The Blues had begun well against Manchester City but were blown away by three goals in 16 minutes as a combination of expert attacking play and collective and individual errors gave the visitors an unassailable advantage.
A brighter second-half showing included a late Callum Hudson-Odoi consolation goal, but the damage had most certainly been done. Lampard reflected afterwards on the journey his squad are on and what the short-term target must be, but first he pinpointed what most concerned him about a chastening day at the Bridge…
‘From 15 minutes onwards we allowed City to take control of the game, find spaces between the lines, and play with the quality of player they have,’ he said.
‘The two goals came in quick succession and you have to continue believing and keep going, and for the rest of the half the players found that difficult because of the levels City were playing at with and without the ball.
‘I said to the players at half-time, I sat there and had those days. I sat there and had those days and lifted a trophy at the end of the year. I remember getting beaten at Middlesbrough 2-0 or 3-0, when they had Viduka and Yakubu up front, and we were sat in the dressing room pretty demoralised. We bounced back because we had a spirit in the dressing room, we had a quality of player.
‘We’re in a different period now, but any player in football is going to have moments like that. Some of the results we’ve seen this season for other teams, Man City, Liverpool and others, have been harsh for them. Now, because we’re in a bit of a period, it becomes even harsher for us. I don’t want to hide away from that, but the players, myself, have to take it on the chin and react.’
Lampard contrasted Chelsea and City’s differing experience and form
‘City as a team have been together a long time and had a lot of success. They are getting decent results and not really conceding. They are in a position where they pump out results. For us we came off a really good patch and went into a difficult patch. It’s something young players, new players are dealing with and learning.
‘When City turned up the heat in the first half, our players didn’t react for the goals and some of that is a confidence issue when you see the levels you want to get to and you’re not there. We are having a tough little time and City took advantage of that in the first half.
‘The second half the players would have learned a lot. The younger players reacted well in the second half. Even Billy Gilmour coming on performed really well.’
Lampard was asked if he was feeling the pressure
‘I expected periods of difficulty this year. I said it when we beat Leeds and people were championing us to be title contenders. I know it doesn’t come that easy. I know where we are at.
‘One month ago people were asking when I’m signing a new contract, and now people will be saying different things because in a tight, busy period we have lost four games of football in quick succession. The pressure remains constant in this job. In tough moments that will be there, I’m not unaware of that. My job is to keep working, and lift the players who felt the differences of City in the first half.
‘We are fighting to try and match their levels and I know it takes us time. The reality is a lot of the players who have come in are new, are young, have been injured, haven’t played together. It was the first time I’ve been able to play Ziyech, Pulisic and Werner in the same team.
‘Without a doubt we have the character to get out of it, because we went 16 games unbeaten. What we can control is what we do tonight and tomorrow and the next day and what we do against Morecambe and what we do against Fulham.’