Lampard wants more of the same
Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard has urged his team-mates to finish the title race against Liverpool with the same commitment and spirit that saw them destroy Stoke 7-0 at Stamford Bridge yesterday.
The thrashing put the Blues back on top of the English Premier League by a single point ahead of Manchester United. Chelsea now face Liverpool at Anfield in on Sunday and with Liverpool gunning for a UEFA Champions League place, Lampard knows it will probably be the pivotal moment of an enthralling season in the top flight.
Victory for the Reds would help their chances of finishing in the top four but at the same time it would almost certainly hand the title to Sir Alex Ferguson's side, who travel to Sunderland the same day. That would mean United moving ahead of Liverpool for most league championships as the pair are currently tied on 18 each.
But Lampard insists handing the record to United will not figure in the minds of Liverpool's players next weekend and urged his team-mates to show the same intensity they did against the Potters. "The win against Stoke doesn't count for anything now," declared Lampard. "Of course you want to carry the momentum through and it is helpful to take confidence into the next game. But if we don't turn up at Anfield, play slow and without the same intensity that we did against Stoke, then we will lose, it is simple as that.
"There is no chance 11 Liverpool players will go out and consider United winning the title on what happens in that game," he went on. "They will go out to win. They will want to be professional. There is no way they will think about anything else other than winning the game, regardless of whether it helps them get in the Champions League or not. They will give everything, there is no doubt about that.
"It is a difficult match but it's not a case of us worrying. Everyone is aware that when they go to Liverpool it will be difficult, whatever stage of the season it is," Lampard added. "Win two games and we win the league, if we don't, we may have to rely on goal difference - it depends on Manchester United's results."
Chelsea were rampant against a ragged Stoke side and Lampard grabbed a double, one from the penalty spot, to take his tally to 25 for the season. Salomon Kalou hit a hat-trick with substitute Daniel Sturridge and Florent Malouda also on target.
But while Didier Drogba failed to get on the score sheet, the Ivorian striker caused problems for City all afternoon. His power, presence and pace, considering he is supposed to be struggling with a groin problem, helped Chelsea bounce back in style from their defeat to Tottenham the previous week.
Drogba may have lost out on an individual honour to Wayne Rooney in the race to become the PFA Player of the Year but Ivorian international is determined to finish top scorer in the Premier League. "The way Didier played against Stoke is what he's about," said Lampard. "People talk about Rooney being missing and he is the player of the year but we have also lost players for large parts of the season. It all evens itself out. Didier wants to be the top scorer in the league, he deserves to be. Let's hope in the next two games he will score the goals to make him that."
Kalou on song
Meanwhile Kalou celebrated his first-hat-trick for the club with the match ball and insisted their 7-0 victory showed how badly they want the title. "Winning 7-0 at home shows we really want to be champions," said Kalou. "If you want to be champions, that's the kind of game you have to win. "We didn't show any nerves. Everyone was at their best and played very well. We know United won't back down so we have to push it. We have to focus on ourselves and keep winning our games. We can't expect United to give us the title."
Meanwhile Stoke goalkeeper Thomas Sorenson could still make the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ finals with Denmark this summer after his dislocated elbow was put back into place without the need for surgery. Sorensen was hurt trying to prevent Kalou putting Chelsea 2-0 up and was taken to hospital where the dislocation was treated successfully.
Although he will miss the remainder of the Potters' season, manager Tony Pulis believes Sorensen will have a chance of reaching South Africa. "If he had needed an operation, he'd have struggled to make the World Cup, but there is some encouraging news in that it was put back without the need for that," said Pulis.