Frank Lampard is relishing the run in as Chelsea seek a top four finish and has outlined his ‘long-term’ aims to turn the club into title challengers.
Chelsea currently sit fourth in the Premier League and are on course to secure Champions League qualification, though their season has produced a series of inconsistent displays with the west London side having taken just 12 points from their previous 10 league fixtures.
Lampard’s side return from the winter break with a home clash against fellow top four hopefuls Manchester United tonight, the club currently sitting one point clear fifth-placed Tottenham ahead of a crucial meeting at Stamford Bridge.
The Chelsea boss says he has reflected on the club’s progress during the mid-season break, and says he is pleased with how his developing side have fared this season during a transitional period for the club.
“I always like to reflect on myself and how I work day-to-day with the players, so there was a lot of self reflection and having a little time away brings a bit of clarity to think we should be happy in fourth position,” Lampard told the official Chelsea website.
“We know we dropped points against Arsenal at home and against Newcastle away and previously before that, and in the moment every point you feel like you’ve dropped really hurts, but at the same time we have to realise where we are. We are in a bit of a transition and the Premier League has never been as competitive as it is now.
“Coming fourth for Chelsea is our aim now, but it shouldn’t be our aim long term. We want to be pushing again to close the gap to the standard, which at the minute is Liverpool. That’s the longer-term vision and sometimes within that long-term vision you need a bit of calmness within the storm. Hopefully I can be that, but stay driven.
“So I think being fourth would have been a plus at the start of the season, but at the same time, I think about how we can get that extra 10 or 15 per cent that I think we’ve been lacking, that if we’d had would have got us a lot more points on the board and would make fourth look a lot more comfortable. So I’ve come back very keen and excited to hit this long run-in to the end of the season.”
Chelsea face a defining period in their season with the clash against United being followed by a huge London derby meeting with Spurs and the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie against Bayern Munich.
Lampard says his players are aware of the importance of their upcoming fixtures as they bid to secure Champions League football for next season, and admits he is relishing what could prove to be a huge week for the club.
“I don’t mind the reality of it, I like the reality of it,” he explained. “I think the players should know that if you want to make the top four, we’re in a good position now and we can affect it seriously over the next seven days.
“That’s not bad to have in your mind. We should be slightly on edge. Training should be on edge, like it has been, when people are tense and being competitive, and we have to take that into the game against Manchester United.”
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