Frank Lampard said yesterday that he believed Chelsea had got "under the skin" of the Arsenal manager, Arsène Wenger, and that the players had laughed off suggestions that they were a long-ball team.
The 27-year-old midfielder also said he had no interest in trying to beat Arsenal's record of 49 unbeaten Premiership matches, declaring that what mattered was winning trophies. Lampard also said he was unlikely to ever move abroad because "I don't really see where I could go for more chance of success" than at Chelsea.
There had been suggestions from Wenger, both before and after the Community Shield match between the clubs last weekend, that Chelsea merely profited from long balls to the striker Didier Drogba. The criticism first surfaced following last season's Champions' League victory over Bayern Munich.
But Lampard said: "There are two things you can talk about. There's the long-ball game as in the old Wimbledon or you can talk about a team that can mix it up, that plays very good football and plays a long ball with quality. I don't think that by playing a long ball we are showing a lack of quality. We are showing a different quality and that's one of our strengths."
At the same time, Lampard, the current Footballer of the Year and Chelsea's top scorer last season, said he understood why Chelsea were unpopular. "It comes from maybe the funds we have," Lampard said. "I can understand that, we have a lot more money to spend and some teams have nowhere near that amount. It puts people's back up. But it's something we also have to use to make the spirit in the camp even stronger. Every little bit of criticism you get, you use to make you stronger, and we get it from a lot of angles now. We hope to answer it all with success."
He said there was no lack of motivation in the squad and disputed claims that last year's title had been bought. "We feel very strongly that we worked very hard, put the hours in and that's what made a difference," he said.
Lampard's own ambition, too, is clear. "I don't just want one championship medal, I don't just want one player of the year. I want a few," he said. "Also I want Champions' League success. I'm just trying to take last season as a starting point and keep that level."
Lampard said it was "very frustrating" to have lost in the semi-finals of the European Cup in the last two seasons "because you go such a long way to get there and then fall at the last hurdle. We want to do it. We know it will be very difficult but it's a big aim. People ask me all the time whether I would prefer to win the Premier League or the Champions' League but I could never call it".
Lampard, who was speaking at the launch of Orange's Fantasy Football League for the mobile phone, said it would be a "tall order" for Chelsea to emulate the feats of the Liverpool team of the late Seventies and Eighties or the Milan team of a decade ago. "Liverpool constantly for more than a decade dominated their domestic league," he said. "We've dominated ours for one year. But we want to do it for a long period of time. We definitely feel we have the potential to do that because we have such a young squad and the funds to back it up. But the players are very young and hungry and our aim is to put our name up there with those teams."
However, there was little desire he said to emulate Arsenal's unbeaten run. "I don't think records are that important," he said. "They are very nice but for me the things that stick in people's minds are winning championships. Last season we didn't match Arsenal's run but, on the other hand, we ended up with a lot more points than them."
Lampard said he felt his own future lay at Chelsea. "I do like watching European football. I really enjoy it," Lampard said. "When I was younger it was definitely something that I had an open mind to do. The thing that changed that was being at this club. There is so much potential for success," he added.Reuse content