Frank Lampard is talking the talk ahead of this weekend’s clash with Manchester United. The Chelsea midfielder has challenged his team to record victory over their title rivals to ‘start this part of the season very strong’.
As we move into 2009, Chelsea are still very much in the running for the title. However, as we all know, crucial points have been dropped in recent weeks to hand Liverpool a three point lead at the top of the table. Draws with Fulham, Everton, West Ham and Newcastle have been disappointing for everyone involved.
Not only have the results been poor, but there has been a visible lack of confidence and belief in the players. This hasn’t been the case in past seasons, but for some reason the team aren’t going into games with the same ‘we can beat anybody’ attitude that they have in the past. The recent FA Cup draw with Southend highlighted this. With this in mind, it is worth wiping the slate clean. The new year has to bring a change to the attitude, performance and therefore result of this Chelsea team. No longer can they afford to draw home games or throw away three points by conceding late goals. In a sense, the season starts now.
Lampard agrees with these sentiments and he sees victory at Old Trafford on Sunday as the perfect way to trigger a decent run of form as we move into the second half of the season. Lampard describes the game in Manchester as ‘a very important game’ and that because of the team dropping some ‘relatively easy points’ recently – avoiding defeat is vital.
There is no underestimating how fantastic the impact would be on Chelsea’s season if three points were picked up on Sunday. Not only would it mean Chelsea extended the gap between them and Ferguson’s men, but it would renew the belief in the squad that they are the team to beat in this league.
Then, with home games against Stoke and Middlesbrough to follow, the football odds would expect it to be three wins in a row going into the game against Liverpool at the start of February. Going into this game at Anfield, with a victory over United and two convincing home performances under the player’s belts would be extremely positive.
Admittedly, I am getting rather ahead of myself and the focus should clearly be on this Sunday, but I’m just highlighting how huge a win against Manchester United could be for the remainder of Chelsea’s season.
You’ll notice I haven’t talked about the consequences of defeat this weekend, but considering the feeling around Stamford Bridge right now, this is not without good reason.
Something that Lampard rightly mentions though is that ‘no-one has pulled away from us’ despite the amount of points that have been dropped. Liverpool, Manchester United and of course Arsenal have had there fair share of below par performances and poor results – Chelsea are not alone. With this in mind, it is worth wiping the slate clean. The new year has to bring a change to the attitude, performance and therefore result of this Chelsea team. No longer can they afford to draw home games or throw away three points by conceding late goals. In a sense, the season starts now.
By Thomas Rooney – A sports writer who blogs about football betting