John Terry believes Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez will find it hard to turn their crumbling season around because they lack Chelsea's strength in depth.
The Blues captain has been delighted with the way his team have coped in Europe without suspended striker Didier Drogba.
His replacements, Nicolas Anelka and Salomon Kalou, have responded with crucial goals as Chelsea have soared to the top of Champions League Group D.
Anelka scored winning goals in their opening two games against Porto and Apoel Nicosia while Kalou struck twice in the 4-0 demolition of Atletico Madrid on Wednesday night.
Terry reckons Chelsea's strength in reserve contrasts markedly with a Liverpool team which struggles when they are without Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres.
Liverpool have lost their last four games and could face Manchester United on Sunday without both key players, while Chelsea take on Blackburn at home tomorrow.
Asked if Benitez's men will be out of the title race if they lose to United, Terry replied: "I'm not sure, but when Stevie and Torres get injured they seem to be very short in the squad they've got.
"We're very fortunate at Chelsea. Since Roman Abramovich came we have had a lot of strength in depth in the squad, like with Salomon Kalou scoring twice against Atletico with Didier Drogba being out.
"People said we would struggle without Didier, but we didn't. If you take Torres out of their team, who do they bring in? It's difficult.
"We have players that are not here only to make up the numbers, but players that are fighting and working hard every day in training to come in and really prove themselves.
"Salomon seems to always come in and do well. Didier knows that the players behind him are working hard and wanting his place, the same goes for Nico. When Salomon comes in and does well, it gives the manager a real problem."
Meanwhile, midfielder Frank Lampard believes Manchester City could become the first club to break into the top four since Everton in 2005.
No team outside the traditional heavyweights have qualified for the Champions League since then but Lampard said: "I think it is more under threat this year with the emergence of Man City and the money they have got.
"Every year one of the Evertons, Villas or Tottenhams do very well and everyone says it is under threat but normally the four rise to the top.
"I think Man City will be different, I think they will stay the course. If you spend £150million then you should stay the course.
"We did the same here six years ago and it wasn't easy in year one. Year two and year three is where you really gauge progress and I am sure they are looking at the same things we were at that time.
"They have bought players who have been there before. Individually, if you look at them - Carlos Tevez, Kolo Toure and Emmanuel Adebayor - they have been in very successful teams before anyway so I don't think that it is the issue.
"It is just the idea of throwing it all together which is not always easy, but they can do it for sure."