Frank Lampard’s explanation was thorough but it is hard to imagine Michy Batshuayi, left sitting on the bench, or Olivier Giroud, at home, not questioning their standing in Chelsea’s squad right now.
In an even, back and forth encounter away to Leicester City the head coach’s final substitution with seven minutes plus added time remaining saw Tammy Abraham, who required painkillers to get through the game because of an ankle injury, taken off for Ross Barkley.
With no recognised striker on the pitch Willian, who was brought on a bit earlier, ended up in the middle of the front three and it was pretty easy to read deeply into the wider context behind such a change.
Lampard said it was merely what he felt was tactically the best approach at the time, relating to their pressing patterns higher up the pitch.
“Not really to shore it up but we have spent a lot of time this week on how we press without the ball and I thought Ross has been playing pretty well recently,” he said.
“It was just a case of bringing him on. He and Willian in those positions maybe get a bit more ball because at that point it hadn’t really stuck for us much up there. Just a choice.”
It was a choice which still indicated a lack of faith in Batshuayi though. Is the Belgian not capable of pressing for a short spell of time with the same intensity?
Giroud, on the other hand, was presumably watching it all unfold from at home. He trained well throughout January despite the uncertainty around his future and a clear desire to find playing time elsewhere.
On Friday Lampard said that the 33-year-old’s professionalism has been “impeccable” but then admitted after yesterday’s game that it is probably best they spend a little time apart and approach things with a clean slate after the winter break.
“He has had a few days where a lot of scrutiny has been on him and around him,” Lampard said. “We will all go away for a week away from each other, it’s probably what’s needed for everyone and we…