Despite the recent slump, Lampard and Chelsea have exceeded expectations

The race for Champions League places is hotting up as the season enters its final stages but for some, they will be nervously looking over their shoulders. Chelsea are the team currently in charge of the final place despite appearing to be in a slump at the wrong time.

The Blues have been in control of a top European spot despite being under a transfer ban but indifferent form of late has allowed those teams chasing them to move within a few points putting that fourth place under real threat. 

Sheffield Utd, Manchester Utd and Tottenham have slowly been chipping away at the points difference and now Chelsea find themselves under increasing pressure to find some form and results before one or indeed all of these teams over-take them.

The visit of Tottenham and ex-Blues boss Jose Mourinho this weekend gives Chelsea the chance to gain a double over their North London rivals after comfortably winning 2-0 at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium before Christmas, but the current form between these two sides couldn’t be more different.

People will point to a rookie boss in Frank Lampard overachieving in his first year at the highest level and only able to work with the players already at the club before his arrival due to the ban on transfers. But for a majority of this season Lampard has got some great performances out of his players and has been able to blood the younger players into the team, not out of choice, but those he has selected have proved they can handle themselves at this level.

Their current run of bad form has coincided with the loss of striker Tammy Abraham through injury and with Olivier Giroud only just returning to the squad after much speculation during the January transfer window has left the Blues short on striking options and while others have stepped up to provide goal scoring options, the lack of clean sheets has put their top four place in jeopardy, indeed since that defeat of Spurs back in December only one clean sheet has been in Chelsea’s favour.

Kepa has fallen out of favour to be replaced by the evergreen Willy Caballero between the sticks but it hasn’t stopped the goals going in, frailties at set pieces all too evident against Manchester Utd. There is a wealth of talent and ability within Lampard’s squad and there should be enough for them to secure enough points to keep the chasing pack at bay. 

As we head into the final twelve games of the season each one takes on a different significance on both sides of the ball and with interest still in both the FA Cup and Champions League it’ll be interesting to see where Lampard’s priorities lie on all three fronts. 

With Liverpool and Bayern Munich to face in the respective cup competitions Lampard certainly has his work cut out to keep the Blues competitive whilst maintaining a top four charge, the club can certainly use the mega amounts of money that Europe’s top competition can bring.

Follow Trevor on Twitter @trevk37

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