Reece James and Kurt Zouma were absent from Chelsea’s matchday squad for their 1-1 draw with Aston Villa on Monday. Frank Lampard made as six changes to his side with over half of the team that tasted defeat to Arsenal last Saturday missing out. One of those changes, Olivier Giroud, who replaced Tammy Abraham in the starting XI, scored Chelsea’s opening goal.
But it was a defensive mix-up which allowed Anwar El Ghazi to ghost in at the far post unmarked and score a second-half equaliser which cost the Blues all three points.
Speaking in his post-match press conference, Lampard confirmed that James wasn’t in the 18-man squad as he has picked up a hamstring problem, but admitted the right-back probably would’ve been replaced by Cesar Azpilicueta anyway. The English boss added that Zouma missed out completely in order to give him a rest, while 36-year-old Thiago Silva was benched for the same reason
‘Reece James has got a small hamstring issue, not saying that’s why Azpi played, I probably would’ve played him anyway,’ Lampard said. ‘Thiago Silva I think at his age I had to consider the games. Kurt Zouma’s played a lot of games himself. ‘Oli and Tammy to play a game each made sense to me because they both give a similar output, they’re both playing well. ‘The changes were to try and keep a better balance in the team but to try and freshen it up and off the back of not a great performance against Arsenal that kind of made my decision more as well. ‘I’m not displeased with anything tonight other than we conceded that goal and we didn’t score another goal which would’ve given us some comfort. But I was pleased with the players that came in. I was pleased with the attitude.’
Lampard also conceded that Hakim Ziyech could return from a hamstring injury to be involved in Sunday’s clash against Manchester City, should the game go ahead. The match at Stamford Bridge hangs in the balance after an outbreak of coronavirus at City which caused their own clash against Everton on Monday to be postponed. ‘There’s a possibility he could be fit for Manchester City if it goes ahead on Sunday,’ Lampard added. ‘He’s certainly progressing to the point where he’s very close to fitness.’