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Frank Lampard has moved to end his ‘spygate’ feud with Marcelo Bielsa ahead of Chelsea’s Premier League clash with Leeds at Stamford Bridge.
Lampard spirit Bielsa They will meet for the first time since the 2019 Championship play-offs, when Lampard’s Derby rallied and beat Leeds 4-3 at the end of a turbulent campaign.
Bielsa sent an intern to spy on Lampard’s Derby in training in January 2019, with the Argentine later paying a £ 200,000 EFL fine.
Lampard insisted that he would rather resign than emulate Bielsa’s subterfuge, and the Leeds boss eventually accepted that such practices are not acceptable in the English game.
However, Bielsa stirred the pot by delivering an hour-long PowerPoint presentation press conference, detailing how to analyze opponents in as much depth as he did with Derby.
With no small grudge between the two coaches in their Championship exchanges, many had anticipated a chill between the pair, but Lampard has teamed up with Bielsa to try to quell any conversation about a lingering feud.
“It’s in the past, I’m certainly not going to dwell on that before this game,” Lampard said.
“I prefer to insist on the respect I have for him as a coach. It was great news, it had a lot to do with it and now it’s gone.
“And again I just look at him and how well he did, he brought him to Leeds the following year.
“They were probably the strongest team in the championship the year we played them in Derby, so it was a very proud moment for me to face him and win that game.
“But it’s a game that’s long gone, and now they are a team in great shape.
“So now I see the football side. I am not at all concerned with the lessons I may or may not have learned. Honestly, I’m definitely not going to hold onto him for this game.
“He’s long gone. I respect him, I respect Leeds. I just worry that tomorrow we have reason for the game. “
Olivier Giroud’s impressive four-goal streak in Wednesday’s 4-0 Champions League game in Seville increases the pressure on Lampard to start the French forward for the first time this season in the Premier League in Saturday’s clash with Leeds.
Giroud knows he must push as much football as possible before next summer’s European Championship to consolidate his position in France.
No guarantees for Giroud
Lampard has backed Giroud to stay in regular action at Chelsea, but admitted that he cannot guarantee match time for anyone on his talented squad.
“I don’t think it’s a case of giving any player guarantees about playing time,” Lampard said.
“I think that with the competitive team that we have it is very difficult to do.
“All you want is for the players to train well when they are off the team, join the team and perform like Oli did the other day.
“And of course that gives me good problems as such. Oli has always done that for me here, I think particularly on the back end of last season he played as regularly as he played for Chelsea in my time at the club, particularly on the restart.
“It was essential for us to get the Champions League places.
“So I am happy with him, he gives me a very nice problem, his form is good, he is training well. Obviously, today I’m not going to give up my team’s selection ”.
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Competition for places
Asked if Giroud is happy with his situation, Lampard continued: “I can’t answer that for Oli, I can’t.
“All I can say from my point of view, in that front zone I have competition for places.
“Tammy Abraham has been playing very well for us this season, scoring goals and providing assists.
“He brings attributes, Olivier as he showed the other night brings his attributes, so that’s a great competition for me.
“I cannot give guarantees and you would have to ask Oli. I never see anything negative from Oli, and I have great respect for him.
“And playing like he did the other night, he’s clearly going to have chances, because it was a top performance in every respect.”