Frank Lampard believes it is unlikely that Chelsea will qualify for next season's Champions League if they do not win the final of this year's competition in Munich next month.
Lampard and his Blues team-mates made securing Champions League football next season their priority since new boss Roberto Di Matteo took over from Andre Villas-Boas in March. However, in a surprising twist, Chelsea are now closer to doing so via the competition itself than by finishing in the Premier League top four, having slipped four points off the last qualification spot with four league games remaining.
"By the time of the [Champions League final] game, that'll be too late," Lampard said. "So, if we don't win it and we're not fourth...
"We're on a decent run of performances for sure, but the last thing we want to do now is lower our standards in between. We need to keep this roll going."
Chelsea reached this season's Champions League decider after edging out Barcelona 3-2 on aggregate. Lampard, who was largely unused under Villas-Boas, insists he and his fellow veterans now have the perfect opportunity to silence their critics for good by claiming the title at the Allianz Arena.
"I think [the win over Barca is] one of the biggest performances an English club has had," Lampard said. "They could've gone on and bashed us five or six nil.
"We've got everything to show. That's what makes us top players, that what makes Didier Drogba a top player. He gets written off, comes back and scores goals that get us to this point, and I feel the same.
"I try to do everything to always prove [myself] and I'm very proud of what I've done in my career. I don't feel like I'm on my last legs, regardless, and I'll keep trying to show that every game."
"People probably watched us two or three weeks ago against Wigan and Fulham and thought maybe we were on our last legs then a little bit. But you can't knock this team down - we'll keep coming back."