With Chelsea in an intense battle for a Champions League spot for next season, manager Frank Lampard has warned his team that it is all in their hands not to slip up at the crucial moments.

Speaking yesterday ahead of today’s Premier League trip to Crystal Palace, the 42-year-old said: “It (pressure) ramps up game by game. I enjoy it. That’s what we’re in it for, what it’s all about.

“The position we’re in means a lot is in our own hands. That’s the main thing. We need to get everything right that we can control. We need to handle the pressure.”

The Blues are in fourth place on 57 points, two above Manchester United and just one behind Leicester, who travel to Arsenal today.

With five games left and all to play for, the pressure is high, especially with a tight schedule.

But the positive thing about having back-to-back matches is that teams can bounce back quickly and not risk losing momentum.

The Blues have demonstrated just that, winning 3-0 at Watford on Saturday following a surprise 3-2 defeat at West Ham last Wednesday.

Lampard’s men were on a three-match winning run in all competitions following the coronavirus hiatus, and barring the West Ham loss, they are showing the consistency they need to finish in the top four.

When asked about “bouncing back”, the Chelsea boss said: “Not sure we were off track…

“Palace are a good team, very organised defensively. I want us to approach that game in the right way.”

He also praised Christian Pulisic, 21, as one to watch after the American forward scored two goals in his last four league games. But he stopped short of comparing him to former Chelsea star Eden Hazard.

“(Hazard) had a special talent straight away of being able to receive a ball and have great balance and go past players so well. He would draw a lot of players towards him to open up space for others,” he said. “Christian is more direct at times, which I like. He has an ability to break the line and run forward.

“In terms of comparison, I stay away because Eden has been here and done it. Christian has it in his hands to make a real impact over time.”

Palace, in 14th, have lost their last three games without scoring. This comes after a run of four wins without conceding.

“Chelsea looked good before the break and continued that after,” said manager Roy Hodgson.

“It would be a very difficult game. All we can do is prepare. We’ll do our best to make life difficult for them.”

Palace have no fresh injuries while Chelsea are missing Mateo Kovacic, Fikayo Tomori and N’Golo Kante, who picked up a hamstring injury in the Watford game.

Jorginho, who was on the bench for Chelsea’s past four games, could take Kante’s place today.

Lampard said: “He has been professional, he wants to play, he always trains well. We’ll see about my selection tomorrow.”

-The Straits Times

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