Lampard puts rivals on notice

Frank Lampard has warned Chelsea's Premier League rivals that the Blues' combination of style and substance is potent enough to regain the title.

Luiz Felipe Scolari's side demonstrated their flair with an opening weekend rout of Portsmouth, and proved they aren't afraid to mix it as well by grinding out a hard-fought victory at Wigan.

Scolari will sample the frenetic atmosphere of a London derby for the first time on Sunday when Tottenham visit Stamford Bridge, but Lampard has already seen enough to know that Chelsea can cope with any challenge.

Not every game in the Premier League is easy to play great, flowing football in
Chelsea's Frank Lampard defends his side's display against Wigan

"It has been very good, with two different performances," Lampard told Chelsea's website. "Against Portsmouth I think everyone sat up and took notice of that, and Wigan was one where we had to dig in a bit more against a very physical team, who I think will cause a lot of problems for teams at home this year. I think it's important to take a lot from both games. ."

Chelsea's bid to end Manchester United's two-year reign as champions is being driven by the most formidable midfield in Europe, and Lampard has been blown away by the contribution from Deco, a pre-season signing from Barcelona.

"Deco has been brilliant," he said. "Against Portsmouth he scored a great goal and then the free-kick he hit the other day (at Wigan) was a match-winning moment, it's what you want players like him in your team for. I expect more of the same from him."

Liverpool will aim to stay level with leaders Chelsea when they travel to Aston Villa on Sunday. Rafa Benitez's side have won both their league matches so far and reached the group stages of the UEFA Champions League in midweek.

Alvaro Arbeloa believes the Reds are reaping the rewards of the fierce competition for places that ensures every player has to maintain peak form. "You can never say that you are a first choice at this football club," Arbeloa told LFC Magazine. "If you start to think like that then you can just about guarantee that you are about to lose your place. It's a big fight to get into the team, it's a bigger fight to stay there."

After three lacklustre performances to open the season, Arsenal were reinvigorated by the return of Cesc Fabregas in their midweek win over FC Twente. Arsene Wenger's side, who host Newcastle on Saturday, dispatched the Dutch team with the kind of fluid display that has been their hallmark for the last two years.

Gael Clichy, the club's French left-back, insists the Gunners have a duty to win playing that kind of entertaining football every week. "Of course we have to win things. That is the main objective - to win something this year," Clichy said. "But if we can do it the way we play, it is even better because football is to entertain people and to take pleasure and that's what we are doing at Arsenal.

"Fulham showed us last weekend that you have to be up for every game, game after game because English football is so different from any other football in Europe. That was a big blow and we will learn from it, and hopefully it won't happen again."

Elsewhere, Bolton manager Gary Megson faces his former club West Bromwich Albion. Megson will be desperate for some good news after after a shock League Cup exit against Northampton and serious injuries to Johan Elmander and Matt Taylor this week.

Shaun Wright-Phillips should make his second debut for Manchester City at Sunderland on Sunday after the England winger rejoined Mark Hughes's side from Chelsea.