Drogba: We're the team to beat
Chelsea forward Didier Drogba has insisted victories over the rest of the Premier League's elite will help bring the title back to Stamford Bridge this season. The Côte d'Ivoire international was instrumental in their 2-0 defeat of Liverpool yesterday, as he created goals for strike partner Nicolas Anelka and substitute Florent Malouda.
Chelsea moved top of the table, with a two-point lead over second-placed Manchester United, and condemned the Merseysiders to their third defeat of the campaign. The Blues picked up just four points from a possible 18 against United, Liverpool and Arsenal last term, and were beaten at home by the latter two, but after passing their biggest test of the season so far, Drogba now believes Chelsea can regain their crown.
"We have learned that a big part of our losing the title last year was our results against the big teams," he said. "We drew at home against Manchester United, and we lost here against Liverpool and Arsenal, so we wanted to change that trend this season.
"We want to be the team who wins these games against the big teams, and be at the top of the league. It's only the first game against a top-four team, but it was important to win it to show that we really want to be champions. We will be there. If the other teams want to win the title this season, they will have to fight us hard."
Chelsea's victory banished the memory of their 3-1 defeat at Wigan Athletic the previous week, and an insipid 1-0 success over Apoel Nicosia in the UEFA Champions League in midweek. But Drogba believes the Latics defeat could have given them the timely boost they required.
Chelsea began the season with six straight league victories, but the Wigan result sparked comparisons with former coach Luiz Felipe Scolari's tenure last season. The Blues lost their confidence after a fine start, and Liverpool's win at Stamford Bridge sent them into a freefall that ended with the Brazilian's sacking last February.
"Wigan was a disappointment, because if you want to win the league, you can't afford to lose many games like this," added Drogba. "The good thing is that we reacted. The main thing was a change in the attitude, which was much better against Liverpool."
Meanwhile, England midfielder Frank Lampard says he is unconcerned by the goal drought that has not seen him hit the net for his club since August. Lampard has regularly contributed 20 goals a season from midfield, but is struggling to rediscover his goal touch.
The 31-year-old's last goal was from the penalty spot in the victory over Sunderland, but he has failed to get on the scoresheet for the Blues since then. The midfielder had few opportunities to end the barren run against Liverpool, but has insisted that he is getting the same amount of chances in Ancelotti's new diamond system.
"I suppose the only slight difference for me this season is that I've maybe found myself further forward earlier on in games," said Lampard. "But I don't think the amount of chances I've been getting has changed particularly, I just think they haven't gone in for me so far.
"But there are always patches like that in any season and you just have to get through that. Sometimes it gets frustrating when you get three or four opportunities and still don't score. But I know there will be games later in the season where I'll get one opportunity and it will go in."