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Apr 7, 2009

Malouda: Lampard is better than Gerrard

Chelsea winger Florent Malouda has claimed that team-mate Frank Lampard, rather than Liverpool's Steven Gerrard, is currently the best midfielder in English football.

The Frenchman hailed Lampard and his predatory instincts as they prepare to face the Reds in the Champions League quarter-finals on Wednesday night.

"Who is the best midfielder in the Premier League? For me it is my mate, Frank Lampard. I would never say Steven Gerrard," Malouda declared. "Frank is so special because he is always focused on the opposition goal. He is always running and full of energy.

"But his game is not just about scoring goals. He comes from deep positions and that is why it is very difficult to keep him quiet.

"He is always moving and always seems to score. He is running midfield but seems to have the mentality of a striker. He is never happy if he doesn't score."

Lampard warmed up for Liverpool with his 17th goal of the season against Newcastle and Malouda claims the midfielder can be the difference in the game.

"The ball came off the crossbar against Newcastle and he was there and scored such an important goal for us," the former Lyon player added. "Against Liverpool last season in the Champions League semi-final he was really important for us. He is full of confidence and his freedom to play can make the difference.

"That fight with Gerrard will be one of the keys but it won't be the only battle out there. Against Liverpool every player has to make the difference but the game coming up is very exciting.

"We have to put every challenge in and show a lot of discipline. It will be really tight because there are world class players in every position. We have to keep our discipline in both games and that will get us through."

Malouda insisted the Chelsea team Liverpool face will be a different proposition to the one beaten twice already this term during Luiz Felipe Scolari's ill-fated reign thanks to the stewardship of Guus Hiddink, even if striker Didier Drogba fails to recover in time from a jarred ankle.

"It is never easy to play against Liverpool but something has changed to our team since the two games we played against them earlier this season," Malouda said. "What has changed with us is the confidence and the discipline we are showing. Our top, key players are now more confident. We saw that when we played away at Anfield in our last game there.

"The final five minutes were difficult to take as they scored two goals but we are much more confident going there now and our game is in much better shape.

"We have to convert our confidence on the pitch into a win. We know it is always tight when you play against them and this will be no different." Malouda continued: "There is a lot of quality in the squad and the manager gives us a lot of confidence even when we have bad results and he tells us to play to our qualities.

"We want to win all three trophies this season. In the league it is going to be difficult. But in the FA Cup and Champions League we have got that in our minds and that is our ambition.

"We have a lot of great games between now and the end of the season. The squad is now nearly fully fit and it is always great when there is a lot of competition for places."

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