Frank Lampard is furious at Chelsea’s schedule for the coming week as they must play twice in the space of 48 hours.
The Blues visit Arsenal at 1730 GMT on Boxing Day before kicking off at the same time at home to Aston Villa two days later.
Lampard is particularly frustrated at the prospect as Chelsea’s subsequent match against Manchester City has been pushed back, providing a six-day gap, but pleas to rearrange the Villa game have fallen on deaf ears.
“It’s 48 hours,” Lampard told reporters when the two matches in three days were posed to him. “I’m not trying to be clever there, but it’s an important point for us because there are other teams challenging at the top of the league that have two games in three days [72 hours].
“Manchester United, Tottenham, I think Liverpool play two games in three days.
“It’s counter-productive for the quality of the Premier League. It’s a risk to play both games in top-end, elite sport, everybody knows that.”
Asked if he would be able to name his best XI against both Arsenal and Villa, Lampard replied: “I don’t think so.
“I think that’s pretty much impossible. I couldn’t say what I’ve just said and then put out the same team.”
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) December 23, 2020
The Blues coach is surprised there was no change to the schedule as he believes it would be in the Premier League’s best interests to have the Villa fixture on December 29.
“I’m surprised,” Lampard said. “We hear a lot about how we’ll have conversations and we’ll talk, but not much action gets done at the critical time.
“Again, I have sympathy for the scheduling, I have sympathy for the difficult times, I have sympathy that if can we work together we try to find the best solution and sometimes there isn’t one.
“Everyone loves football and everyone wants the season to be finished and everyone wants the Champions League to continue and international football to continue.
“But when you’re given two teams asking for a game to be played one day later to try to get their best players on the pitch as fit as they can, why would you not do that? That surprises me.”
First, Chelsea must tackle Arsenal, the side who beat them in the FA Cup final but have since failed to mount a challenge at the top of the Premier League and instead slumped to 15th place.
Lampard said: “I saw a very strong team and I think they added very well in the window.
“It’s so early in the season. I know Arsenal’s position, but I’ll let them speak about their position; even ourselves, if we’re going to fight for a title, that is on us and the games ahead. There are a lot of games to go.
“I think they’re a quality team and I know a lot of people had them in the [title] argument at the start of the season.
“I heard that and maybe we were in the argument, maybe not firm favourites and Arsenal were in the same batch as us because of the way they finished last season.
“In the recent period, it hasn’t worked for them in terms of results. Some of the performances have been better than results, for sure.
“The important thing for us is not to get caught up in any of that talk, because I can feel it coming with this game because of Arsenal’s recent results.
“We must go there with a determination to win, a respect for Arsenal but a determination to win.”
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