An emphatic first home win as head coach secured progress for Lampard who was able to rotate his squad and be rewarded with goals from four of his senior stars. He also handed out three debuts and two more senior bows to the latest prospects to roll off the Chelsea academy conveyor belt. They ended the night with six on the pitch.
Of the starlets on show debutant Reece James grabbed a goal and set up two more, Callum Hudson-Odoi marked his return from injury by scoring, Billy Gilmour ran the game in midfield and England Under 17 World Cup-winning captain Marc Guehi was a composed presence at the heart of Chelsea’s defence.
Then Lampard discovered Chelsea’s reward was a home tie against Manchester United. ‘Pfff,’ Lampard smiled, caught a little off-guard when the news, still not the most welcome despite United’s struggles, was delivered during his press conference. ‘I was just watching the penalties. A big draw. Two big teams. I’m pleased we’re at home. We’ll see. There’s no more comment really.’ Lampard can worry about that later.
This game was pleasing on many levels, not least for the club’s academy. Lampard said: ‘It gives good recognition to the academy for the work they’ve put in over the years. It says that we’ve got good young players.’
But there was a lesson for them too from perfectionist Lampard. Chelsea raced into a 2-0 lead inside seven minutes after Ross Barkley and Michy Batshuayi, from James’s first assist of the night, struck only for Chelsea to be pegged back when Matt Green volleyed in James Hanson’s flick-on to give Grimsby a stunning consolation.
Lampard said: ‘I wasn’t very happy at half-time with the game. At 2-1 to concede the goal we did against Grimsby was a disaster because I showed them they were a huge threat with the long ball and the second ball in behind, and that made us a bit nervous.
‘It’s good for the young players particularly to see that small details if you don’t watch the video before the game and realise the danger it was fine tonight because we win 7-1 but against Liverpool we lost the game.’
Pedro restored Chelsea’s two-goal lead with a penalty just before half-time, despite Barkley being on the pitch.
Barkley missed in the Champions League against Valencia last week and was defended by Lampard who insisted he was the designated penalty taker.
Lampard said: ‘The good thing about my job is that I can choose things and I chose Pedro to be captain and take the penalty tonight. He took it and he scored.’ Batshuayi, who headed wide in the first half, went close to his second once again after the break with a snapshot that flew just wide. Hudson-Odoi and Alonso went close too.