Chelsea will be contenders, says Lampard

Frank Lampard maintains no matter how much their Barclays Premier League title rivals spend, Chelsea still believe they will be the team to beat next season.

Frank Lampard maintains no matter how much their Barclays Premier League title rivals spend, Chelsea still believe they will be the team to beat next season.

The Blues, who are close to completing the signing of young Genk goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, are in Malaysia ahead of the Barclays Asia Trophy, which could see them face Aston Villa or Blackburn.

By the time the domestic season kicks off at Stoke, new boss Andre Villas-Boas is expected to have further strengthened his squad, with Tottenham’s Luka Modric and Belgian starlet Romelu Lukaku high on his wishlist.

Defending champions Manchester United, would-be successors Manchester City, Liverpool and, following the £11m signing of Ivory Coast forward Gervinho, now even Arsenal have brought in new talent.

However, Lampard insists if Chelsea’s current group can last the distance, they will be in the driving seat to regain their Premier League crown.

“Manchester United, Liverpool and Manchester City have spent fortunes on good quality players, but we are in a bit of a different situation in that we already had a very strong squad,” the England midfielder said.

“The manager wants to evaluate what he has got which is understandable and who knows whether we add or change, that is the manager’s prerogative, but the great thing we have already is we believe in ourselves as we are.

“Whether the manager makes additions or changes or not, I think the squad is very strong to challenge.

“Whether Man United or any other team spends, we still believe in ourselves.”

Had Carlo Ancelotti’s men not gone off the rails midway through the last campaign, then the Italian would probably still be in a job, reflecting on back-to-back championships.

Lampard knows consistency will be key again in 2011/2012.

“We just have to learn the lessons and we have the quality in this team to be successful, it is a matter of getting our focus right,” the England midfielder said.

“We had a very poor patch of form for a few months last season which you can’t afford to do and we have to be aware of that and make sure we keep our eye on the ball individually.

“If we do that with the quality we have I don’t see a reason why we can’t get back to the successes we had the year before and more.”

Courtois’ move from Genk is expected to be completed shortly, the player undergoing a medical yesterday.

However, the 19-year-old revealed he may likely be allowed out on loan, probably to Spanish side Atletico Madrid, so he can gain first-team experience.

Chelsea play a Malaysian XI on Thursday, and conducted an open training session at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium, in front of thousands of local fans.

The Blues move onto Bangkok for a game against Thailand All Stars in Bangkok and then Hong Kong for the Asia Trophy on July 27/30.

Despite Brazil duo David Luiz and Ramires both seeing their Copa America involvement cut short, the pair will not be heading to the Far East, instead linking up when the squad returns to London ahead of the final warm-up match at Rangers.

More in this section


Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox