training a couple of days ago."

Victory for Chelsea over Krasnodar would have given them their highest ever points total in a single Champions League group stage (16).

But the Blues fell short of the milestone after a subdued game at Stamford Bridge, having already qualified as Group E winners as Jorginho's penalty cancelled out Remy Cabella's opener.

Lampard acknowledged none of his players really stood out against the Russian side, but he was impressed with the performance of midfielder Billy Gilmour.

The 19-year-old Scot made 83 passes with an accuracy of 89.2 per cent, and had 97 touches – more than any other player on the pitch.

"Billy Gilmour was very good on his first start this season. I'm very pleased. We wanted to win but that wasn't to be," Lampard told BT Sport.

"I liked the discipline of the team – they had some counter-attacking moments but nothing big."

On whether he would send Gilmour out on loan, Lampard added: "Not sure. The way he trains and plays I can see him with us. I have to make sure the pathway is right.

"Everyone was pretty good. There weren't outstanding performances, but I asked the lads to be professional and they were.

"I don't think we can over-analyse the group stage – we've won the group and it's good progression."

Lampard also praised the composure of Tino Anjorin, who became the ninth youngest player to debut for Chelsea in the Champions League at 19 years and 15 days.

"He is a work in progress, but the more he trains with us the better he will get," Lampard said.

"I thought he did well tonight with a good debut. In training he has showed a real ability to step straight into the level in terms of his ability on the ball."

Kepa Arrizabalaga will make his first Chelsea appearance since October when Krasnodar visit Stamford Bridge in the Champions League on Tuesday, but Hakim Ziyech will miss out.

The world's most expensive goalkeeper made an error resulting in a goal in each of his three Premier League appearances this season and has been usurped by new signing Edouard Mendy.

Mendy has proved a stellar signing for Chelsea, having kept nine clean sheets in his first 13 appearances for the club. He also has the best Champions League save percentage (93.8) among keepers to have featured at least three times this season.

With Chelsea guaranteed to advance from Group E in first place, Lampard will take the opportunity to give Kepa another chance in the first team.

"Kepa starts. As I always say about the team it is about attitude and how you approach the game," said the Blues boss. 

"Obviously, his situation is different because goalkeepers have to be patient when they're not starting games and generally with Mendy's form he's been a very regular pick for me easily.

"But this game is one for Kepa, who is training brilliantly well and acting brilliantly well. These periods will happen in a player's career and sometimes they make you stronger and better at the other end, so I have no qualms about putting him back in.

"He has been very supportive [of Mendy]. I have seen that. I watch from afar and he has been supporting him – quietly, as is his right – and is training well. That's what I look at. Goalkeepers have to push each other as a group, and I see that. His reaction has been spot on."

Lampard assured he is not being pushed to ensure Kepa gets time on the pitch given the £71.6million fee Chelsea paid to sign him from Athletic Bilbao in 2018.

Asked if there was pressure on him to play the Spaniard, he replied: "There's no pressure. The pressure is to win games and I have to do the right thing game by game.

"Mendy has made himself a permanent fixture because with the pressure to win games you have to pick people in form. But the game tomorrow is a chance to give Mendy a rest and give Kepa a game."

Ziyech will not feature against Krasnodar, however, having lasted just 30 minutes of Chelsea's 3-1 win against Leeds United on Saturday.

Lampard has no long-term concerns about the Morocco international's fitness after he missed time at the start of the season with a knee problem.

"He is going for a scan this afternoon so I will have more information tomorrow on his hamstring injury. He's out and Callum Hudson-Odoi is also out, he had a hamstring problem in training," he said.

"I think [Ziyech] was looking good. The injury was looking great. I hope it's a minor injury. Long-term I am not worried about him at all."

Frank Lampard said Chelsea fans can dream of winning the Premier League title, though he warned the Blues must focus on improving after moving top of the table.

Chelsea climbed to the top of the summit ahead of Sunday's north London derby between Tottenham and Arsenal, and Liverpool's clash with Wolves after overcoming Leeds United 3-1 on Saturday.

Olivier Giroud, Kurt Zouma and Christian Pulisic scored for Chelsea, who moved a point clear of rivals Tottenham and defending champions Liverpool, albeit temporarily.

Chelsea are 13 games unbeaten across all competitions and nine in the Premier League amid a growing sense of belief at Stamford Bridge, where a limited number of fans were allowed to attend the match in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

The club have not won the Premier League since former boss Antonio Conte delivered the trophy in 2016-17.

Speaking during his post-match news conference, Chelsea head coach Lampard – whose Blues finished the day top of the Premier League table for the first time since 2018 – told reporters: "There's certainly nothing wrong with the fans thinking that [winning title]. Great to have them back, their input was huge, the noise they made was huge.

"You can see how excited they are at the end that we are top of the league. My job and our job is to know that it's a long season and the next question is how consistent can we be with this form, how much we can improve, because I believe there is a lot more we can do and there will be a lot of challenges ahead. Enjoy the evening.

"I will have that small glass of wine, maybe a large one, but at the same time we need to make sure we stay grounded. But there were a lot of good things. To play against Leeds in the form they are in and the type of team they are and be that dominant in terms of chances was a real great performance from us."

Giroud continued his red-hot form after being named in the XI as he became the first Chelsea player to score in six consecutive Premier League starts since Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink in October 2001.

Aged 34 years and 66 days, Giroud – who netted four goals in Chelsea's Champions League rout of Sevilla – is also the oldest player to ever score in six consecutive Premier League starts.

"I think his performance was great. Off the back of the Sevilla performance, the reference he is for us as a front man as and when balls come into an area he has the ability to be cool and clinical with his finishing," said Lampard, who also revealed Hakim Ziyech is battling a hamstring injury.

"He might have had two or three more today. The personality that he is in the team. I have said it before the game, people will always question me about who I play up front because I have options. When Oli is there I know I can rely on him. Today he was huge."

Pulisic was also on target in stoppage time against visiting Leeds – the United States star becoming the 13th different player to score for Chelsea in the Premier League this season. The Blues have had at least four more than any other side in the competition in 2020-21.

Lampard added: "Really pleased today. It's been a difficult period with the injury for him and he gets frustrated in a good way because he wants to play. Having played 60 plus minutes against Sevilla I knew this game would have needed a huge amount of energy for the players and thought it was wise to start him on the bench.

"My plan was probably to give him 30 minutes. But to play the period of the game he played, with the intensity of the game and to get his goal. He has an incredible gift, it sounds simple, but arriving in the six-yard box as a wide man, because that is where the goals are. So I was delighted that he got his goal and he is only going to get stronger now."

Hakim Ziyech has no doubt Chelsea can be Premier League title contenders this season.

After a 0-0 draw at home to leaders Tottenham on Sunday, Frank Lampard's side are third in the table – two points adrift of Spurs and Liverpool.

Ziyech was one of several big-name arrivals in the close season as the Blues set their sights on a first league title since 2016-17, with the 27-year-old already making a big impact, scoring once, providing three assists and creating 12 chances in total from six top-flight appearances.

And the former Ajax star said there was belief in Lampard's squad that they could challenge.

"Of course we can make a challenge," Ziyech said, via the Daily Express.

"You always have to believe in it. It starts from believing in it and then working every day harder. At the end of the day we will see what it brings.

"But you have to believe it is possible and that is what we are doing. We believe it."

The draw with Tottenham saw Chelsea extend their unbeaten run to 14 games in all competitions – their longest since November 2018.

It was the first goalless draw between the clubs in the Premier League since November 2015.

In a game of few clear chances – Chelsea mustered three attempts on target compared to Spurs' one – Tammy Abraham missed three presentable opportunities, before his replacement Olivier Giroud lofted a tame effort straight at Hugo Lloris late on.

"It felt like whoever was going to make the mistake would lose the game," added Ziyech, who had the game's first opportunity when he struck a dipping volley into Lloris' grasp.

"It was not really a game to play football. It was a tactical game. For their attackers and ours there was no space to play. We had much more of the ball than they had, but it was difficult to find space and create chances.

"Our feelings were mixed. A little disappointed because we were at home and we want to win the game but on the other side you have to look to yourself and say you didn't create enough."

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."

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