Chelsea will be crowned champions on Sunday as they fly home from Liverpool should they win at Anfield and Manchester United lose at Sunderland a couple of hours later. It is a far cry from the situation a little over a month ago, when the team seemed to be on the verge of imploding.
Jose Mourinho's Internazionale won both legs of their Champions League knockout tie, between those fixtures Chelsea lost 4-2 at home to Manchester City and then straight after they drew 1-1 with Blackburn. The wobble was cured by convincing victories over Portsmouth and Aston Villa and midfielder Frank Lampard now concedes that the pundits who then criticised Chelsea's lack of hunger were probably right.
"Maybe they looked at us at that time and thought that we were not quite at it and they were probably right," Lampard said after Sunday's 7-0 demolition of Stoke City. "It's only us in the camp that have turned it around so yes, maybe we have shown we have got hunger in that way."
Anfield holds many bitter memories for Chelsea in recent years. Since Roman Abramovich bought the club in 2003 Chelsea have played 11 times there and can boast a decent record with four wins, four defeats and three draws. However, two of those defeats were 1-0 scorelines in the semi-final second legs of the Champions League in 2005 and 2007, the second of which Liverpool won on penalties.
Chelsea winning at Anfield this Sunday would go some way towards removing the pain of those two defeats. Lampard however does not believe the possibility that victory for Liverpool might hand the title to Manchester United will enter the players' heads. "They will go out to win the game," he said. "The manager's professional, the players are professional. There's no way they will think about anything else other than winning the game regardless of whether it gets them into the Champions League for next year or not."
Salomon Kalou, who recorded his first hat-trick for the club on Sunday, said that only another performance of similar intensity will be enough at Liverpool, particularly as Chelsea lost their last away game, 2-1 to Tottenham.
"We have to go there and take the game to them because I feel that at Tottenham we let them play," he said. "We let them get comfortable with the ball. We have to go to Liverpool and play differently. Keep the ball, try to play our own game and not let Liverpool take the game because they are really good at that. The message is that we can go to Anfield and get three points. If you want to be champions you have to go these kinds of places and bring back the title."Reuse content