Frank Lampard explains Everton tactics against Watford and makes 'clinical' claim
Frank Lampard had no regrets over his tactical approach against Watford, believing it was right to stick with the formula that delivered wins against Leicester City and Chelsea.
The Blues boss said he understood there would be a degree of frustration after Everton failed to extend the relegated hosts' losing streak at Vicarage Road on Wednesday night. But he stressed the importance of being "level-headed" about the relegation picture - and of his club's destiny remaining in its own hands.
Everton struggled to penetrate Watford in a game of few clear cut chances at either end of the pitch. A win for the Blues would have put them on the cusp of Premier League safety - even creating the potential for survival to be secured before they play again at the weekend.
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However, rather than making attacking tactical or personnel changes from his side's set up against Leicester and Chelsea, where they allowed the opponents to dominate possession, Lampard adopted the same approach against Roy Hodgson's men.
Asked whether he was tempted to change things, Lampard said: "No, because the team has settled into the shape in the last few games well. I think sometimes when we play three [at the back] there are opportunities to play against a team that is 4-3-3 if we play it well, to give them problems, particularly in wide areas.
"I think we kind of did that but we weren't clinical enough at the top end of the pitch. But no, I was happy with that [approach] - it gives you security in the moment and, the way we are playing, it suits us in terms of people who are playing well in their positions as a team - our wing backs are playing very well at the moment, they were both very good tonight.
"It gives us the security for our centre halves and a nice shape to the team for me, as I see it at the moment. So we will see how that develops going forward but tonight I felt it was the right shape. We got into attacking areas a lot, we had security and structure in our team, we just didn't have that little bit of individual quality or zip. Maybe there is a little bit of tiredness in there from Leicester three days ago - it was a big exertion in the game - but I won't complain because the players are giving everything at the moment."
Lampard accepted there was an element of frustration at the result - even within his own dressing room - but said he was content with the draw, stressing he would have taken Everton's current situation had it been offered to him weeks ago. After taking seven points from nine, and 11 from the last 18 available, the Blues are two points above the drop, have dragged Leeds United into the battle and, in the upcoming games against Brentford and Crystal Palace, have the opportunity to secure survival at Goodison Park before travelling to Arsenal on the final day of the season.
Lampard said he was aware Leeds were losing against Chelsea at half-time in last night's game - but that did not tempt him to change his approach. He said that, while he was aware Watford would present a different challenge to recent tests, he did not want to "sacrifice" the structure of the team - adding that, had he played four at the back and Everton had lost 1-0, questions would be asked about his decision-making.
Instead, he focused on how pleased he was with Everton defensively and how things could have been different had the Blues made more of the opportunities they had with the ball in the final third.
He said: "I'm relatively happy. I think if you can't win, you don't lose, and we were more than secure in the game. I don't think they had a shot on our goal, Jordan didn't have saves to make - a couple of set pieces maybe to deal with as a team.
"We created a lot but probably, for us, with the amount of times we entered the final third and had the ball, we weren't as zippy as we normally are, we didn't have that cutting edge about our game in forward areas so on that point we probably didn't get enough clinical, clear cut chances to win the game. So it isn't easy, it's the Premier League, people think this was going to be a given for us, it was not. They had fresh players in their team, nothing to lose, and that can be a difficult thing so I'm relatively happy with the point."