Chelsea manager Frank Lampard is confident his team can put their defeat against Valencia in their opening Champions League game behind them as they prepare to tackle Lille in France on Wednesday.
The London club lost 1-0 at home to the Spaniards a fortnight ago and the Group H game in northern France has taken on extra importance for both sides with Lille on the rebound from a 3-0 defeat away to Ajax.
“I thought Valencia wasn’t the worst game for us. It was a harsh lesson in switching off for a second and losing a match at this level,” Lampard said at Tuesday’s pre-game press conference.
“I think that idea ramps up when you travel away from home in the Champions League and play at stadiums like this against top European teams. Lille have a lot of threats to us, particularly in forward areas where they have a lot of speed,” he said of a side who finished second in Ligue 1 last season but have since sold several leading players including forward Nicolas Pepe, who joined Arsenal.
“It is not the be all and end all, there are four more games after this and we have to look at the big picture, but as we sit here now with no points, it is certainly a game we have to be very ready for to try to pick up something.”
Chelsea are fresh from winning their last two matches, including a 2-0 victory against Brighton and Hove Albion on Saturday which left a team sprinkled with youth in seventh in the Premier League.
Lampard said: “Hopefully we can bring the confidence from the last two results we have had, two really solid wins, and bring it into tomorrow night. We have to trust that if we play to our best then we will get the result we want.”
Defender Fikayo Tomori and striker Tammy Abraham, both 21, will both hope to keep their places against Lille along with 20-year-old midfielder Mason Mount.
Kante to return?
Meanwhile, Lampard is hopeful midfielder N’Golo Kante will be fit to return after missing the last two matches in what has so far been an injury-hit season.
The France star trained on Tuesday morning and will be assessed on the morning of the game.
“Everyone is working towards getting him regularly fit so he can play some continuous games and I am hoping that it is coming really soon because we obviously need him,” said Lampard, who also defended Ross Barkley after the midfielder was filmed on a night out in Liverpool on Sunday.
Barkley, who missed a penalty against Valencia, featured in several tabloid newspaper reports after apparently dropping takeaway food in the back of a taxi.
“He hasn’t committed a crime, probably other than eating chips in the back of a cab, which is probably a bit out of order for the cabbie,” Lampard joked.
“But on a serious note what he has probably done from my point of view is be naive to be out on that evening in the build-up to a Champions League game. He has admitted that as well, I am very aware of that and on a professional level those are little things that shouldn’t happen.”