Manchester United cannot afford to lose anymore games if they hope to retain their Premier League crown, according to Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard.
Lampard's comments, which will no doubt infuriate some United fans, come after Chelsea established an eight point lead over Sir Alex Ferguson's side in the standings following a weekend of results which saw United lose away to Arsenal and Chelsea beat Blackburn Rovers 2-0.
Although United still have a game in hand on the Blues, Lampard believes it is far easier to set the pace than try to catch up.
Lampard said: ''It is a nice gap for us. It is far from over, but in the last two years it's been the other way round. We've been five points behind them and it is not easy. When you are chasing, you really can't afford to lose games.
''It is certainly easier when you are making the pace, because the points give you a bit of security.''
Lampard insists that the win at Blackburn - which came in difficult conditions at Ewood Park on Sunday - was vital because it will put pressure on the chasing clubs - especially United and Arsenal.
Manchester United have lost twice in the Premier League so far this season, one defeat more than both Chelsea and Liverpool, but one less than Arsenal who have already lost three league fixtures.
He added: ''You have to remember Liverpool are neck and neck with us. But Man United and Arsenal, who are always big contenders, are those few points behind. It is not easy to chase, the pressure builds up and if you drop points you fall further behind.
''It's difficult either way, because the big four don't lose too many games or drop too many points. You certainly don't want to be too far behind at this point. We did it last year and we made a lot of ground up. But in the end we lost the title by two points, so it feels nice to be in the lead.''
Meanwhile, Chelsea chief executive Peter Kenyon has said the club are unlikely to bolster their squad in the January transfer window.
"[Buying players is] not high on the agenda. We have an agreed squad size of 24. We had that squad size at the beginning of the year. January is s notoriously bad time to buy players," Kenyon told the International Football Arena at FIFA headquarters on Monday.