Lampard makes ‘underdogs’ claim as Chelsea fail to strengthen


Frank Lampard claims Chelsea are now the “underdogs and the outsiders” to secure a top-four finish after a quiet January transfer window.

When Lampard took charge at Stamford Bridge the Blues really were outsiders for a top-four finish in the Premier League. Superstar Eden Hazard left for Real Madrid, and the club were under a transfer ban so were unable to bring in any new faces over the summer – aside from Christian Pulisic who had agreed his move from Borussia Dortmund in January and Mateo Kovacic as his loan stay from Real became a permanent deal.

However, Chelsea had their transfer ban reduced on appeal in December and Lampard was handed his first chance to add to his squad. The former England international made no secret of his desire to sign a new forward but the only new arrival at Stamford Bridge was Norwegian teenager Bryan Fiabema, who will link up with the youth team.

Paris Saint-Germain striker Edinson Cavani was heavily linked with Chelsea and Napoli’s Dries Mertens was also rated as a target but the west London outfit were unable to get any deals over the line.

The Blues currently sit fourth in the Premier League ahead of their trip to third-placed Leicester on Saturday. Chelsea have a six-point lead over closest rivals Manchester United, Spurs and Wolves but all three managed to bring in reinforcements in the winter window – as did surprise package Sheffield United, who are only a point worse off.

Lampard acknowledges his team are in pole position right now, but believes their failure to recruit could have been a costly mistake.

“Teams have strengthened around us,” said Lampard.

“From my view, and this is not to talk ourselves down, because we’re six points clear in fourth, now we become probably the underdogs and the outsiders to some point.”

He added: “If I’m looking at it with my business head on and looking around us in the table, Manchester United obviously have signed a big, world-class player [Bruno Fernandes] in my opinion.”

Lampard may now see his side as underdogs – but the bookmakers have a different viewpoint. Chelsea are around 2/5 to finish in the top four, while Spurs and United are outsiders at 5/1 and 6/1 respectively.

Chelsea’s failure to sign a striker does look a big blow, particularly as Tammy Abraham is an injury concern, but they still have strong options in attack.

Olivier Giroud and Michy Batshuayi are still at the club despite being linked with January exits, and with both pushing for places in the France and Belgium squads respectively for Euro 2020 they will be eager to impress whenever the chance arises in the second half of the campaign.

Giroud and Batshuayi may not be in Lampard’s long-term plans but both can still play a part this season.

Lampard says he sees his side as underdogs in the top-four battle, but make no mistake his counterparts at United and Spurs would switch places in a heartbeat as Chelsea are the team with the points on the board.