Posted on: Sat 25 Nov 2006

Chelsea will have played an away game in Europe just four days earlier but Frank Lampard has promised the team will sprint out the starting blocks at Old Trafford.

The Chelsea vice-captain remembers only too well last season's corresponding fixture when a Darren Fletcher 31st minute goal inflicted a 1-0 defeat. It ended a 40-game unbeaten Premiership run but the damage was not lasting.

Jose Mourinho's side finished the campaign eight points clear of Alex Ferguson's team.

Lampard believes the early stages of the game that day were crucial, as they will be on Sunday.

'It was frustrating because we were on a very good run. We didn't deserve to lose the game in my opinion. We started sluggish in the first-half, which was our own fault.

'Man United will always start with a high tempo. That is when they are at their best.

'But in the second-half, we deserved to get something out of the game, but we didn't. We have to be wary of a slow start this time.

'I have watched Man United a lot, as we all have this season, and they do come out flying and play with that tempo.

'I saw Gary Neville speaking about it in the papers today. We have to start the game well and try to impose ourselves on the game.

'If we impose ourselves and play at our best, we are confident we can beat any team.'

The media build-up to the big match has begun with reported comments from Man United winger Cristiano Ronaldo that Andriy Shevchenko and Michael Ballack have not changed Chelsea.

'I don't take any notice of things like that,' insists Lampard. 'It is part and parcel of big games. Comments do get blown up and the headlines are probably more drastic that the comments themselves.

'We have got nothing to prove, and nothing to speak about before the game. With players the calibre of Ballack and Shevchenko and what they have done for us so far and what they have done throughout their careers, they talk on the pitch. They will do that again.'

Sunday's game undoubted joins the Champions League tie against Barcelona as the biggest test of Chelsea's season so far. We came back from Spain with the most positive result from Barcelona's stadium in our history.

'It will be different,' Lampard believes. 'I don't think you can ever compare two games but in terms of the nature of this game, the atmosphere and the spotlight we will be under will be similar.

'We showed great character and we showed great belief in ourselves when we went to the Nou Camp. I don't think we were fearful of anything and we will try to take that attitude to Man U.

'When we do that, that is when we are at our best.'



By Paul Mason