FRANK Lampard believes Florent Malouda has turned a corner in his Chelsea career.
The French winger was outstanding in the recent Champions League win at Liverpool and his appetite for the big stage was on show again on Saturday when he scored the goal that set the Blues on their way to their FA Cup semi-final win over Arsenal.
"I think he will admit he had a difficult first season," Lampard said.
"It's not easy when you first arrive. A lot of top players come to England and don't settle straight away and there's different reasons for that ñ but he's kept going.
"He hasn't always played regularly this season either, but when he has played, he's given everything and he's doing really well for us now.
"The important thing is he's played in a lot of big games for us and done well in those games. His quality showed in our third goal at Liverpool where the ball across to Didier [Drogba] had to be bang-on perfect with pace and in the right place."
Lampard added: "The other thing about Florent is you never hear a peep out of him in the dressing room or training ground complaining about this or that. He keeps his head down.
"He's a natural left-sided player who gives us very good balance. He's a good team player who doesn't just get behind defences, he comes back into midfield and works hard."
Malouda himself was understandably serene after the Wembley win over the Gunners which has set up a date with Everton on May 30.
It was the winger's second goal at the stadium, as he also scored there against Man United in last season's Community Shield.
"I guess it was one of my best performances for Chelsea in terms of the importance of the match and I scored an important goal,î he said. I just hope it continues.
"It was great to score here again. Last time was with my left foot, this time with my right. But we must not forget it was only the semi-final and we haven't won anything yet.
"A lot of things have changed for me and the team since Guus Hiddink arrived. We are far from perfect and have let in too many goals, but the concentration levels have gone up and we've worked on our weak points. There's no doubt he has helped us to rediscover our confidence."