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FA Cup: Lampard speaks after Chelsea’s loss

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Frank Lampard

Frank Lampard accused his Chelsea flops of complacency after they blew the lead in Saturday’s FA Cup final defeat against Arsenal.

Lampard’s side made the perfect start at Wembley as Christian Pulisic fired them ahead.

But Arsenal captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang equalized from the penalty spot before half-time and made it 2-1 with a fine finish after the interval.

“We started well for 10 or 15 minutes, scored a goal, and had other chances. From that point, we can only blame ourselves in football terms,” Chelsea boss Lampard told the BBC.

“We decided to take control as in being complacent, let’s try and play short passes like it is a bit of a stroll. A final can never be a stroll and we allowed them back into the game.”

Lampard had tried to get his players to refocus, but he conceded Chelsea have been hampered by a lack of cutting edge and defensive mistakes all season.

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They weren’t helped by the extremely harsh second-half dismissal of midfielder Mateo Kovacic and injuries to Pulisic and Cesar Azpilicueta.

Denied his first trophy as Chelsea boss, Lampard couldn’t hide his frustration.

“All I can do form the sidelines is shout. There are elements in our game that we have worked hard on all year, but that is in you as a group,” he said.

“We were slow, we played back on ourselves, invited pressure then didn’t really know where to go from that. We didn’t play well enough to win a final.

“It doesn’t help to have two hamstrings (Azpilicueta and Pulisic) and a dislocated shoulder (Pedro), then Willian got injured yesterday and had to pull out.”

Despite their Cup final misery, Chelsea had already achieved their main aim by qualifying for next season’s Champions League via a fourth-place finish in the Premier League.

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Lampard’s season isn’t over as Chelsea travel to Bayern Munich on August 8 for the second leg of their Champions League last 16 tie.

But the Blues trail 3-0 from the first leg and Lampard did not want to think about that daunting task just yet.

“I’m not even thinking about next week. It’s the end of a long, long season and it was the tipping point for us,” he said.

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Man City must be at best to win – Silva

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David Silva

Manchester City will need to be at their best level to win the games and try to reach the final, midfielder Bernardo Silva has said.

Silva said Manchester City’s task in the Champions League has not been made any easier by the exits of Real Madrid and Liverpool as every team is capable of winning.

Pep Guardiola’s City eliminated Real in the last 16 while defending champions Liverpool were knocked out by Atletico Madrid.

“The fact that Liverpool are out, Real Madrid are out: it’s not going to make our path easier.

“All the teams in Lisbon are here because they deserve it. We need to be at our best level to win the games and try to reach the final.”

City are firm favourites heading into Saturday’s quarter-final against Olympique Lyonnais but Silva said they would not get complacent.

“Anything can happen, Juventus were knocked out by Lyon, we lost against Tottenham Hotspur last year in the quarter-finals,” Silva told the City website.

“We have seen lots of surprises. It’s very difficult to predict the results in this competition,” he said.

Silva, who was born in Lisbon and began his career at Benfica, said the prospect of lifting the trophy on home soil gave him extra motivation.

“Winning this competition has always been a target for the players and the club. It will be very special to win it. For me, even more so because it’s my city,” he added.

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I love Arsenal, I’ll decide when I go not others – Ozil

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Mezut ozil

Mesut Ozil insists he is the only person who will decide when he leaves Arsenal after the German star was frozen out by Gunners boss Mikel Arteta.

Ozil has not played for Arsenal since the coronavirus hiatus amid reports the club are keen to get his huge salary off the wage bill.

The 31-year-old earns a reported £350,000-per-week ($458,000) but has rarely provided good value since his 2013 move from Real Madrid.

Ozil was absent as Arsenal beat Chelsea in the FA Cup final on August 1, but he will not allow the club to force him out before his contract expires in June 2021.

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Holding out hope of winning back his place next season, Ozil told the Athletic:

“Things have been difficult but I love Arsenal. I’ll decide when I go, not other people.

“I’ll give everything I have for this club. Situations like these will never break me, they only make me stronger.

“I showed in the past that I can come back into the team and I will show it again.”

Ozil fell out of favour with Arteta’s predecessor Unai Emery but started all 10 of Arsenal’s Premier League games after the former Gunners midfielder took charge in December.

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However, he has not featured in their past 13 matches in all competitions, with Arteta saying his exile was down to “football reasons”.

Ozil believes he deserves another chance and he said:

“You don’t play 10 games in a row if you’re unfit, not good enough or don’t behave well.”

Arteta and many Arsenal players accepted a 12.5 per cent pay cut in April as a result of the financial fall-out from the coronavirus.

But Ozil did not vote for the cut and he is concerned that “possibly the decision affected my chances on the pitch.

“As players, we all wanted to contribute. But we needed more information and many questions were unanswered.”

Ozil fears there is now an agenda against him that will make the rest of his time at Arsenal uncomfortable.

“I guess that’s because it is me and people have been trying for two years to destroy me, to make me unhappy, to push an agenda they hope will turn the supporters against me and pain a picture that is not true,” he said.

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Mikel Obi eyes return to England

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Mikel Obi

Former Super Eagles’ captain John Mikel Obi has left the door open to a return to English football.

The 33-year-old, who won the Champions League with Chelsea in 2012, is currently without a club having left Turkish side Trabzonspor by mutual consent in March.

“Yes, there are interested clubs and England is a strong possibility and why not,” Mikel told BBC Sport Africa. “We are currently in talks with clubs and there is absolutely no hurry. I can only wait to see what happens.”

He refused to confirm or deny media reports in England linking him with newly-promoted West Bromwich Albion and Championship side Stoke City.

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Mikel, who captained his country to a third-place finish at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt, has previously played in Norway and China, but achieved success in England with Chelsea.

The midfielder made 249 Premier League appearances for Chelsea in an 11-year spell, which ended when he left Stamford Bridge in 2017.

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He also won two league titles, three FA Cups and the Europa League in 2013.

Before a stint with Chinese side, Tianjin TEDA and brief spell at Middlesbrough followed in the Championship during the 2018/19 campaign, featuring 19 times, scoring once.

Mikel won a total of 89 caps for Nigeria, playing for them in the past two World Cups and helping the Super Eagles win the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations, before announcing his retirement from international football last summer. He was also one of Nigeria’s three over-age players as the African side won a bronze medal at the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

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