Ravenous Lampard hopes goal rush is just round corner

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The Independent Football

As if the prospect of facing three strikers were not daunting enough, there is more bad news for Wales this afternoon. Frank Lampard, the Premiership's most consistent goalscoring midfielder, thinks he is due a goal or two.

With 22 goals in 121 Premiership appearances for Chelsea, Lampard has a strike rate not far behind some of the best strikers in the land. Darius Vassell, his England colleague, has scored 35 goals in 149 games for Aston Villa. Wayne Rooney has scored 15 goals in his 68 Premiership appearances. Lampard's record for England is not bad either, with six goals in 26 appearances.

Yet by his own standards, Lampard is having a quiet season, with just one penalty to show for his 10 appearances in all competitions for Chelsea. He recognises that goalscoring has been a problem for the whole Chelsea team, who have been accumulating Premiership points without terrorising defences. Plenty of chances were created at home to Liverpool last Sunday, but the 1-0 victory left Jose Mourinho's team with only eight goals to show from their eight Premiership matches.

"We're not taking them as well as we could do and I was as much to blame as anyone on Sunday, but you do get days or periods like that," Lampard said. "The important thing is to keep winning games in those periods and when they do start to go in, so much the better.

"Of late, I've been getting into positions more than I was at the start of the season. I think that's always a good sign for me. I've had games where I've missed good chances and then in the following few weeks I'll tend to get two or three goals.

"To be fair to my managers at Chelsea and England, neither of them have tried to hold me back. If anything, Claudio Ranieri did that more last season at times, though I still managed to get forward and score 15 goals. They do like me to get forward."

Lampard acknowledges that under Mourinho Chelsea have taken a more studied approach, but he rejects any suggestion that the team are more negative. "I think it's modern football," he said.

"That's the way it is these days. There's so much skill, pace and creativity in the game that you have to have a solid base. You have to be sensible, though obviously you don't want to take away your creative side. People say that at Chelsea we're trying to kill teams off and be boring, but we're not trying to do that. We're trying to play attractive football but make sure we're strong and don't concede goals."

Similar criticisms have been levelled at England, but with Sven Goran Eriksson pondering a line-up that would include Rooney, Michael Owen and Jermain Defoe, Lampard thinks the Welsh defence could be in for a torrid time.

"If we did go with that line-up we'd have three very exciting players and we'd be a big threat for any team - especially those three with their youthfulness, their ability and their pace," he said.

"When you're playing with three players like that, defenders will be worried, especially with their movement. If they do play together, they're very aware of each other. There's no fear in them. They just want to go out there and create goals and score goals."

Rooney would be the key to the formation. "I think he could play off one or two strikers," Lampard said. "He has a natural ability to receive the ball, turn in an instant, and then play clever balls through to people or go himself. Whether you play one up front, with Wayne playing off him, or with two men, he can play that role and he can be very dangerous coming from that position."

In such a line-up Lampard would almost certainly fill the gap left by the absence of the injured Wayne Bridge on the left of the midfield. "The last five or six games I've been playing left-sided for Chelsea. I've had Damien Duff outside me in the last few games, which obviously helps. It stops you chasing full-backs down. I'm used to playing in that sort of role, so whatever I play I'll try to play as I have done for Chelsea, trying to link play, get in the box and do a bit of everything."

Lampard also believes there is a danger in putting too much emphasis on formations and tactics. "In a game as big as this it's more about how you play, your passion, your work rate and your actual performance," he said.

"We've got to believe in ourselves that in the match-ups all over the park we can come out on top on the day. People talk about match-ups between [Ryan] Giggs and Gary Neville, or [Craig] Bellamy and Ashley Cole or whoever might play on the right, but it's up to players to win their personal battles all over the park. If we don't, it's going to be a harder game for us.

"We've spoken about the extra passion and the extra pace. We're ready for that. It will have an FA Cup-like atmosphere. The important thing is that we match them for attitude, for passion, for work rate, for tackles, especially in the early stages of the game. If we can take that through from the early stages then hopefully we can go on to control the game. But they won't make it very easy for us."

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