Lampard urges Chelsea to focus
Frank Lampard believes it will be tough for Chelsea to secure Champions League qualification despite consolidating third place on Tuesday.
Olivier Giroud’s first-half goal was enough to see Chelsea edge Norwich City 1-0 at Stamford Bridge, moving four points clear of Leicester City and Manchester United, who are fourth and fifth respectively and have played one less game.
But Lampard’s men have league matches against Liverpool and Wolves to finish their campaign as they look to secure a top-four finish.
The Chelsea head coach believes Chelsea still face a battle to secure their place in next season’s Champions League.
“I keep talking about mentality and I don’t like the word bottle too much, but when you’re coming up against Liverpool away and Wolves at home, it’s just two very good opponents,” Lampard told a news conference.
“We just have to focus on those games one by one, prepare right, show the right attitude, I thought we showed it [against Norwich] in a way, those two games will look completely different to what tonight did.
“But rather than talk about bottle, I want to talk about focus and I want to talk about attitude and then hopefully we have enough to get through, but it’s going to be tough.”
In Lampard’s first season in charge, Chelsea are also in the FA Cup semi-finals and Champions League last 16, although they suffered a 3-0 loss to Bayern Munich in the first leg.
The 42-year-old has been pleased with Chelsea’s progress, although accepted they still had a long way to go to catch Liverpool and Manchester City.
“We can be pretty happy with where we’re at right now,” Lampard said.
“I don’t want to jump the gun because we have games that are going to be really pivotal on where we actually finish, but if we were to have said we would’ve been in third and contesting like we are and in the FA Cup and Champions League, I know it’s going to be really tough but we got through the group stage, and you see the transition of the team and the youth and the issues we had, a lot of our players were on loan last year and most of those in the Championship, I think we can be pretty happy.
“But I really do feel like there’s a lot of work to do, I don’t think we should get overly excited, the gap is clear with Liverpool and Manchester City in terms of points.
“We are in a situation here, we’re in a work in progress and there is a lot to do so I’m happy and I want a lot more and when we come back for the start of next season however this season ends we have to tackle it and say, ‘Can we start closing that gap?’ And it’s going to be a tough job.”
Frank Lampard also paid tribute to Olivier Giroud’s character and professionalism after becoming a key player for Chelsea in recent weeks despite appearing to be on his way out of the club in January.
Giroud, 33, was strongly linked with a transfer away from Chelsea at the start of the year having reportedly grown frustrated with a lack of first-team football, finding himself back-up to Tammy Abraham.
But Chelsea kept hold of the Frenchman and he has taken on a key role in the club’s bid for Champions League qualification since the Premier League’s resumption last month, scoring four times.
His most recent was the winner in Tuesday’s 1-0 triumph over Norwich City, which put Chelsea four points clear of fifth-placed Manchester United, and Lampard saluted Giroud’s impact.
“He is always going to give you a desire to get in there for the team,” Lampard told Sky Sports. “He had a few half chances in the central area. That is what you have to do when he is in the team – use his attributes, try and cross the ball.