Former Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has heaped praise on Frank Lampard and his Blues side – but still has one concern about the team as they prepare to face champions Manchester City after the international break.
Chelsea head into the final Premier League hiatus before the packed Christmas schedule having notched up six consecutive league wins after their victory over Crystal Palace at the weekend – but Mourinho claims the big games cause him to worry about his former club.
Speaking on Sky Sports, Mourinho hailed the work Lampard has done so far since taking over in the summer, but feels their big-game performances remain a concern.
He said (via Metro): “In the first weekend I was worried and I’m still worried with the big matches. The kids coming into the team are fitting amazingly well with the top-class players like Willian and [N’Golo] Kante.
“I think [it has been] really, really great work by Frank. But, they lost twice against [Manchester] United, they lost against Liverpool at home. They conceded four goals against Ajax and I’m very, very curious to see Chelsea in the next match at the Etihad.
“I don’t believe in them to finish top two, but I believe very seriously for them to finish top four.”
There will be no surprises about Mourinho’s top-four comments, given Chelsea edged further clear as Arsenal dropped to sixth after losing to Leicester City, who currently lead the chasing pack for a Champions League place by nine points (along with Lampard’s men) after a third of the season.
However, his concerns over their performances in big games seem perfectly valid. While they have picked off so-called lower sides this term (with the exception of high-flying Sheffield United), they have come unstuck twice against Manchester United, who appeared to portray that their opening-day victory was no fluke.
That said, Chelsea have been remarkably consistent, with their early-season draw against Leicester now looking a very decent result, indeed.
But as Mourinho seems to imply, Manchester City will arguably provide their biggest test in the league since losing to Liverpool in September – and may provide a better indication of where Lampard and his team stand in this year’s competition.
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