Kepa Arrizabalaga, Pedro and Olivier Giroud have each played vital part in Chelsea’s recent good performances — and Frank Lampard deserves credit for playing his cards right.
Two wins in two games against Liverpool in the FA Cup and Everton in the Premier League gave Chelsea fans a new hope after previous poor performances.
This seemingly resurrected Chelsea side were inspired by figures in every department. But there are three unlikely heroes among those who stood out; Kepa, Pedro and Giroud.
Those three had bitter stints at some point during the season but have since become the important links in Chelsea set-up in the last two victories.
Kepa’s exclusion from the team
Kepa had missed five consecutive games before the Liverpool game. The Spanish goalkeeper was under heavy criticism for his poor shot-stopping records.
Looking back, it was a brilliant decision for Lampard to keep him out of the team for a while. The five games Kepa missed were one of the toughest runs of fixtures Chelsea had this season including Manchester United, Bayern Munich, Tottenham Hotspur and Leicester City.
It slowed down the barrage of criticism towards Kepa and gave him the time to regain his focus. He has kept two clean sheets in two games since, along with some important saves.
Giroud and Pedro were never deemed surplus to requirements
Meanwhile, Giroud and Pedro had simply been swept aside from the picture during the first half of the season. The additions of Tammy Abraham and Christian Pulisic to the Chelsea squad meant minutes on the pitch become scarce for the veteran pair.
But Lampard repeatedly expressed how he values the more experienced players and how they can help the team.
In Giroud’s cases, he spoke to Lampard in January and was promised chance which has now been fulfilled. Tammy’s injury also played a part, of course.
It was never easy to keep everyone in the squad happy for the Chelsea manager. But in his just second season as a manager, Lampard displayed his man-management skill which will be needed even more once Chelsea start spending in transfer windows.