Playing in empty stadiums has helped Frank Lampard spot major Chelsea weakness

Chelsea remain on course for a top four finish despite last weekend's defeat at Sheffield United

Chelsea remain on course for a top four finish despite last weekend’s defeat at Sheffield United (Picture: Getty)

Frank Lampard has revealed that playing behind closed doors has helped him to identify a major weakness in his Chelsea squad.

The Blues remain in pole position to secure Champions League qualification despite last weekend’s demoralising 3-0 defeat against Sheffield United at Bramall Lane.

Lampard’s side exhibited some familiar defensive frailties against the Blades and the Chelsea manager was furious with his players in the immediate aftermath of what was a potentially damaging loss.

Leicester’s subsequent defeat at Bournemouth, coupled with Manchester United’s 2-2 draw against Southampton on Monday, has softened the blow but Lampard admits it is time some of his more reserved players come out of their shells.

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The former Chelsea captain was part of a dressing room that contained natural leaders in the shape of John Terry, Michael Ballack and Gary Cahill.

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And in Lampard’s eyes, playing behind closed doors as a result of the coronavirus pandemic has only exacerbated the need to bolster his team with more dominant and forceful personalities.

He said: ‘It’s something I picked up before, something I talk about with the players and one of the easiest things to do on the pitch, to help your team-mates, to help the group by being vocal, driving people on, being vocal and talking.

‘We don’t have enough of it, for sure. We have to get better at that and it’s something I drill into the players, particularly now where you can hear it because the stadiums feel different, it’s something we need to be better at and I expect it from the players.

Chelsea's defence put in a shambolic display at Bramall Lane last weekend

Chelsea’s defence put in a shambolic display at Bramall Lane last weekend (Picture: Getty)

‘I remember being taught as a young boy, about communicating with your team-mates, wanting the ball, demanding the ball, demanding from others, supporting others.

‘The main thing is that you can be as quiet as you want off the pitch, we have some quiet players here who keep themselves to themselves, but they must come out of that on the pitch, they must demand the ball, otherwise the game can pass you by. They must have character and spirit to talk to people around them and we have to improve on that.

‘I keep telling them, the staff keep telling them and, hopefully, that message will hit home. But sometimes it’s not that easy when players are generally quiet and it’s something that we need to look at generally, keep improving on.’

On Chelsea’s overall defensive record, Lampard, speaking ahead of Tuesday’s match against Norwich, added: ‘There is a way that I want us to play and it’s not gung-ho, it’s not crazy, a lot of the goals (we concede) are the balls that come into our box that maybe we don’t defend right at that moment.

‘That’s something that has to improve and I feel I know the answers to it. Some of it is work and that’s something we will see and it’s part of the process we are in. I don’t like it, I hate conceding goals but we have to work harder on it.

‘I don’t want players to think they will be out of the team if they make one mistake, so there is a balance to that. But clearly we haven’t found that partnership in that area that I’ve settled on and that’s something we’re striving for.’

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