Chelsea: Lampard comes out fighting as pressure grows
Six weeks is an extremely long time in football…just ask Chelsea supporters. Following a 3-1 win over Leeds United on December 5 the Blues were sitting at the top of the Premier League table.
That victory at Stamford Bridge extended their unbeaten run to nine games, with Frank Lampard’s side seemingly set for a full blown title tilt.
Shortly after Chelsea got the better of Leeds, Jurgen Klopp labelled the Londoners as ‘the favourites’ for to win the league.
The Liverpool manager suggested that the options at Lampard’s disposal meant that anyone with aspirations of winning the title, would likely have to finish above the Blues.
“If I watch football games at the moment then Chelsea, for me, look like favourites,” Klopp said. “They have the biggest squad, great players playing well together after a rusty start – and they are full on.
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“They have unbelievable opportunities to change in games and make changes from one game to the other – so that is it.
“I don’t feel we are chasing anyone at the moment – or that anyone is chasing us.
“Pressure is there for us but it’s about how much you think about that pressure, to be honest.”
Lampard was quickly warned to not fall foul of the mind games that have swallowed more experienced managers in years gone by.
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Who can forget the memorable meltdowns of Kevin Keegan and Rafael Benitez? Both inspired by legendary Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson.
And on first glance, Lampard refused to take the bait. “I’m not sure anyone actually really went for it,” the Chelsea boss said on Klopp’s claims.
“I think Liverpool and Manchester City seem to be pretty much everyone’s favourite when they perform like they have for the last three years and build up the squads like they have for the last three or four years. Quite rightly so.
“Even with injuries, when you look at Liverpool’s squad and the team they put out last night to cover those injuries.”
But while Lampard’s response in the press was well pitched, his side’s has been anything but.
In the eight games since Klopp piled the pressure on, Chelsea have picked up just seven points, losing five times.
It’s a run of form that has seen them drop from the summit, to perilously close to the bottom half.
In that period, only rock bottom Sheffield United have been beaten on more occasions, with their defensive frailties exposed once again vs Leicester City.
“Where everything was rosy in mid-December, it is not so now,” Lampard said after the defeat at the King Power.
He admitted that some of his players may have thought they had cracked it when times were good.
Klopp may have believed that too…either way, they now look a long way away from a team anyone is backing to lift the trophy come May.
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