Chelsea boss Frank Lampard tells squad to forget table ahead of crucial clash vs Manchester United

Jack Rosser
Evening Standard
Getty Images
Getty Images

Chelsea return from their winter break for two clashes which could all but seal their place in the top four over the next week, but Frank Lampard has told his squad to leave obsessing over their place in the Premier League table to him.

The Blues host Manchester United on Monday night before Jose Mourinho's Tottenham visit west London on Saturday in what will be a defining week for the top four race. Two home wins and Chelsea will be sitting extremely pretty.

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Lampard's side are two points clear for fifth-placed Sheffield United, who have played a game more, while Uefa's ruling against Manchester City - if upheld - also makes their position in the Champions League places rather more secure.

A victory against United and the Red Devils will be nine points adrift of Chelsea. Lampard's squad are aware of the ramifications this week could bring, but with their future in their hands the Blues boss is keen to ensure he is the only one glued to the Premier League standings.

“I would [remind them of the table] at certain times," Lampard said.

"I don’t think you should speak about it too much because you end up with your eyes everywhere, up and down the table and around yourself. I think we can only affect ourselves first and foremost.

“But I don’t think it’s the worst motivational tool for all of us to really understand the situation, because I have a deep sense of pride about wanting to get fourth place.

“I remember having that as a player. We were fighting generally for first and second place for a good period when I was here and that’s how you should be. So I don’t mind referencing that to the players.

“I look at the league table two or three times a day, sometimes. You can become obsessed with it.

“That’s for me to do. For the players, reminding them sometimes is fine. It’s a good tool."

Chelsea are in pole position to qualify for the Champions League Photo: Getty Images
Chelsea are in pole position to qualify for the Champions League Photo: Getty Images

With the race for the top six encompassing so many sides this year - the likes of Everton, Wolves and even Burnley and Southampton have aspirations of European football next season - the challenge only grows for Lampard.

Chelsea have dropped points to many of those in the chasing pack this season - drawing with Sheffield United as early as August while Southampton were victorious at Stamford Bridge on Boxing Day.

They are not the only ones. It will take a much higher points tally to avoid the drop this season, either testament to the quality of those at the bottom or a sign of so many in transition further up.

Whatever the reason it presents another set of hurdles to Lampard and his squad, one he is relishing.

“I’m not sure how it changes it, other than it is tougher," said Lampard. "The landscape is tougher in terms of picking up points, as you can see from the points totals in and around ourselves.

Solskjaer and Lampard meet again in the dugout on Monday Photo: Manchester United via Getty Images
Solskjaer and Lampard meet again in the dugout on Monday Photo: Manchester United via Getty Images

“Maybe for us, in a usual year, we would not be so happy [with our points total] but this year it looks a lot different with points being taken off different teams.

“It’s a changing of the Premier League, slightly. Teams now can invest a lot of money. You can get promoted to the Premier League, spend a £100m and it doesn’t guarantee you success.

“That’s the kind of challenging times that we’re talking about. Challenge is a good thing."

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