Frank Lampard declares it is now “crunch time” in Chelsea’s quest for the Premier League title as they look to extend their lead at the top of the table.
The 35-year-old England international knows that Jose Mourinho’s men can open up a nine-point gap over Manchester City in the next 10 days, with Manuel Pellegrini’s men playing Sunderland in the Capital One Cup final on Sunday and an FA Cup quarterfinal against Wigan the following weekend.
The Blues had a late John Terry goal to thank for scraping a 1-0 win over Everton last Saturday, but Lampard believes his side have now entered a period where points, and not performances, are the only thing that matters.
"It's tight and that would be a nice gap," he said. "It's crunch time where you have to develop a winning mentality that even if you play badly, you win.
"But our run since December has been fantastic in the league -- we have put ourselves right up in the race."
Lampard feels that the Premier League does not do enough to help teams competing in Europe in terms of recovery time, given that Chelsea face Fulham on Saturday after a 1-1 Champions League draw with Galatasaray on Wednesday.
The west London side returned from Turkey in the early hours of Thursday morning, but despite the possibility of fatigue setting in, the midfielder wants to make the most of the chance to claim the psychological edge over their title rivals.
"We don't expect any favours. It's about resting up and getting ready to go,” he continued.
"Other countries seem to look after teams representing them in the Champions League. I'm not sure we do so much here. I'm not trying to get one over on other Premier League teams -- it just seems a general rule.
"It would seem like using a bit of common sense if you are getting home at 6am like I am. We could have done with Fulham being on a Sunday. But you don't get too many favours considering the journey we have had."
The Blues lead Arsenal by a point in the Premier League with 60 points after 27 games, though Manchester City are three points behind with a game in hand over Mourinho’s side and have a superior goal difference.