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Chelsea "have to handle the pressure" of top four race | Lampard


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Frank Lampard can feel the pressure building as the Premier League season reaches a crescendo and he attempts to claim a top four spot with Chelsea.

Considering the amount of money that the club has splurged on new talent for next season, £50m on Timo Werner and £33.3m on Hakim Ziyech for starters, the least expected of the manager will be Champions League qualification.

The Blues are currently in fourth place, one point behind Leicester City in third and just two clear of Manchester United below them, and Lampard can feel the heat all around him.

"The pressure ramps up, without a doubt, game by game, results around you can affect it," he said ahead of Tuesday's trip to Crystal Palace.

"We had both ends of that pre-West Ham and then pre-Watford where the pressure was there for different reasons."

The pressure got to the team in the game at West Ham which they lost 3-2 thanks to a last minute Andriy Yarmolenko strike that ended a five match unbeaten run (W4 D1).

They recovered with a 3-0 hammering of Watford last Saturday and while he attempts to shoulder most of the burden of the race for the top four, he wants the players to show they can handle all that comes with it.

"I enjoy it. It's something I was used to as a player. I think as a manager you certainly take more on board then as an individual player," said Lampard.

"That's been different for me because you take the expectations of the club and the fans etc. So that ramps it up but that 's what we're in it for. That's what it's all about.

"All I want to do now is make sure we get everything right that we can control which is preparation, maintaining ourselves in between games and making sure that we recover right and prepare for each game as they come.

"Those rules remain the same and we have to handle the pressure."

While Lampard does not look like a man under pressure he must be feeling it and especially if he casts a glance back at where the club were this time last season.

After 33 matches former boss Maurizio Sarri had helped the Stamford Bridge club in to third place with 66 points, nine more than they have now and the tally that Manchester City currently have.

As Sarri will testify, Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich will not settle for average and while Lampard might have some credit in the bank as a player who achieved so much with the Blues, he might not want to test the Russian's nerve by not qualifying for UEFA's elite competition.

Unfortunately for the manager, he will be without two in-form midfielders for the Selhurst Park trip as N'Golo Kante (hamstring injury v Watford) and Mateo Kovacic (Achilles) are both out.

"Kante won't be in the squad. He hurt his hamstring, it is a low level hamstring injury, maybe a week (before he returns)," Lampard explained.

"Kovacic trained with us but won't be ready. (Centre back Fikayo) Tomori had a setback, hopefully (he is) back next week."


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