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Lampard says it how it is for Chelsea

Graham Fisher in Editorial, English Premier League 18 Feb 2011

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Tough times

Things have not exactly gone according to plan for Chelsea this season. They started fantastically well and it looked as though they would run away with the defence of their league title as they were streets ahead of any of their supposed challengers.

Burst

As we all know, the bubble burst in fairly spectacular fashion and things have become something of a struggle. After defeat to Liverpool and a goalless draw at Fulham, they find themselves in fifth place, outside the Champions League positions, and some twelve points behind the leaders Manchester United.

Of course, all is not lost and Chelsea may well make progress in the FA Cup this weekend in their fourth round replay at home to Everton and they must fancy their chances of victory over FC Copenhagen three days later in the Champions League. But it is the league that matters most and a top four finish is crucial to the club.

Winning

The FA Cup presents a great chance of winning another trophy, but that alone would not be enough for the club defending the double and with huge desire for European success. With the league title looking all but lost, Carlo Ancelotti must have watched the Milan and Tottenham and Arsenal and Barcelona games with some trepidation, knowing that they would have to seriously up their game to compete at that level.

Talking to the BBC at the launch of the England Footballers’ Foundation, Chelsea’s long serving midfielder Frank Lampard summed up the situation.

“We must finish in the top four and can never take our eye off the ball, it would be a disaster if we didn’t qualify.”

Excuses

Whilst offering some excuses, Lampard made it clear that players not performing was the reason for their current league predicament.

“We haven’t performed as well, there’s been injuries, and some unsettling moments, but if you don’t perform you fall behind in the title race and that’s the reason really.”

Crucial

Lampard hasn’t completely given up in the defence of the Premier League but did say how important the two cup competitions have come.

“There’s huge importance because you can see the league’s going to be difficult and that means it’s more important to reach finals.”

Pleased

Lampard feels that the purchases of Fernando Torres and David Luiz will be crucial for the forthcoming months. He recognises that new blood was needed and is pleased by the incomings.

“Torres has made a huge difference. No, he hasn’t scored in two games but all the spotlight is on him. There’s a huge responsibility, people are looking to him to do it instantly, but he will make a difference to us. He’s a top-class player, he has boosted the lads already and for sure will come good, he’s going to add to us in a big way. David Luiz has come in as well and has been fantastic.

“I was slightly surprised but it was very exciting and I was pleased. It’s a huge boost to have such quality players that we needed at the time. We haven’t spent much in recent years compared to some by our standards, but last season we won the League and FA Cup double and this was a good time for us to go into the market. I’m just thankful we’ve got the funds to do this.”

Rosy

The next few days are crucial to Chelsea’s season. If they can beat Everton and move on to the fifth round of the FA Cup, get a decent result in Copenhagen on Tuesday and ease the path of progress in Europe and then beat Manchester United at Stamford Bridge in the Premier League seven days later, then everything in the Chelsea garden will look rosy. If any or all of those things do not happen, then the season really will be heading towards disaster.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Graham Fisher


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