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FA Cup glory could propel Chelsea into successful new era as Frank Lampard project takes shape

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Another Wembley date looms for Chelsea. Their FA Cup semi-final will be their 27th visit to the national stadium since it was rebuilt — and potentially their most significant for some time.

If Frank Lampard can lift his first trophy as a manager at the end of this season, it would be the ideal launchpad for his greater ambition of making Chelsea a title force again.

Lampard won everything as a player at Stamford Bridge and learned under Jose Mourinho how the first piece of silverware creates a winning culture.

When Chelsea won the League Cup in 2005, it was the start of a glut of trophies — and Lampard knows this season’s FA Cup provides a similar opportunity for his young side.

Semi-final opponents Manchester United will have something to say about that, of course, but Lampard is growing in belief that his first season in charge at Stamford Bridge can end in glory. He is on course to deliver Champions League qualification after last week's win over Manchester City and a trophy on top of that would represent a hugely successful campaign.

Leverkusen boss: Havertz not thinking about Chelsea talk Werner defends decision to join Chelsea and miss Leipzig finale Lampard says 'lethargic' Chelsea first-half display worst of his reign

Sunday’s victory against Leicester has only added to the feeling that his project is beginning to take shape.

Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech, signed for a combined £85million, officially join Chelsea on Wednesday and it is now three successive wins for the Blues since the restart.

Chelsea were poor in the first half against Leicester, but Lampard changed the game with a triple substitution at half-time.

It was a bold move to take off youngsters Billy Gilmour, Reece James and Mason Mount, but it paid dividends as Ross Barkley — one of those brought on — scored the winner after the half-time break.

Lampard had some harsh words for his players at the interval. He felt their first-half display was the worst 45 minutes they had produced all season and England midfielder Barkley revealed Lampard had told the team their performance was “not good enough for the badge”.

Lampard said he would not have made the three changes if the rules had not been changed to allow five substitutions, but he showed he is not afraid to make tough decisions.

On target: Barkley celebrates his winner at Leicester (REUTERS)

Gilmour, the star against Liverpool in the last round, had struggled and Lampard said his side were fortunate not to be behind after a “lethargic” display.

Barkley scored the winner when he swept home a cross from Willian, following a perfectly-timed run into the box that his manager would have been proud of.

Lampard was the master of the skill and Barkley has revealed he has been working on his timing with the Chelsea boss in training.

Barkley said: “He likes midfielders getting in the box. The timing of the runs, we work on that a lot in training, repetition of arriving in the box, he encourages that and gives us tips.”

Barkley also revealed how social-distancing rules had a hand in his goal. The Chelsea substitutes had a higher vantage point in the stands to ensure they were spread out and Barkley said: “Watching high up from the sides is an advantage, because you can see the space.

Lampard praises Ross Barkley's commitment after sending Chelsea through to FA semifinals

“Coming on for the second half, I knew that there was space in and around the box.

“We came away with the win, which was the most important thing. The winning mentality of the club and the gaffer since he has been back, he wants to win every game. It is a trophy and Chelsea is a massive club. Everyone is motivated.”

While Chelsea were booking their semi-final place, new signing Werner was saying his goodbyes at RB Leipzig, after scoring two goals in his final appearance for them on Saturday.

The Germany striker has defended his decision to miss the climax of the Champions League in order to give himself more time to settle in west London before the start of next season.

He said: “It hurts me that I cannot help out [RB Leipzig] in the Champions League, but I am a Chelsea player and being paid by them from July 1.”

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