Chelsea keep focus on treble vision

FRANK LAMPARD insists Chelsea still have their eyes on landing an incredible trophy treble this season, after demolishing Liverpool in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final at Anfield.

Two goals from defender Branislav Ivanovic and a third from Didier Drogba gave Chelsea an emphatic victory on Wednesday night, after Fernando Torres had put Liverpool in front in the sixth minute.

Chelsea are favourites to reach the semi-finals of the competition, and Lampard was buoyed by the performance and result – amid speculation that Carlo Ancelotti is to join the Blues as coach in June.

Latest media reports suggest the AC Milan coach has accepted a £5.8million (e6.5m) deal to replace interim coach Guus Hiddink, but Chelsea yesterday officially dismissed them as “just speculation”.

Ancelotti has long been favourite to become the next Chelsea coach, but the clamour for Hiddink to stay is expected to grow following the performance against Liverpool.

Hiddink has made it clear he will return to manage the Russia national side at the end of the campaign. But helping Chelsea to glory in the Barclays Premier League, the Champions League and the FA Cup may go some way to changing his mind.

Midfielder Lampard was at his influential best against Liverpool, who will go to Stamford Bridge next Tuesday requiring at least three goals to have any chance of turning the tie in their favour.

Lampard is not ready, though, to focus solely on winning the Champions League this season.

“This result sets the tone really,” he said. “Who knows what can happen in the league and the FA Cup?

“Everything is still up for grabs, even though we are behind in the league. It is important that we keep to the standard we played against Liverpool. When we look at the strength of our team throughout the pitch, we are as good as anybody.

“We need to set the standard we have shown against Liverpool. It gives us confidence. But we cannot relax, and there is everything to play for. We have to try and keep on top form in every game.”

Chelsea’s advantage should make the return leg at home a mere formality, but the ever-cautious Lampard is taking nothing for granted.

“We were disappointed we didn’t score more, especially towards the end of the game when they opened up and we had two or three chances to make it four or five,” he added.

“That would have put the game out of sight. At the moment, it is not out of sight. Liverpool are a strong team – they beat Manchester United 4-1 – and we have to be on our game next week and make sure we don’t slip up.’’

One low point for Chelsea was captain John Terry’s booking for a challenge on goalkeeper Jose Reina. Terry is now suspended for the return leg, but Lampard believes they have enough in reserve to deal with his absence – and he also criticised Liverpool’s players for urging the referee to show the defender a yellow card.

“We hope we’ll have enough in the squad,” he said.

“Ricardo Carvalho looks as though he will be fit – and if we can go through then John will be on a clean bill going into the semi-final. It was unfortunate that the Liverpool players ran round to make sure he did get booked.” Meanwhile Chelsea are believed to be preparing a big-money bid for Valencia striker David Villa.

Manchester City have been heavily linked with the 27-year-old Spain star, although on Wednesday night Villa claimed he intended to see out the remainder of his contract at the Mestalla, which does not expire until 2014. However, it is believed Chelsea are preparing to test Valencia’s financial position my making a huge offer for Villa, who scored in Spain’s friendly win over England in Seville in February.

After a couple of relatively austere summers, it is thought Blues owner Roman Abramovich wants to make a signature signing, to re-emphasise his commitment to the Stamford Bridge cause.

And with the futures of Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka still open to doubt, Abramovich feels Villa would be the perfect addition to the Chelsea squad.


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