FRANK LAMPARD believes Chelsea’s flop show against Arsenal will finally end all talk of his team being title contenders this season.
Big changes are expected for this evening’s home game against in-form Aston Villa after their heaviest defeat so far this campaign.
Blues boss Lampard is demanding a huge response from his players in light of going down 3-1 against the struggling Gunners.
Lampard said: “People wanted to talk us up as title contenders — I never accepted that was the case because we are not there.
“That takes time to build and days like against Arsenal are certainly ones that we have to learn a big lesson from.
“I learn about the players and the players have to learn about themselves.
“Some are young and some are new to the Premier League and these tough times are things we will have to go through.
“This season was never going to be plain sailing, winning every week. We got confident and got into a position where we were not losing games and winning a lot of them.
“When you lose a couple of games, things become a lot tougher and the only way out of it is to fight and work hard.
“That’s what I will be instilling in the players — that idea — as it’s the only way you get out of a difficult little period for us.”
Chelsea have lost three of their last four and were even flattered by a 3-0 win over West Ham that masked the issues facing them.
Lampard is likely to tinker with his defence, with full-backs Reece James and Ben Chilwell possibly rested as they are struggling with injuries.
Up front is where the big issues lie, with Germans Timo Werner and Kai Havertz evidently finding it hard to relax into English football having joined for a combined £118million this summer.
Striker Olivier Giroud remained on the bench against his old club Arsenal but could get a rare start in place of Tammy Abraham.
Callum Hudson-Odoi, 20, was the only bright note after coming on at half-time on Saturday and offering energy and creativity from the flanks.
Chelsea faced a similar scenario when they were 3-0 down a West Brom in September — only that time they fought back for a draw.
Maybe, this is where we are at as a squad. Because when I see that in the first half, I don’t like it
Abraham did net a late goal against the Gunners but any hopes of an amazing comeback were KO’d by Jorginho’s penalty miss.
It summed up a miserable trip to the Emirates and Lampard (right) said: “The first half was certainly our worst performance of the season because it lacked energy.
“At West Brom there were clear errors and a combination of things that went against us in the game and the lads turned it round.
“The way we approached it in the first half against Arsenal wasn’t right.
“There will be some changes and I knew that anyway. I’m not going to bang the drum about the turnaround after that performance.
“It’s not the important point. But to play two games in two days, we have to make changes anyway.
“Some of them will happen now because of how the game went and people will have to come in and inject the energy and personality of our normal performances.
“The reason we went so many games unbeaten was because of that. We’ve come off that and must come back on it quickly.
“Maybe, this is where we are at as a squad. Because when I see that in the first half, I don’t like it.”
Chelsea’s iconic ex-captain and centre-half John Terry is now on the coaching staff at tonight’s opponents Villa, who have not conceded a goal in FOUR games.
Lampard said: “I’m sure John is having an influence as he’s one of the greatest centre-backs that played in the Premier League and in the world and has an absolute wealth of knowledge.
“His input will be invaluable to Dean Smith and all the staff and team work hard.
“You’ve seen a big uplift and I’m sure there’s a lot of hard work behind the scenes from John and all the staff.”
CHELSEA (likely): Mendy, Azpilicueta, Silva, Zouma, Emerson, Kante, Kovacic, Mount, Hudson-Odoi, Giroud, Pulisic.
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