Frank Lampard has again dismissed suggestions Chelsea have the strongest squad in the Premier League because his side have yet to win anything.
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp labelled the Blues as favourites to win the title earlier this month on the back of a huge off-season spending spree totalling more than £200million.
Chelsea were top of the table at the time and unbeaten in 13 matches in all competitions, but they have since lost 1-0 to Everton to slip down to fifth, three points off the summit.
And Lampard is not buying into claims that he has the deepest squad in the division.
“I just don’t see it. I’m not talking down my squad by saying that,” he said.
“Some of the people saying we have the strongest squad were the same people saying we’re no good when we drew 3-3 with West Brom and drew with Southampton.
Refreshed and ready for tomorrow nightpic.twitter.com/aaEIfUE9Rj
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) December 14, 2020
“The tide has turned quickly. The conversation is pretty irrelevant anyway because it’s only what we do on the pitch that matters.
“But I look around and see strong squads that have been winning things over the last few years and are stable.
“People maybe want to look at the price tag, but some of those are younger players coming to this division to play for the first time and will need time.
“This squad will [improve] and is improving. Strong squads will only be referred to when they win something. When I look around, there are other strong squads, ones that can have the best players in the world sitting on the bench.
“Teams with Champions League winners sitting on their bench. We are not at that level yet.”
Chelsea have dropped points in half of their 12 games this term but are within touching distance of first place, with Tottenham and Liverpool – the top two – meeting on Wednesday.
The Reds were held by Fulham on Sunday and have already dropped 11 points this term – as many as they lost in their first 35 games in last term’s title-winning campaign.
Lampard acknowledges a far lower points tally will be enough to win the title this term and hopes Chelsea can be in the mix come the business end of proceedings.
“That’s where we’re at this season,” he said. “We felt it first hand against Everton – they’ve got good players, invested well, good manager, well organised and made it difficult.
“Watching the games on Sunday, you could see that all over the place. The league is getting tighter, teams are strengthening and becoming well organised.
“I felt our preparations coming into the season were the difference. We’ve already lost points we normally wouldn’t have.
11 – Liverpool have now dropped 11 points after 12 @premierleague games this season (W7 D4 L1) – the Reds only dropped 15 in the whole of their title winning campaign last year, with it taking until their 35th match in 2019-20 to lose as many as 11 points. Adjustment. #FULLIV pic.twitter.com/xRmPXDNqIx
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 13, 2020
“Everyone will feel that and the total number of points will be fewer. We have to make sure we maintain our levels and improve.”
Chelsea head to Wolves on Tuesday aiming to avoid back-to-back Premier League defeats for the first time since December 2019, the first of which was away at Everton.
Only against Liverpool (10) have Wolves lost more times in the competition than they have versus Chelsea (nine), and they enter the game on the back of successive losses without scoring since Raul Jimenez sustained a horror skull fracture against Arsenal.
The Mexico striker returned to the club’s training ground last week, though, and Lampard – who witnessed ex-team-mate Petr Cech suffer a similar injury during his playing days – expects Wolves to be lifted for their midweek clash.
“I saw Jimenez back at the training ground in the week and that will almost galvanise the group and give them strength,” he said.
“Team-mates worry about injuries anyway – it’s difficult when you’re ruled out – and even more so in this case when it is threatening to your health.
“So I think it will make them stronger but they’re missing a great player at the same time. It’s a difficult situation, one I don’t like to see. I’d rather play Wolves with a fit and healthy Jimenez because he’s a great player.”