Chelsea boss Lampard refuses to answer Aubameyang question

In pictures: Arsenal v Chelsea

Chelsea boss Frank Lampard refused to “comment on individuals” when asked a question about Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s dire return to Arsenal on Tuesday night. Aubameyang was a surprise starter, returning to the starting line-up for the first time since the World Cup, but was withdrawn at half-time.

The ex-Gunners captain had just nine touches in the first 45 minutes and four of those were from kick-offs. And the Gabon international was replaced by Kai Havertz after his Emirates no-show as the Blues went on to lose 3-1 in north London because of a first-half brace from Martin Odegaard and Gabriel Jesus’ goal.

But the interim Chelsea manager refused to talk about the display of Aubameyang, who also struggled for minutes under Graham Potter before he was sacked. Asked if his performance showed a player who hasn’t played enough this term, Lampard told Sky Sports post-match: “I’m not going to comment on individuals in the game. I’ll talk about a collective and it’s the performance.

“I understand what you said that Chelsea fans will talk about the players not caring. I don’t believe that. They’re lads that want to do well for this club. But they have to understand what that means and what that entails every day, from training every day for a game, how you prepare, how you maintain yourself.

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“Those standards are clear. It’s a collective. If I’m going to talk about an individual, I’ll maybe talk about Noni who scores the goal and who came in and played like he’s been training. That’s a good example. He’ll get more opportunities.”

This was Aubameyang’s first start since November 6th, which also came against Arsenal at Stamford Bridge. Gabriel Magalhaes scored the only goal of that match on another night when Aubameyang was taken off early, that time after 64 minutes due to another anonymous display.

The 33-year-old’s time at Chelsea has been an unmitigated disaster even though he joined for less than £10million. He has racked up a mere 960 minutes – the equivalent of 10-and-a-half full matches – across 21 appearances, returning only three goals and one assist. He was also left out of the Champions League squad entirely by Potter for the knockout rounds.

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta had urged pre-match for supporters to thank their former centre-forward as well as to “pay respect” and show “gratitude for what he was”, which he added was “an incredible player” for the north London club. The announcement of his half-time substitution was greeted with huge cheers at the start of the second half.


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