Chelsea retain title hopes says Frank Lampard

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The Independent Online

Frank Lampard claims Chelsea can follow their dramatic turnaround against Manchester United with a sensational comeback in the Barclays Premier League title race.

But the England midfielder warned his team-mates last night's 2-1 victory at Stamford Bridge would "mean nothing" if they did not now go on a winning run.

Chelsea dented United's hopes of deposing them as champions and kept their own paper-thin hopes of retaining their crown alive after coming from behind at Stamford Bridge yesterday.

The controversial win moved them back into the top four and cut the gap to their opponents to 12 points.

They also have a game in hand against a United side they meet again at Old Trafford in May and who still have to travel to Liverpool - on Sunday - and closest challengers Arsenal.

Lampard, who scored the winner from the penalty spot last night, refused to get carried away with the victory, which is arguably of more value to the Gunners than it is to the champions.

But the midfielder said: "Does this victory help Arsenal win the title? If Arsenal keep winning, but that's not a given either.

"United have enough experience to know it is a marathon and there is a long way to go. But we don't really care about anyone else.

"If we keep winning all our games, we'll be in with a shout.

"It was important for ourselves to win this for our own confidence but there is still a big gap between ourselves and United.

"Statements don't matter unless they're backed up. We need to go on from here.

"We normally go on a late run at this time of the season and that is what we hope to do now.

"If we don't get a result in our next game, against Blackpool, then this will mean nothing.

"The old cliche of every game as it comes has never been so important for us. We can't get ahead of ourselves.

"We usually put a run of wins together but we haven't done it so far this season. It is something we need to do now to give us a chance.

"It was important to win a big match again and, in the second half, there was a little of the old Chelsea in there, you could see the power in the team, the commitment and the strength.

"We can play much better. There were times at the end of last season and the beginning of this that our football was top drawer.

"It was probably as good, if not better, than anyone else in Europe.

"Lately, we haven't been playing like that but we can get back to those high levels."

To do that, Chelsea will need all their players to be pulling in the same direction.

There had been reports in the build-up to last night's game that Didier Drogba was sulking over losing his place in the side to Fernando Torres.

But Lampard insists that could not be further from the truth, saying: "His reaction to losing his place has been brilliant and it is a load of nonsense when people say he has the hump. It has been far from that.

"He has been getting behind the lads, telling us to come on.

"He has trained with commitment and played with commitment as a substitute. It is nonsense to say he is sulking."

Drogba came off the bench to good effect yesterday, partnering Torres in place of Nicolas Anelka.

Lampard said: "To have those three strikers at the club is huge for us in the final months of the season. They are three of the best in the world."

Lampard also hailed the performance of Ashley Cole, which came just days after it emerged he had accidentally shot an intern, and who was arguably lucky to avoid a suspension by his club.

"Ashley plays brilliantly every game," Lampard said.

"That's why he is the best left-back in the world."

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