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Frank Lampard using Premier League table as motivational tool as Chelsea prepare for Man Utd showdown

FRANK LAMPARD cannot take his eyes off how the table is turning.

The Chelsea boss has admitted a daily obsession with studying the league table as the race for Champions League qualification hots up.

His Blues are still in the box seat, holding a one-point advantage over fifth-placed Tottenham with a game in hand.

But that gap was as big as nine in October.

And with their extra fixture being against another rival in  Manchester United tonight, the West Londoners need to hold  their nerve.

Manchester City’s two-season European ban will mean fifth spot will also qualify for the Champions League, unless they somehow  succeed with a quick-fire appeal.

Yet with up to SIX sides  realistically battling for the final two places, Lampard revealed he is using the standings to help his squad get over the line.

The Blues boss said: “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.

“I remember having that as  a player.

“We were fighting generally for first and second 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.

“That’s for me to do. For the players, reminding them sometimes is fine.”

It would take a monumental  collapse for third-placed Leicester to fail to qualify for Europe’s elite club competition.

But after the Foxes, just six points separate half a dozen sides from fourth-placed Chelsea on 41 down to ninth-placed United on 35.

And Lampard feels the increase in runners and riders has made the situation even harder.

He said: “The landscape is tougher in terms of picking up points, as you can see from the totals in and around us.

“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. Teams now can invest a lot of money.

“You can get promoted to the Premier League, spend  £100million and it doesn’t guarantee success.”

Tonight’s  crunch clash at  Stamford Bridge gives Chelsea a chance to avenge the 4-0  hammering they received at Old Trafford in their first game of  the season.

Yet despite the scoreline, that  performance — and the one in the  penalty shootout defeat to Liverpool in the Super Cup three days later — convinced Lampard his young side could do well this season.

The 41-year-old added: “It wasn’t a 4-0 game.

“I’d be the first to criticise myself or us or look at ourselves and  I was honest with the players  afterwards.

“Then three days later they went toe-to-toe with the best team in the country by a mile this season and possibly could, or should, have won the Super Cup.

“I said to the players after both games ‘We have enough here to have a successful season’.

“Obviously we have to put that right come the end of the season.”


Chelsea will move nine points clear of United if they secure  victory this evening.

Yet when asked if a win would kill off Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s hopes of catching his side, Lampard replied: “No.

“Not at nine points, not at this time with the amount of points left to play for and the way the  Premier League is. Certainly not.”

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