Frank Lampard admits that Chelsea is in dire need of a Van Dijk-like figure to improve at set-pieces.
He noted that when Liverpool signed defender Virgil van Dijk, there was a direct rise in improvement in set-plays. That, in turn, reflected on Chelsea’s most underrated weakness – dead ball situations.
“We’ve looked at set-plays this season. When we came into the club, we looked at the stats from last season and we were bottom of the league in defending set-plays, in terms of other teams getting big chances against us, we were second-bottom in attacking,” said Lampard before Saturday’s PL fixture with Watford.
“If you look at personnel, and I don’t like to talk about my playing days, but we didn’t really work so much on set-pieces at all really – with certain managers more than others. There were probably a few reasons why and they were mainly John Terry, Gary Cahill, Didier Drogba, Michael Ballack and [Branislav] Ivanovic, so you stick it in an area and they defend it or they score goals.
“I think similarly with Liverpool, there was a lot of talk about them with set-pieces two or three seasons ago, they were zonal, they were conceding a lot.
“They signed Virgil van Dijk and he heads everything that comes in the box out, so there’s a huge relation to personnel and if you don’t have that in terms of big size across the team, I think trying to compete as hard as you can, making it difficult for other teams to score is the main thing.
Lampard realised that Chelsea also might need to look for someone like Virgil van Dijk.
“And there’s no doubt – I’m not making excuses when I say that because we’ve not done this well enough on the pitch, and that has to improve – when you look at who you might bring in, with the balance of the squad, in the modern day its certainly something to take into account when looking at recruitment.”