Frank Lampard has admitted his Chelsea side are looking ‘nervy’ as the top four battle intensifies and the business end of the Premier League season is here.
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A young Chelsea side labored to a 1-0 win over already-relegated Norwich City on Tuesday to move them into third place ahead of their final two games of the season.
Speaking to our partners at Sky Sports after the narrow win for Chelsea, Lampard admitted the top four race will go down to the wire.
“It’s a tough one to call. We know our fixtures are hard, but everyone else also has tough games. This is the Premier League and it’s not easy,” Lampard said. “We take our three points, we focus on ourselves, we can sit down and watch the other teams this week and focus on our FA Cup semifinal at the weekend [against Manchester United], but there’s obviously still work to do.
“There’s a nervy feeling for understandable reasons, so I’m pleased. We went a bit slow for about 10 or 15 minutes in the second half. Then we began moving the ball again and there was a bit of personality in our game today, but we can improve.”
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Chelsea have a trip to Liverpool next week and a home game against Wolves on the final day of the season and they know that four points from those two games will seal Champions League qualification.
Lampard was asked if it is now about ‘bottle’ and holding their nerve to get over the line.
“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 is just two really good opponents,” Lampard said. “We just have to focus on those games, one-by-one. Prepare right. Show the right attitude. I thought we showed it today in a way. Those two games will look completely different to tonight. But rather than talk about bottle I want to talk about focus and attitude and then hopefully we will have enough to get through. It’s going to be tough.”
With Chelsea now sitting back and watching Leicester City and Manchester United both play twice before they play in the Premier League again, Lampard revealed he and his players keep one eye on other results, just like Man United dropping points at home late on against Southampton on Monday.
“I actually didn’t speak to them about it today because I have mentioned other games around us. We all saw the game. I don’t have to say something. We know if a team around you has a moment like that you want to capitalize,” Lampard said. “We failed to do so at others times of the season. All I wanted to do was make sure that we do our job. I felt tonight was about us, against a team which has just been relegated, with all due respect, here at home, if we get our job done right we get the three points.”
It will be tough and tight n the top four battle and Lampard has to rally his young side for two final tough tests ahead as they try and get over the line.
If Chelsea do qualify for the Champions League this season they will be way ahead of where people thought they would be when Lampard took charge last summer.
Given their transfer ban, Eden Hazard leaving and a host of youngsters all playing in their first-ever Premier League season together, it’s safe to say that going into the final weeks of the season this has been a success.
However, Chelsea have slipped up enough times this season under Lampard to warrant that ‘nervy’ feeling wafting around Stamford Bridge.