We’re not as good as we used to be, admits Chelsea’s Frank Lampard
Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard concedes that the Blues are "not as good as we used to be" after Tottenham draw
Frank Lampard admits Chelsea are no longer the force they once were – but insists the Blues are still in line to seal a top-four finish this season.
Roberto Di Matteo’s men were held to a goalless draw by Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday, leaving Chelsea five points behind their fourth-placed London rivals with eight games left to play.
But the 33-year-old England international is adamant that the race to secure Champions League football for next season is “far from over”.
“Chelsea should be in the top four,” Lampard told Chelsea TV. “No disrespect to the other top-five clubs but, with the ability we have, we should be in there.
“It is far from over. There is no point being downbeat about it at the minute. It’s five points and the gap has been bigger than that.
“It’s up to us now to get ourselves right for Benfica and the league games coming up.”
Lampard added: “The fixtures and where we are in the table doesn’t lie – we’re not as good as we used to be,”
“[Being fifth] is due to dropping points throughout the season, not drawing with Tottenham at home. It’s losing games we should have won home and away.
“We have to take all the league games now as knockout matches. It’s very cliched but we’re fighting from behind, and if we lose a game and lose points then the gap is bigger and the amount of games left is shorter.
“So we know, especially after that draw, the gap is still five points and there is no more room for slip-ups.”
Pre-match facts: Benfica v Chelsea
• Two-time winners Benfica have not got beyond the last eight since 1990 while Chelsea, by contrast, have been regular semi-finalists in the past decade
• This is the teams’ first meeting but Chelsea’s many Portuguese connections should ensure the trip holds few surprises – not least for David Luiz and Ramires, members of Jorge Jesus’s 2010 league title-winning Benfica side
• Benfica have already got the better of one Premier League side this season, having earned two draws with Manchester United as they finished top of their group with the English champions down in third place
• Chelsea are still seeking a first away victory in this season’s Champions League after two draws and then two defeats