Lampard: Don't write off old guard
Frank Lampard insists the spine of the team which has brought Chelsea so much success during the past decade is still crucial to their chances of glory during the modern era.
Lampard is one of the senior players who is no longer a definite for the first team under Andre Villas-Boas. He responded to a rare start against Wolves on Monday night with a late winner which pushed the Blues back into a UEFA Champions League spot. But that is the minimum requirement for Chelsea in Lampard's eyes and admits he has "got the hump" with their failure to challenge for title honours this season.
Lampard said: "The spine of the team is what's made us what we are over the past seven years. We need those big players like John Terry who was magnificent at the back against Wolves. I think it's important whether [or not] we're changing the team.
"Of course, I understand that things change with time. But what we're about is that spine to an extent. It's nice to see big players who've been there a long time producing the goods."
Chelsea went into the New Year outside of the top four for the first time in 10 years before the win at Molineux - and Arsenal's defeat at Fulham - saw the positions of the two clubs reversed.
Lampard said: "I get the hump looking at the table and seeing we're not fighting within a point or two of the leadership. We all have to have the hump with that and make sure we react.
"The players in this squad need to be fighting for the League, and now there's a big gap. You have to have that mindset, because the minute you lose that mindset, that's the minute you become a top-four team as opposed to a team that's challenging for the title."
Lampard added: "Champions League football is a bare minimum. We've been involved in it for a long time.
"With the squad we've amassed and the talent in this dressing room, it's been a gimme for the last seven or eight years when we've also been fighting for titles. There's no way we can drop that standard. That has to stay at the club."
Blues still in title hunt
Lampard, who scored his ninth goal of the campaign against Wolves, refuses to write off Chelsea's hopes of a late push to be amongst the title contenders. He said: "There is a long way to go but, seeing the results that have happened over the past few days, you have to be aware that it can happen.
"I hate to write it off. You have to be realistic and it would be a very big feat to do it. But last year we were a long way behind but came back to have a chance of winning the league with three games to go when we lost to Manchester United. You have to keep that mindset."
Lampard also believes striker Fernando Torres, who looked lively in a rare start against Mick McCarthy's side, will benefit from more regular football. He said: "Fernando played well. He looked very sharp. It's not been easy for him. He hasn't been playing that much.
"It's not easy for him and you need that edge. But when you're not playing it's difficult. But he showed a lot of glimpses of what he's all about. Sometimes strikers don't score but you can see that sharpness in them and you're waiting for the goal to come."
As for his own future, Lampard remains committed to Chelsea despite slipping down the pecking order. He said: "I'm very committed. I'll always stay completely behind the cause of Chelsea because that's me now. Chelsea's my club."