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Frank Lampard frustrated by ‘inconsistent’ scheduling rules

Everton v Chelsea – Premier League – Goodison Park
(Image credit: Peter Powell)

Frank Lampard has hit out at Premier League inconsistency in fixture scheduling, lamenting “nobody came to help us” when Chelsea played two games in 48 hours at Christmas.

Lampard accepts coronavirus outbreaks pile on the pressure for league bosses to maintain consistency – but also believes that will leave “a mark” on the season.

Chelsea’s trip to Fulham has been put back from Friday to Saturday after the Premier League squeezed in the Cottagers’ postponed clash with Tottenham on Wednesday night.

Frank Lampard File Photo

Frank Lampard has been left frustrated by Chelsea’s fixture alterations (Richard Heathcote/PA)

Chelsea’s 1-1 draw with Aston Villa at Stamford Bridge on December 28 came just 48 hours after their 3-1 loss at Arsenal and Lampard has been left frustrated by what he considers the shifting sands.

The Blues travel to Leicester on Tuesday night, with Lampard unhappy to lose a day’s preparation for that fixture.

“The Fulham game changing from Friday to Saturday at the front end didn’t make a difference to us too much,” said Lampard.

“We had a week to prepare for it and I understand why Scott (Parker) would have had his feelings about it. I think it probably suited them to get that game done.

“My feeling is that our time between Fulham and Leicester is even tighter and my biggest gripe as manager of Chelsea Football Club is that nobody came to help us when we played two games on the 26th and the 28th over Christmas, when it clearly could have been moved.

“So the schedule couldn’t be moved over Christmas but it can be moved now because we are fighting against Covid.

“That was a big point of the managers’ meetings that we had earlier in the season, when Jurgen Klopp spoke a lot about it and myself, and Pep Guardiola, and a lot of managers.

“This is not a normal season. It’s very clear this is not a normal season. We’re all here to play ball and find the best way through this, and we understand that the isolations and training grounds shutting means you can’t play so we want to move forward.

“But all of a sudden these new rules have come in and at the last minute for Scott this week, but over Christmas it was fine and we had to play twice in two days when Man United, Liverpool and Tottenham played twice over three days.

“So now it seems like consistency is going to be difficult and it will definitely put a mark on this season.

“Whatever happens, there are going to continue to be huge difficulties for different teams.

“I don’t want to cry too much from our point of view but from our experience over Christmas to what is happening this week, I felt that at Christmas the Premier League could have done better to look after us and Aston Villa by moving the game, and they didn’t.”

Tottenham Hotspur v Fulham – Premier League – Tottenham Hotspur Stadium

Scott Parker has steered Fulham to five successive Premier League draws (Glyn Kirk/PA)

Lampard revealed Chelsea had no say in the delay to the Fulham game.

“We weren’t actually flexible, we were just told what the games would be so that wasn’t our flexibility,” said Lampard.

“My preference would have been to keep the game on a Friday but that was overruled and with Covid and the situation, I’m very happy to play fair with that; I understand it.

“It hasn’t killed us this weekend, the schedule hasn’t made us play two games in two days so I’m fine with that and we all have to try to and understand the situation.

“But, again, we weren’t looked after at Christmas when we could have been and, for me, that seems to me that the Premier League has to open the dialogue and discussion much more.

“It can’t be that you’re just told. It must be an open conversation and I understand Scott’s point, being told two days before having to play in the Premier League. That, for me, really isn’t good enough. But it’s done.”

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