Chelsea head coach Frank Lampard wants his players to embrace the pressure of trying to qualify for the Champions League in their Premier League battle with in-form Manchester United.

Lampard's Chelsea moved back into the top four with a 3-0 win over Watford after United had briefly leapfrogged them following a 5-2 thrashing of Bournemouth earlier on Saturday.

Chelsea are fourth in the table, two points clear of United with five matches remaining in the Premier League, as the top-four race goes down to the wire.

And Lampard told his players to ignore United, who have gone 16 matches without defeat across all competitions, after bouncing back from Wednesday's shock 3-2 loss at West Ham.

"I think every game is going to be pressure now," Lampard told reporters. "West Ham was pressure because we knew we could go third. It's a different kind of pressure but it's still the same in how you focus on the game and job at hand.

"You cannot get too caught up in what everyone does at the moment. We did that tonight. There was no nonsense. The mentality was right. We started brightly and we carried on and got the small details of the game right at both ends of the pitch, which I was happy with."

"It is not a comparison to get too caught up in," Lampard said. "They are a very good team; we know that. The individuals that they have, the squad, the coaches that they have. We can only respect that.

"I watched their game early and with the individual quality when you look across their frontline you see two players on 20 goals and Mason Greenwood doing what he is doing scoring regularly.

"[Bruno] Fernandes and [Paul] Pogba in midfield, the signing of Harry Maguire. They are a really strong outfit. We know that and the fact we are two points ahead we have to be happy about.

"We know it is going to be contested right until the end of the season with the form that they are in. With respect to Manchester United and the teams around us, we have to focus on ourselves and try to keep picking up results. That will be the main importance to us."

Olivier Giroud, Willian and Ross Barkley were on target for Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.

However, midfielder N'Golo Kante suffered a hamstring injury in the win after he was withdrawn with 12 minutes remaining in London.

Lampard, who insisted Jorginho remains part of his plans despite finding himself out of the line-up, added: "N'Golo has got a small hamstring [injury] which we'll have to scan tomorrow [Sunday] and see how bad it is.

"We hope it's small, that's what I've been told so far. After the scan we'll know but I'm guessing it'll be a problem for [Crystal] Palace on Tuesday."

Lampard also heaped praise on goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga, who has been linked with a return to LaLiga, after the former Athletic Bilbao star produced an agile save to thwart Danny Welbeck.

"I am pleased for him and the back four in front of him as well because I thought we defended pretty well when we needed to," Lampard said. "But the moment when we slipped and they got in; he made a really good save.

"That's what you want from your goalkeeper, you want them to make those saves and stay alert. It will be good for his confidence along with the clean sheet as well."

Frank Lampard was full of praise for Christian Pulisic after Chelsea cruised to a 3-0 victory over Watford to regain fourth place in the Premier League. 

Big-money signing Pulisic has taken his game to another level since the season resumed last month and caused the Hornets all sorts of problems at Stamford Bridge. 

Goals from Olivier Giroud, Willian and Ross Barkley moved the Blues back into the top four after Manchester United had briefly leapfrogged them with a 5-2 thrashing of Bournemouth earlier on Saturday. 

Lampard was not keen on comparing Pulisic to former Chelsea forward Hazard but is delighted with the progress the United States international is making after overcoming the injury issues that blighted him earlier in the campaign. 

Asked by Sky Sports about Pulisic and his similarities to Hazard, Lampard replied: "They can both go by players and are great to watch. Eden did it here and was sensational. 

"I don't want to quite get on that comparison, but at the same stage I don't want to take anything away from Christian. What he's showing is a real natural ability, a balance, speed to dribble with the ball. 

"The next step for him is a better end product, more goals, more assists. But since the restart, he's already shown that, which is great. 

"He’s had injury problems this season but he’s a good one, a really good one. I'm very happy with him." 

Lampard was impressed with the way his players responded to a 3-2 London derby loss at West Ham in midweek. 

"We have to accept that pressure. Before West Ham we could have gone third and we let ourselves down," said the former Derby County boss. 

"Today there was a bit of pressure to get back into fourth and we produced. We have to get used to that pressure, whatever way it looks, because it's going to be tough all the way through." 

Willian has done enough to earn a new contract at Chelsea, according to head coach Frank Lampard.

Experienced winger Willian agreed to remain with the Blues until the end of the Premier League campaign, with his deal having been due to expire last week.

The Brazil international, who turns 32 in August, has scored three times and set one up in his four appearances since the season resumed following its three-month suspension amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Lampard remains hopeful Chelsea can reach a resolution with Willian to keep him at Stamford Bridge.

"I haven't given up hope on it, the club are still in discussions with him," said Lampard.

"We want him to stay at the club but I also appreciate the fact this contract for Willian is a big deal because of his age and where he's at, I've been there before myself and I respect that.

"But the way he's playing at the minute I think shows his worth to the squad and the group. It's something I hope we can get to.

"Whatever way [it goes] with Willian, he's been a great servant to the club and if we can get it I'll be happy, if not I'll wish him well because I've got a lot of time for him as a player and in the short term we can see what he's doing for us. It's ongoing is the short answer."

Saturday's meeting with Watford will mark a year since Lampard took over Chelsea amid a transfer embargo and with Eden Hazard having departed for Real Madrid.

The fourth-placed Blues are on course to qualify for the Champions League, which Lampard feels would be a significant feat given the circumstances.

However, he acknowledged they will be expected to kick on next season.

"I don't want to measure ourselves against other clubs, we all have our own issues. The expectation [was low] at the start of the season – and quite rightly, even myself I'm a realist and coming in knowing we'd lost Eden and the input he had individually at the club alone was huge and how do we work around that," said Lampard.

"I think we've found good ways to work around it with development of the youth, the performances of some of the senior players, the way we're trying to play.

"We're nowhere near the finished article but [with] some of the style of play stuff we've found really good levels at times.

"We're going up against two of the best club teams in the world [next season] … so we may find that the curve looks slightly different. We have to fight against that and try to close the gap as quickly as we can, in whatever way we can.

"I'm pretty pleased and I'm always a perfectionist and want more, but it means nothing if we don't finish off the season well.

"So these next games until the end of the season are huge for us to try to say we're pleased at the end of the season, because if we get in the Champions League spots of course I'll be very, very pleased."

Chelsea need someone that can have the same impact on their effectiveness at set-pieces as Virgil van Dijk did at Liverpool, says Frank Lampard.

The Blues twice saw Tomas Soucek put the ball in the net from corners during a 3-2 loss to West Ham on Wednesday, though his first was disallowed due to a contentious offside decision following a VAR review.

Lampard acknowledges dead-ball situations represent one of the Blues' biggest weaknesses and feels it is something they should take into account when assessing transfer targets.

The Chelsea head coach pointed to Liverpool's improvement from set-pieces after they signed Van Dijk, a figure who has been pivotal in their ascent to becoming Premier League champions.

"We've looked at set-plays this season. When we came into the club, we looked at the stats from last season and we were bottom of the league in defending set-plays, in terms of other teams getting big chances against us, we were second-bottom in attacking," said Lampard ahead of Saturday's Premier League meeting with Watford.

"If you look at personnel, and I don't like to talk about my playing days, but we didn't really work so much on set-pieces at all really - with certain managers more than others. There were probably a few reasons why and they were mainly John Terry, Gary Cahill, Didier Drogba, Michael Ballack and [Branislav] Ivanovic, so you stick it in an area and they defend it or they score goals.

"I think similarly with Liverpool, there was a lot of talk about them with set-pieces two or three seasons ago, they were zonal, they were conceding a lot.

"They signed Virgil van Dijk and he heads everything that comes in the box out, so there's a huge relation to personnel and if you don't have that in terms of big size across the team, I think trying to compete as hard as you can, making it difficult for other teams to score is the main thing.

"And there's no doubt – I'm not making excuses when I say that because we've not done this well enough on the pitch, and that has to improve – when you look at who you might bring in, with the balance of the squad, in the modern day its certainly something to take into account when looking at recruitment."

Chelsea made Kepa Arrizabalaga their record signing and the most expensive goalkeeper in the world by paying the £71.6million (€80m) release clause in his Athletic Bilbao contract in 2018.

Lampard dropped Kepa for Willy Caballero earlier this season and reports of interest from Spain intensified after the 25-year-old put in another disappointing display against West Ham.

Asked about the rumours linking the keeper with a move away, the Blues boss said: "I'm not talking about any potential [deals], what we may do at the end of the season or not. I'm going to focus on what we've got in front of us.

"With Kepa, there's been a lot spoken about him this season. All I want from him, as with every player, is the right mentality and attitude and approach to the game – I'm absolutely certain I'm going to get that from all of them because I can feel the group is in that position – and obviously to just try to do his job as well as he can do.

"I'm happy with him and that's how we keep working. I'm not going to talk about what may be at the end of the season."

Mateo Kovacic could miss Chelsea's next two games with an Achilles injury sustained against West Ham, Frank Lampard has revealed. 

Croatia international Kovacic went off in the 53rd minute of Chelsea's 3-2 loss to struggling West Ham at London Stadium on Wednesday. 

The defeat was a blow to Chelsea's hopes of securing Champions League qualification and Lampard confirmed they will be without Kovacic when they attempt to get back on track against Watford at Stamford Bridge on Saturday. 

Fikayo Tomori will also be absent as he continues to recover from a muscle injury. 

"Fikayo is still not fit. He's hopefully going be training with us somewhere through next week," said Lampard. 

"He's doing a lot of work, it's just the last bit to get him on the training pitch that's been a bit tough. 

"Kovacic is going to be out, he hurt his Achilles during the West Ham game and will miss this one and possibly the one after that. Hopefully it won't be too long after that." 

Marcos Alonso was heavily criticised by Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville during the coverage of the game for failing to track back for Andriy Yarmolenko's 89th-minute winner. 

While Lampard accepted the left-back could have done more, he has not spoken to Alonso about the incident. 

"It's not important with isolated 'slatings' – it's much easier to comment from afar," said Lampard. 

"We do try to play football, we're trying to be progressive but we don't want to concede. Recovery runs are a huge part of football and the players must do them whether it's the first or 90th minute. 

"I don't think it's quite fair to just look at Marcos. In that isolated incident yes, he can recover better and we can recover better as a team. 

"But that has to be fundamental to the team. You have to run backwards as much as you run fast forwards and you have to have that desire to make difficult runs to help the team. I can't complain about the team about that this year. 

"When you isolate one goal that's so crucial because it wins the points, fair enough. But I know with my players that generally we have a desire to press very well off the ball and when it goes beyond us to recover and get there. 

"It was a game where we slipped up, and it's not just that mistake, there were other mistakes, and we lost the game for it." 

He added: "I haven't spoken to him about it. I think it's a dangerous game to comment on every pundit, because you'd probably have to talk to all your players every week and that's the nature of the beast. 

"If I felt a player needed help or support in those situations I would do. We as players and myself in my job are probably the biggest self-critics, we analyse games, we go over them and talk to the players individual and collectively, and that's my main focus, not so much what comes from outside." 

Frank Lampard insisted Chelsea have a lot of hard work ahead to reach the level of Premier League champions Liverpool and Manchester City following their shock loss at lowly West Ham.

Chelsea suffered a surprise 3-2 defeat to West Ham, who moved three points clear of the relegation zone thanks to Andriy Yarmolenko's 89th-minute winner at the London Stadium.

Willian's brace was not enough for Chelsea to secure at least a point away from home – the result ending the club's six-game unbeaten streak in all competitions.

Chelsea remain fourth in the table, just two points clear of in-form Manchester United and Wolves with six matches remaining in the race for Champions League qualification.

Asked if he was concerned that Chelsea had a mental issue following their inconsistent form in 2019-20, head coach Lampard told reporters: "It's something that has happened a few times this season.

"We've had opportunities to close gaps and jump over teams because of other results or whatever situation.

"But we haven't done it and that's a sign of where we are. We know we have a lot of hard work to do to get where we want to be and the reason the rest of us are chasing Liverpool and Man City is because of the consistency that develops over time. That's what we have to work towards.

"It's obviously frustrating but if we're in that position it's how you bounce back, how you move forward. We have Watford now at the weekend and games after that to try and carry on.

"We have to realise the position we are in in terms of fighting for the Champions League places and move forward."

While Chelsea – who will welcome relegation-threatened Watford to Stamford Bridge on Saturday – lost their 10th game of the campaign, Christian Pulisic was a shining light against West Ham midweek.

Pulisic earned the 42nd-minute penalty which Willian converted before winning the free-kick that was also put away by his Brazilian team-mate with 18 minutes remaining.

"A big positive," Lampard said. "He's playing really well, as we can all see. Him and Willian as well. Willian gets his two goals. But with Christian I think it's more like earlier in the season when he had a patch in the run up to Christmas where he was playing towards his level.

"Then he got injured and has been out for a long time. It's nice to see him back, fresh and hungry, and playing with the quality he has. He's a young player with great talent."

Chelsea head coach Frank Lampard lamented his team's inconsistency and errors after suffering a surprise loss at West Ham in the Premier League, which opened the door for rivals Manchester United and Wolves.

Andriy Yarmolenko came off the bench and scored the 89th-minute winner as West Ham stunned London rivals Chelsea 3-2 on Wednesday.

Willian had netted a brace with a wonderful free-kick 18 minutes from the end to restore parity after Tomas Soucek and Michail Antonio had put West Ham ahead following the Chelsea star's 42nd-minute penalty.

But Yarmolenko's last-gasp goal lifted West Ham three points above the relegation zone, while ending Chelsea's six-game unbeaten streak in all competitions.

The result left Chelsea just two points clear of in-form United and Wolves in fourth position – the final Champions League spot – with six matches remaining.

Lampard vented his frustration afterwards, insisting Chelsea should have won at the London Stadium.

"It's the story of our season," Lampard told Sky Sports. "It's been a good season but there have been so many of these moments. We had an opportunity today to go through but you have to do every part of the game to get results.

"If you switch off or make one or two errors then you will encourage teams. Players have to show an extra mentality to get through these games.

"I get to see this group closely and I've seen us play great games then have moments where there's the opportunity to capitalise and that's the difference at the moment. We have work to do.

"There's without a doubt a good group of players in there but then when you analyse the consistency, you feel a game like this is coming. Again, that shows there's work to do.

"If we are opening up to try and score that winning goal then we have to be prepared to run back the other way and defend. And defend better.

"We are two points ahead of Manchester United, who have been playing fantastic and are on a great run, Wolves are having a great season and they're behind us, Leicester have had a great season and we're just behind them.

"It's about perspective. We are upset because we wanted to win the game, we're footballers and we're in a good position. So there's no point in being down but I can't help but say the truth today which is that it's a game we should have won tonight."

Super-sub Andriy Yarmolenko scored a last-gasp winner to give West Ham's Premier League survival hopes a huge boost in a thrilling 3-2 victory over Chelsea at the London Stadium.

Introduced in the 78th minute for Jarrod Bowen, who had earlier set up goals for Tomas Soucek and Michail Antonio, Yarmolenko coolly slotted home at the end of a swift counter-attack to stun Chelsea.

The vital result lifts David Moyes' side three points above the relegation zone, while Chelsea - for whom Willian scored twice, including a stunning free-kick - missed the chance to climb to third.

It is the first time the Hammers, who won the reverse fixture 1-0, have done the league double over the Blues since the 2002-03 season, although they were somewhat ominously relegated in that campaign.

Frank Lampard insists he retains huge belief in Mason Mount, despite substituting the Chelsea midfielder at half-time in the FA Cup quarter-final at Leicester City.

Lampard was disgruntled with the Blues' first-half display at the King Power Stadium, with Mount and fellow youngsters Reece James and Billy Gilmour hooked.

Mount's replacement Ross Barkley netted the winning goal to book a semi-final showdown against Manchester United.

Nevertheless, speaking ahead of Wednesday's London derby at West Ham, Lampard insisted the standing of a player he took on loan to Derby County last season before overseeing a breakthrough at Premier League and international level is not at all diminished.

"I rely on Mason a lot. I did at Derby, I do at Chelsea," Lampard said, with Mount's 44 appearances in all competitions this season acting to back up his point.

"He brings so much to the team in his work ethic and the way he can start up a press in midfield. And then obviously his quality on the ball, which is only going to get better and it's already at a really high level.

"Mason wouldn't have been happy going off at half-time. I know that because, a bit like myself, I know that when he's not playing he's not happy and if he comes off he won't be happy.

"It was certainly a moment where he should be not happy that evening and then straight back to it afterwards because he knows how much I trust in him.

"He works brilliantly every day. And when I talk about Mason, I'm talking about Reece and Billy in the same breath.

"There'll be no problem at all with Mason. I had to make a decision and it doesn't affect my thinking for West Ham or going forwards."

A match against West Ham is one to relish for Mount, given it brings him into direct competition with childhood friend Declan Rice – something Lampard acknowledges can be a motivating factor.

"I think it spurs you on more if you have a personal relationship in either way – whether they're your best friend or you don't like each other," he said.

"I always think the result of that is not concrete either. You can have your best games in those circumstances and also become overly focused on that relationship and have not-so-good games.

"They're two very good young players. The only thing I ask of Mason going into this one is that he texts him tonight and smiles at him with a tongue or whatever it is, but if and when they go up against each other he has to try and beat him in every individual battle that he possibly can.

"And, sensing Declan Rice's character, I think they'll both be like-minded on that one."

Rice and Mount fell foul of UK lockdown restrictions when they were seen sharing a kickabout earlier in the coronavirus crisis.

Chelsea reminded the 21-year-old of his responsibilities at the time and Lampard was quick to draw a line under the incident.

"I saw Mason in a couple of places compared to players who went out partying and stayed up all night and did different things," he added.

"I'm not wanting to angle on that, but what I want to say is Mason was very innocently and naively and wrongly – he held his hands up to that at the time – kicking a ball about. That's so typical of Mason, how he lives his life.

"I had the shortest ever conversation with Mason. He was pretty apologetic that he got it wrong straight away and we moved on."

Frank Lampard rejected suggestions Chelsea are set to sign Manchester United youngster Angel Gomes.

The 19-year-old midfielder is out of contract at Old Trafford this week and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said on Monday that he expected Gomes to leave after new terms were not agreed.

Newspaper reports in the UK claimed Gomes had a deal on the table from Chelsea but Lampard told a news conference to preview Wednesday's game at West Ham that this is not something he is aware of.

"I can elaborate to the point that it's never been mentioned at my end. That's it," he said.

Lampard was similarly in no mood to discuss Declan Rice, the West Ham midfielder who has been linked with switching east London for west.

"Declan Rice is a good player, I've known Declan for a long time. He was at Chelsea's academy.

"But there's no talk – I keep saying that about every player that we're asked about – until this season's finished. There's nothing to say."

Looking ahead to who the next transfer might be is perhaps inevitable after Chelsea moved swiftly and in eye-catching fashion to secure Hakim Ziyech and Timo Werner from Ajax and RB Leipzig respectively.

From Wednesday, both men officially become Chelsea players and Lampard is pondering how to integrate them as their new team-mates conclude the relaunched Premier League season.

Ziyech has been out of action since March after the Eredivisie was cancelled, while Werner concluded his final Bundesliga campaign with Leipzig at the weekend.

"I'm in the process of arranging that plan now," Lampard explained. "They do become our players, they also are in different positions in the fact that Hakim hasn't played for a long time because of the Dutch league situation, while Timo finished at the weekend.

"We will formulate a plan for them that will look slightly different individually. I'll decide in the meantime how it looks at Cobham, at the training ground – whether that means mixing with the squad or it means some physical work in the short-term for themselves.

"It'll be up to how we arrange the plan because the first issue now is how we finish the season, that's my main focus.

"In terms of the two players individually, we have to make sure they arrive with good fitness levels and freshness levels for next season.

"They will have a longer break than the players we've already got in the squad, so I'll take that firmly into account. When I feel it's the right time to bring them in and around the squad this season, I can do that, if not the absolute priority is making sure they're fit and ready for next."

Lampard will make late calls on Christian Pulisic (calf) and Andreas Christensen (hip) ahead of the game against West Ham, with his team seeking to make it six consecutive wins in all competitions.

 

Frank Lampard has no concerns over Chelsea's young players, despite conceding his side were far below their best against Leicester City.

Ross Barkley came on from the bench to score in the 63rd minute on Sunday, securing a 1-0 victory to send Chelsea through to the FA Cup semi-finals, with Manchester United up next on July 18 or 19.

However, Lampard's side were second best in the first half, with the Blues boss making three changes at half-time – Barkley being one of the alterations. 

Mason Mount, Billy Gilmour and Reece James were the players to make way, but Lampard insists he has full confidence in the young trio.

"The first half wasn't what we're used to in terms of performance this season," Lampard, who took advantage of the temporary rule allowing five substitutions, told a news conference.

"We seriously lacked urgency and intensity in the first half, so the three subs... I probably could have made more subs or different subs.

"Of course, if we didn't have the extra subs, I wouldn't make the three at half-time, but the reason the subs are here is because they are trying to prevent injury and understand that the players have missed a proper pre-season.

"We can probably look at that we had three big games in a week, a very difficult game on Thursday, so I'll allow us a bit of credit, and the fact they showed enough to turn it around against good opposition.

"I don't think we have played that badly this season in 45 minutes; we played a lot better and lost games. So when it looks like I'm criticising, I'm actually positive that it's not the norm for us but it felt like it had to be addressed.

"I could've made different changes as well. In Mason's situation, he played two games in a week and gave a lot of input against Man City. Reece James hasn't played in a long time since going into lockdown and Billy's the same, so there are contributing factors around it.

"They are going to be top players, they will have top careers in football - that's the players they are - so whether you can call it a learning experience, I did do that.

"They are all good lads, they train well and I've never had a problem with them at all, so I've got no worries."

One player who did draw Lampard's praise was goalscorer Barkley, who has looked sharp since the resumption of the campaign.

"I played with Ross and I know he's a great lad. He wants to be the best player he can be and has a great attitude," Lampard added.

"Before lockdown, he put in some really good performances for us, his attitude has been spot on in training, he looked after himself in lockdown, and he was unfortunate not to start against Aston Villa. Since then, he's made an impact in every match he's played.

"I've got lots of time for Ross. He's a big player for us - you saw that today and in the last three games."

Ross Barkley came off the bench to secure Chelsea a 1-0 victory at Leicester City and take Frank Lampard's side into the FA Cup semi-finals.

Lampard made three substitutions after an underwhelming first-half display and they changed the game for the Blues, with Barkley – one of those introduced – getting the decisive goal.

Leicester looked the better side in the opening period and appeared to have greater control of proceedings, though their final pass did not match up to promising build-up play.

Chelsea produced a marked improvement in the second half after Lampard tinkered with his team and Barkley ended the deadlock with a smart finish in the 63rd minute, earning his team a place alongside Manchester United and Arsenal in the last four.

Chelsea were guilty of a sloppy start, but Leicester lacked ruthlessness and did not call Willy Caballero into action until the 20th minute when Youri Tielemans saw his 20-yard effort turned wide.

Lampard's men had another couple of escapes soon after, as Harvey Barnes blazed high and wide before Jonny Evans failed to direct a free header on target from a free-kick.

But Leicester had to rely on Kasper Schmeichel to avoid going behind in the 30th minute, the Danish goalkeeper producing a fine reaction save to deny Christian Pulisic.

A seemingly unimpressed Lampard made three alterations at half-time and it led to an improvement – Tammy Abraham finding the net in the 55th minute, only for celebrations to be cut short by an offside flag.

A Ben Chilwell cross hit the crossbar at the other end, but that was a momentary lapse in Chelsea's second-half domination and they deservedly went ahead just past the hour – half-time substitute Barkley expertly turning in Willian's low cross.

The Blues should have finished Leicester off on the break in the 89th minute, but Barkley's initial pass to Ruben Loftus-Cheek was poor and when the ball was returned to him the former Everton midfielder's shot was saved in unorthodox fashion by Schmeichel.

It had no impact on the result, however, as Chelsea head to Wembley.

 

What does it mean? Chelsea's depth serves them well

Few would have taken issue with Lampard's starting XI. After all, the three players taken off at half-time – Mason Mount, Billy Gilmour and Reece James – are all fine prospects.

However, when it was not working out, Lampard was able to turn to the likes of Barkley and Mateo Kovacic on the bench, and both were very bright after coming on.

Where there's a Willian, there's a way

His days at Stamford Bridge may be limited, but Willian proved that he certainly still has his uses. Not only did he set up Barkley's winner, he exhibited his hard-working nature with a match-high five tackles.

Mount and Gilmour hooked

Chelsea endured a very poor first half and the performances of their midfielders appeared to contribute to that. Mount struggled to really influence matters in attack, while Gilmour was guilty of a few wayward passes that put his team in real trouble. It was not a surprise to see them both withdrawn at the break.

What's next?

Leicester go to Everton in the Premier League on Wednesday, while Chelsea face London rivals West Ham the same day.

Liverpool are Premier League champions after Manchester City were beaten 2-1 by Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Thursday.

Pep Guardiola's side had the chance to prolong the Reds' 30-year wait at least until the two sides meet at the Etihad Stadium next week, but the title was within touching distance when Christian Pulisic gave Frank Lampard's side a 36th-minute lead.

Kevin De Bruyne's spectacular free-kick brought City level and Raheem Sterling hit the post, but their vulnerability on the break was eventually punished when Fernandinho handled in a desperate 75th-minute goalmouth scramble.

The veteran Brazil international was sent off and his countryman Willian sealed the points and crowned Jurgen Klopp's dominant league winners.

Kepa Arrizabalaga acrobatically pushed Fernandinho's header from Riyad Mahrez's free-kick over the crossbar amid a controlled opening half-hour from City.

Ederson saved well from Pulisic and Andreas Christensen in quick succession at the other end, and he merited better protection when Chelsea took the lead.

Poor communication between Ilkay Gundogan and Benjamin Mendy and the latter's botched recovery tackle that left Pulisic in the clear to finish coolly.

There was questionable wisdom in Mendy seeking to atone for his errors by shooting frequently from distance early in the second half.

In the 55th minute, De Bruyne added finesse to that tactic with a sumptuous dipping free-kick after N'Golo Kante clumsily fouled Mahrez.

A one-touch counter-attack then ended with Sterling dinking against the post, with Chelsea's efforts noticeably more laboured.

Ederson launched that attack but a poor pass out was almost punished as Mason Mount thumped into the side netting.

City's slick dominance of the ball but creaky defence lent an intriguing balance to the final quarter of the contest – Sterling curling agonisingly wide before Kyle Walker somehow got back to improbably deny Pulisic a second on the goal line.

Fernandinho was unable to be so precise when denying Tammy Abraham, leaving Willian to send Ederson the wrong way and prompt celebrations on Merseyside.

 

What does it mean: Chelsea take important step towards the Champions League

Although most of the focus was understandable on the main consequence of this Chelsea victory, it was a huge three points for the Stamford Bridge side. Their five-point advantage over a resurgent Manchester United in fifth is restored, while a wobbling Leicester City are now just a point better off with seven matches remaining.

De Bruyne shows his class once again

It feels like a trick of the mind that City won a thrilling title battle last season with De Bruyne reduced to a bit-part role by two medial knee ligament injuries. He has performed at a level above his colleagues this time around, with his free-kick here another champagne moment that adds weight to his case for end-of-season honours.

Mendy's moment to forget

In the build-up to this match, Mendy spoke of how this was his "time" and how he wanted to show people "the real Mendy" following his injury nightmare. Presumably, the slapstick version on display for Chelsea's opener was not what he had in mind. Guardiola needs a more reliable left-back next season, in terms of both form and fitness.

What's next?

Liverpool will emerge at the Etihad Stadium as champions, with the main bit of pre-match intrigue now set to revolve around whether a guard of honour is workable in the age of social distancing. Before that, City and Chelsea have away FA Cup quarter-finals on Sunday at Newcastle United and Leicester respectively.

Frank Lampard felt Raheem Sterling was wrong to compare the managerial careers of himself and Steven Gerrard to Sol Campbell but praised the Manchester City and England winger for his work in trying to highlight racial discrimination in football.

In the wake of Black Lives Matter protests sweeping the globe earlier this month, Sterling spoke to BBC Newsnight on a range of issues and discussed the lack of representation for black and ethnic minority people in the upper echelons of English football.

While also mentioning the minimal diversity present at boardroom level, Sterling struck a comparison between the early steps in coaching taken by Gerrard, Lampard, Campbell and their former England team-mate Ashley Cole.

Lampard took charge of Chelsea after guiding Derby County to the play-off final in his debut season in management, while Gerrard's first senior post after working at Liverpool's academy came with Scottish giants Rangers.

By contrast, Campbell is in charge of Southend United, who will begin next season in League Two – the fourth tier, where the ex-Arsenal centre-back masterminded a sensational escape from relegation for Macclesfield Town in 2018-19.

"I always refer back to football, the coaching staff you see around clubs," Sterling said. "I'll give a perfect one. There's Steven Gerrard, your Frank Lampards, you have your Sol Campbells and you have your Ashley Coles.

"All had great careers, all played for England. At the same time, they've all respectfully done their coaching badges to coach at the highest level and the two that haven't been given the right opportunities are the two black former players."

Speaking ahead of Chelsea's game against City at Stamford Bridge on Thursday, Lampard took exception to Sterling highlighting him specifically.

"In the last year or two, Raheem Sterling has been brave enough to speak about issues that maybe hadn't been broached and should have been broached a while before," he said. "That's huge credit to him.

"In the case of managers, I think Raheem got it, from my point of view, slightly wrong because it felt a very casual comparison.

"If you compare opportunities and pathways of individual managers - you can compare myself, you can compare Steven, you can compare Sol, who did an incredible job at Macclesfield and now at Southend that all of us would find very difficult to do."

Having played under him at Derby, Cole is now coaching in Chelsea's youth setup, and Lampard continued: "You compare to Ashley Cole, who is doing a great job and I think is going to be successful in whatever he wants to do.

"I think it's very hard to make that comparison from the outside. Those opportunities have to be equal for everybody, I think we all agree on that. But within that then there are the details of how hard you've worked.

"I've certainly worked hard from the start of my career to try and get this opportunity and there are a million things that knock you, set you back, you fight against."

Premier League players have worn the Black Lives Matter slogan on their shirts since the competitive action resumed, also taking a knee at the start of each match in solidarity with campaigns against police brutality.

Nevertheless, beyond the undoubted value of raising awareness, the underlying numbers in the English game remain troubling. Of 91 managers at professional clubs, six are black, while there are no black referees.

Lampard praised what he perceived to be a diverse outlook at Derby and Chelsea, based on his experiences with the two clubs, but acknowledged there is considerable work to be done.

"I think we're moving forward and can move forward more quickly, where players are getting equal opportunities if they move into management," he said.

"Not just players, young coaches when they come into the game. The FA do a lot of good work, I've just finished my Pro License. It was very diverse, it was very open.

"That needs to be encouraged. If there's anything we can do to help making sure everyone gets equal opportunity and a pathway into management, it needs to be done. The numbers suggest there are things that need to be done."

Lampard added: "With Raheem, I think the individual comparison when you don't have the detail of each individual person's pathway wasn't quite right.

"Again, I'll level that out because I want to say that Raheem Sterling as a person and a player and what he's stood up for over the past two years has been fantastic."

Frank Lampard is heartened by football's support of the Black Lives Matter movement staying strong in the wake of the offensive banner that marred Manchester City's 5-0 win over Burnley.

At the start of Monday's match, a plane carrying a banner reading "White Lives Matter Burnley" flew over the Etihad Stadium.

Burnley captain Ben Mee said he was "embarrassed" and "ashamed" by the incident and his club have pledged lifetime bans for the perpetrators.

Lampard's Chelsea host City on Thursday and he told a news conference that the widespread condemnation of the banner shows his sport will not be thrown off course at what increasingly looks to be a pivotal moment.

"I think we were all disappointed with the banner," he said. "One of the really positive things about recent happenings and the movement that's happening is the togetherness that the players are showing, clubs are showing, everyone involved is showing to try and move forward.

"I think it was a small step back but the reaction has been another positive move.

"Everybody has reacted in the same way outside of the people that think the other way to the rest of us. I think that's been positive and we must keep moving forward.

"Every game, every day you're seeing players, clubs come together. That's a great thing.

"That's what this is all about - being together and moving forward. We have some work to do and we'll all keep doing that."

If Liverpool beat Crystal Palace on Wednesday and City fail to beat Chelsea 24 hours later, Jurgen Klopp's men will be crowned Premier League champions.

During Lampard's playing days at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea endured a sometimes tempestuous rivalry with the Anfield outfit, but that has no bearing on his feelings over the destination of the title.

"I've got absolutely no thought of Liverpool's situation [in relation] to this game for us," said Lampard, who also played at City in 2014-15 to conclude his top-flight career in England.

"It makes no odds to us at all. I and we respect Liverpool and Man City as two fantastic teams.

"In the last two, three seasons they've been dominant. We can look at what it means for us this match, we want to try and win, we go against a great opponent and that's the only way I see it."

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