Lampard worry over standards
Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard admits he is concerned about a potential drop in standards at the club.
Following a tumultuous season which saw Roberto Di Matteo sacked, Chelsea sit third in the Premier League, some 14 points behind leaders Manchester United.
Although there has been widespread vitriol from the Stamford Bridge terraces towards Di Matteo's temporary replacement Rafael Benitez, Chelsea's league form has improved in the league of late, with the shock defeat to QPR the only blot on the Spaniard's copybook over the last month in terms of league results.
Yet Lampard, who has helped Chelsea win three league titles, four FA Cups and one Champions League during his 11 years at the club, is not content at being overshadowed by the two Manchester giants who now rule the roost.
During his stint at Stamford Bridge, Lampard has finished outside the top two on four occasions and he wants to see his beloved club challenging for at least second place this term.
"That's where this club has to be," the midfielder told Chelsea TV ahead of Wednesday's home game against Southampton.
"I hate the idea of standards dropping. We have been up there a long time trying to win the league... a bad year was coming second.
"The minute you drop your standards too far below then you will settle for that and there is a desire and a determination among the players and the staff, from the squad and the club to keep where we want to be."
Lampard's frustration at Chelsea's inability to challenge for the title is perhaps borne out of the knowledge that this is likely to be his last year at the west London club.
With no contract offer on the table from Chelsea, the 34-year-old looks set to leave in the summer, with the Los Angeles Galaxy one of many clubs reported to be interested in signing him.
The former West Ham midfielder thinks the way Chelsea can get back up the league is by ending their erratic home form.
The Blues hammered Aston Villa 8-0 but then went on to lose against QPR and Swansea while earlier in the season Liverpool, City, United and Fulham also took points from Stamford Bridge.
"At the moment we are a better away team than home team because the results speak for themselves," Lampard added.
"But that has got to change against Southampton on Wednesday. We have to start quicker and get the movement and the passing going like we did at Stoke (where the Blues won 4-0 on Saturday).
"We can play different ways and we are doing it well away from home, but it is a case of sustaining things when you are attacking - following up the play and trying to play quickly on either side. It is all things we can do and I think people will see us do it now. We have to."
Lampard was key to Chelsea's return to winning ways on Saturday, stroking home a penalty to dash Stoke's hopes of an unlikely comeback.
The goal moved Lampard ahead of Kerry Dixon to second place in the all-time Chelsea top scorer list and he now only has eight to go before he reaches Bobby Tambling's 202-goal record.
"Everyone mentions (Tambling's record) with every goal I score and it is something I would be very proud of," Lampard added.
"But I love playing in a performance like Saturday and if I can keep doing that until the end of the season then I will be happy."