Frank Lampard expects Chelsea to qualify for Champions League
Midfielder on verge of club goalscoring record
Monday 29 April 2013
Frank Lampard is confident Chelsea will secure a return to the Champions League next season at the end of another turbulent campaign at Stamford Bridge.
The 34-year-old midfielder's 201st Chelsea goal - a penalty which saw him move within one of the watching Bobby Tambling's club goalscoring record - completed a 2-0 victory over Swansea yesterday to take last season's Champions League winners to third in the Barclays Premier League.
Lampard is out of contract at the end of the season and has five games remaining - six if Chelsea advance to the Europa League final by beating Basle on Thursday night - to surpass Tambling's mark.
But the England international is focused on collective, rather than personal glory.
"What's more important is for the club to qualify for next season's Champions League, and we've also got a Europa League final to try to get to and win," Lampard told Chelsea TV.
"That's why [the Swansea win] was crucial, and so is Manchester United next week.
"If we can keep our rhythm with the way we're playing and stay positive, the big games that are coming we need to try and win.
"If we don't it will go to the wire, but I believe we've got the strong-minded players to go and do it."
Chelsea play Manchester United, Tottenham, Aston Villa and Everton in their remaining four league games and currently hold a one-point lead over fourth-placed Arsenal, having played a game fewer, and a three-point advantage over Spurs.
Lampard began the Swansea contest on the bench, but came on for dead-leg victim Ramires midway through the first half, set up Oscar's opener and converted a penalty for his first goal in eight appearances.
As well as drawing him closer to Tambling's tally, Lampard celebrated his 400th Chelsea appearance in the Premier League and 800th career appearance by becoming only the second player, alongside Andy Cole, to score against 38 different teams in the Premier League.
Lampard, who paid tribute to Tambling, was relieved to net the spot-kick after failing to score a penalty at Manchester City in February.
"I missed the last one against Manchester City, so you think about it a bit more, but I felt I'd score because of the momentum of coming on when the game started to change," he said.
Lampard's inclusion injected much-needed impetus into Chelsea's play, while Gary Cahill performed well on his return from minor knee surgery alongside John Terry, who started back-to-back matches for the first time since February.
The former Bolton defender suffered the injury against West Ham, on the day Lampard brought up his double century.
Cahill told Chelsea TV: "It's great to be back now.
"It's been three weeks since the surgery, so it's been a great turnaround.
"I felt good. I've done a lot of hard work in the past couple of weeks and that's paid off. It feels strong, it feels good."
Cahill felt Chelsea needed to make amends for their Capital One Cup semi-final loss to Swansea and enhance their bid for a return to the Champions League.
"We have to push for third," he said.
"It's put us in a good position at this moment in time.
"We needed to win, because I felt over two legs we didn't give a good account of ourselves. We owed them one."
One of Swansea's substitutes enjoyed his afternoon almost as much as Lampard.
Wales left-back Neil Taylor came off the bench for his first appearance since breaking his ankle against Sunderland last September.
"I'm just glad to be back," he said on http://www.swanseacity.net.
"I'm always ready and hoping to get on, but with how the game was balanced the manager realised he could give me an opportunity.
"I have another hard week of training ahead for me. The end of the season is coming quickly, but I don't want it to end."
Capital One Cup winners Swansea, now winless in six, next face deposed 2011-12 champions Manchester City at the Liberty Stadium, with Taylor keen to feature.
"It's not an easy run-in at all, but we're at home and we want to get a result badly for our fans," he added.
"It's going to be difficult but we need to get something to stop the rot.
"I'm hoping, too, that I can possibly get the chance to play in front of our fans at home too, which would be great."
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