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It’s My Job To Give Kepa Confidence, Says Lampard

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Kepa Arrizabalaga has “held his hands up” after making a calamitous error in Chelsea’s defeat to Liverpool, but Frank Lampard insists it is his responsibility to give the goalkeeper confidence.

Sadio Mane scored twice as Premier League champions Liverpool made it two wins from two with a 2-0 triumph at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

Kepa – whose days as Chelsea’s first-choice appear to be numbered given the club are reportedly close to signing Edouard Mendy from Rennes – was at fault for Mane’s second, passing the ball straight to Liverpool’s forward, who drilled home from close range.

Though Lampard stated Kepa must take responsibility for the mistake, he claimed he is the person who needs to instil some belief in the former Athletic Bilbao shot-stopper, who was signed as the world’s most expensive goalkeeper in 2018.

“My job as a manager is to try to give Kepa confidence because a goalkeeper absolutely relies on confidence,” Lampard told Sky Sports.

“It’s a clear mistake – Kepa has accepted that, as he should, and held his hands up. We, as a group, have to accept that joint responsibility, these things do happen. It’s obviously a clear mistake.

“How do you gauge confidence? I don’t know. There are lots of things in football, one is confidence, another is work, the other is circumstances. It was just a clear mistake today.”

All of Chelsea’s players had average positions within their own half, and they managed just three attempts on target, including a failed penalty by Jorginho.

However, Lampard believes his side – who had Andreas Christensen sent off late in the first half – can take confidence from aspects of their performance.

“I’m disappointed to lose three points, as you should be, but I’m actually happier with today, in many ways, than I was with Brighton [Monday’s 3-1 win],” he added.

“Brighton was three points and an okay performance, we’re in pre-season still as we’ve not had long enough to train. Today I saw spirit, saw a desire to defend by a lot of our players.

“You play half a game with 10 men, you don’t make that mistake for the second goal, you score the penalty and it’s 1-1. I know that’s not football, I know I can’t reflect on that, but those are the realities. The players should take heart – it’s how we move forward from now.”

Christensen was sent off after referee Paul Tierney consulted the pitchside monitor following a VAR check, with the defender having hauled down Mane as the last man, though Lampard was not certain it should have been a red.

“Not definitely,” he said. “They can get given or not. Once yellow is the first decision, you feel it needs to be absolutely critical to be red.

“I’m not sure it was. I’m not going to sit here and complain too much, it’s one that I felt could be given, or not. ”

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Arsenal Hopeful Of Martinelli Injury Boost With Gabriel And Partey Set To Return

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The Gunners teenager injured his ankle before Saturday’s FA Cup clash with Newcastle 

Gabriel Martinelli will have a scan on Monday, with Arsenal hopeful the Brazilian attacker’s ankle injury is not as bad as first feared.

Martinelli was injured during the warm-up on Saturday night as Arsenal prepared to take on Newcastle in the FA Cup third round and was replaced in the starting XI by Reiss Nelson.

He watched the second half from the stands while wearing a protective boot and Arteta admitted after the game that the initial signs did ‘not look good’ for the 19-year-old.

But, having seen Martinelli at the training ground on Sunday, Arteta is now in a slightly more positive mood and is hopeful the scan results will show the forward does not have to spend too long on the sidelines.

“We don’t know how bad it is, he’s getting a scan this morning,” Arteta said on Monday. “He didn’t look good after the game because he was in a lot of pain, but yesterday he tested a little bit better.

“So let’s hope he has the scan and it’s not as serious and we can have Gabi back really soon. But we will know more on Tuesday.”

Arsenal take on Crystal Palace in the Premier league on Thursday night looking to make it five successive wins in all competitions.

The Gunners could have their two main summer signings available for the clash, with centre-back Gabriel Magalhaes and midfielder Thomas Partey both expected to return following lay-offs.

Gabriel has missed the last four games having tested positive for coronavirus, while Partey hasn’t played since limping off with a thigh injury during the north London derby defeat at Spurs on December 6.

But Arteta is hopeful both could make their returns against Palace later in the week.

“Gabriel had a training session the other day,” said the Arsenal boss. “He tested positive, he had very mild symptoms, so he’s missed a few weeks of training because he had to be isolated.

“He’s better now, we expect him to be training with us the next couple of days and we’ll make an assessment whether we can have him or not on Thursday.

“Thomas has been in full training for the last four or five days. He’s completely asymptomatic. He was a little bit rushed to try to play him against Newcastle, but I think he will be ready for Thursday.”

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Inter Milan Must Sweat To Show We Are Contenders, Says Conte

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Inter Milan head coach, Antonio Conte, warned against complacency and urged his players to show they are credible Serie A title contenders ahead of Sunday’s home clash with relegation battlers Crotone.

Conte’s team, who finished as runners-up last season, cut the gap to league leaders AC Milan to just one point before the 10-day winter break, thanks to a run of seven straight league wins.

That form has put Inter firmly in the mix to end their 11-year wait for a league title, with defending champions Juventus languishing nine points behind them in sixth.

“We must confirm our place among the contenders,” Conte told a news conference.

“We don’t have to send any message, just be credible. We have the duty to fight until the end. When you’re at Inter, this is an obligation.

“It’s a balanced championship. You need to sweat to win every match and there are no easy games.

“In the end important values like hard work and organisation will stand out, things that make you excel and win.”

Inter are favourites to come out on top against Crotone, who are in 19th place having won just twice since being promoted from Serie B.

However, one of those victories came in Crotone’s last match before the break and Conte insisted he will not be underestimating the threat of the visitors.

“We’re expecting a demanding match, as I think they all are in Serie A,” he said.

“We’re facing a team that has been galvanised by finishing last year with a win against Parma.

“This match will require a lot of focus. Starting again after the holidays is always a great unknown, but we know the importance of continuing our positive streak.”

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Pirlo Warns Juventus Players Never To Repeat Fiorentina Display

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Juventus coach, Andrea Pirlo, has warned his players not to repeat the poor performance they produced during their shock 3-0 defeat against struggling Fiorentina in their last match before Serie A headed into its Christmas break.

The Italian champions, who face Udinese on Sunday, slumped to their first league defeat of the season against Fiorentina.

The result left Pirlo’s side 10 points adrift of league leaders AC Milan, albeit with a game in hand, putting their nine-year stranglehold of the Italian title at risk.

“We talked about the game against Fiorentina, we got it completely wrong,” the 41-year-old, who is in his first season as a manager, said.

“It was a good meeting and we discussed our future objectives. It was productive.

“I don’t want to see any more matches like the one with Fiorentina.

“We’ve otherwise made some progress and improved in many aspects, but I’m convinced it can be even better.”

Udinese also headed into the winter break following a 2-0 defeat to Benevento but Luca Gotti’s side were unbeaten in six league matches before then.

Hence Pirlo is not taking the challenge lightly.

“I’m expecting a difficult match, Udinese are on a good run of form and are a very well organised and physical team with players who are very good on the counter attack,” he said.

“The team is eager to redeem itself after the last defeat. We’ve got almost all our players back, so we’re setting out to restart the league season strongly.”

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