LAMPARD: THIS IS WHERE OUR STRENGTH IS TESTED
A vital game at a vital stage of the season - that is how Frank Lampard has described tonight's challenge at Manchester City.
The game continues a run of four games in nine days for the Chelsea players prior to the break for internationals, a period that matches the notoriously crowded Christmas programme for its intensity.
'We've had a fairly quiet January and February,' Lampard said, talking to Chelsea's official radio partner Smooth FM 102.2, 'and this is the stage of the season where it really kicks in again.
'If you want to be in the mixer at the end, this is where you need to get your results.
'We can't afford to drop any points in the league so with the busy fixture schedule with games on all fronts, it is vital that we concentrate on winning every game. It is not easy but that is that is our intention. This is where you find out how fit and strong you are as a squad.
'The game at Man City will be a tough game because they are fighting, they have potential problems at the bottom and they need to get wins to make sure they stay up.
'It is a difficult midweek game, as simple as that, and we need to recharge and make sure we are ready for it.'
Our near ever-present midfielder admits to being a little surprised by the lowly 17th position Stuart Pearce's side find themselves in.
'But the table certainly doesn't lie,' he adds, 'and if don't get the results you should do, you'll end up down there.'
With many eyes on Didier Drogba, waiting for him to score the goal that will take him to a landmark 30 for the season, Lampard's current total has gone a little unnoticed.
His two goals against Spurs, the same goals that lifted him above Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink to become Chelsea's tenth highest scorer in our history, have left him just one away from a milestone too.
A goal tonight at the City of Manchester Stadium will put Lampard on 20 goals from midfield for the second season in a row.
'I am just pleased that my two goals against Tottenham helped us to get some sort of result and I was also pleased for Kalou, who has been playing very well in the patches he has been coming on recently. It was a great finish from him.
'After he scored that goal, I looked at the manager to see if he wanted us to shut up shop at three-all and settle for the draw but he didn't, he told me to keep pushing on.
'We keep starting poorly lately and it is not good enough. We put ourselves under pressure. We can't afford any more starts like that,' he warns.
Smooth FM 102.2 will be carrying live radio commentary of tonight's game, including exclusive build-up and post-match reaction.