Frank Lampard has explained why he believes Chelsea are the ‘underdogs’ in the race for the top four, despite the club’s continued position in the Champions League places.
Many expected Chelsea to miss out on the top four this season following the club’s summer transfer-ban and departure of Eden Hazard to Real Madrid, though the Blues remain firmly in the race to secure their place amongst Europe’s elite following a 2-2 draw at third-placed Leicester on Saturday lunchtime.
Antonio Rudiger scored twice at the King Power Stadium to earn Lampard’s side a valuable point, with the club currently five points clear of nearest challengers Sheffield United.
Despite the west London side’s position in the top four, the Chelsea boss believes his side remain outsiders to achieve Champions League qualification, having seen his side frustrated in the January transfer window as the sides around them strengthened with new additions.
‘From my view, and this is not to talk ourselves down as we are six points clear in fourth, but now we probably become the underdogs and the outsiders to a certain point, because teams around us have strengthened,’ Lampard told chelseafc.com.
‘The answer is work. I have to be the first person to remain positive, no matter what, and I have to be truthful when I speak out loud because Chelsea fans are listening and they want to best.
‘We know recruitment is huge for a team that wants to be successful. Look no further than Liverpool or Manchester City in recent years. People will get bored if I keep crying about that, the players have to work.
‘At the start of the season, among a lot of fans and a lot of pundits and commentators from outside, nobody had us in their top four and people were saying if you are in the top eight or top 10 we understand.
‘Obviously not fighting relegation but now probably because we got ahead of the curve, expectation was that if we are to hang on to fourth, a particular result is not good.
‘I get that, expectations change, but the reality is now that we are in fourth but it is going to be a really big fight. Now we have to be up for that challenge, young or more experienced players, but the first person who is up for that challenge is me.’