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s credit to these players – particularly goalscorers Giroud and Alonso – that they had such an impact after coming in from the cold. But Lampard’s use of his squad and ability to adapt the way his side set up should earn the young manager plaudits, too.
All four of those players combined for Chelsea’s excellent second goal to underline the point.
A downbeat Mourinho listed Chelsea’s variety of attacking options in contrast to his own – “zero” – after the game but overlooked the facts – Lampard has a 38-year-old in goal, three wingers in the treatment room and his best midfielder, N’Golo Kante, out injured too.
Those issues and absences could well lead to Chelsea being outdone by Bayern Munich in the Champions League on Tuesday night. But domestically Chelsea are now back in a commanding position as they seek to qualify for that competition again next season.
And in a week when Lampard has faced up to managerial mind games, handled the pressure put upon him and come up with solutions to steer his side back on course, victory over Spurs could be an important moment in the apprentice’s development.
Such are the fine margins in football, determining whether Frank Lampard’s first season in charge of Chelsea has been a success is set to hinge entirely upon the crunch month ahead.
Chelsea currently occupy the fourth and final Champions League spot for next season, but their grasp has loosened in recent weeks with Sheffield United and Tottenham both closing the gap.
Lampard’s men face key fixtures over the next five weeks which will likely prove to be a defining period of their season with an FA Cup tie against Liverpool and a two-legged Champions League knockout showdown with Bayern Munich.
They will also play host to both Manchester teams, Everton and Tottenham to take on their former boss Jose Mourinho. There is no sugar coating it, it is simply make or break for Lampard and his young Chelsea side.
Up first on this testing run, Chelsea will welcome Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men to Stamford Bridge for a Monday night clash under the lights.
United don’t pose an immediate serious threat to their top-four ambitions although victory could see them move to within three points so it is an opportunity for Chelsea to give themselves some real breathing space.
Lampard’s men have been poor at home in recent times and have only won once at Stamford Bridge since December 4 – so he will be keen for his side to put an end to that run.
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