Frank Lampard has highlighted the three things that will be crucial for victory against Tottenham and making us title contenders over the course of the season.
We face a Spurs side that began the weekend top of the table at Stamford Bridge today knowing a win would see us leapfrog our London rivals and Liverpool, to take top spot.
Our head coach knows all about big matches with high stakes from his playing career and guided us to victory in both derbies against Tottenham in last season’s Premier League, although we were beaten on penalties by them in this year’s Carabao Cup.
However, he knows that every meeting is a new challenge and will require two key things from his players against in-form opponents.
‘Against Tottenham we had two very good performances last season and won the games,’ said Lampard. ‘There are other performances through the year where we didn’t so much. There was a game earlier in the year against Tottenham where we played very well for half the game, not so well in the second half.
‘I’m continually trying to find those improvements in how we prepare for games, but also aware that every game’s different and we meet a Tottenham team in very, very good form.
‘My only feeling for a game of this size against a rival like Tottenham, is the players must absolutely feel the focus and concentration levels needed for this game. We will deal with the tactics, we will have a plan of how we want to work against Tottenham to bring out the best in us, but focus and concentration, two really simple words, will be huge in a game at this level.’
The recent form and rise up the table of Chelsea and Tottenham means there will be even more attention than usual on this derby, with people eager to judge both teams' potential to mount a lasting title challenge.
However, Lampard says it is far too early to make those judgements, with title-challenger status something that needs to be earned over the course of a grueling campaign.
‘I keep saying the same thing – there’s a long way to go. The thing that separates the top teams who win titles to the others is consistency.
‘So over a short period of games, I don’t think it’s enough of a period to say that ourselves or any other teams are up there at the moment, or are actually going to be title contenders come the end of the season. That’s all still to be proven by us.’
One player who looks set to boost our chances of success considerably is Hakim Ziyech, following his excellent early performances in a Chelsea shirt.
He has certainly impressed Lampard too, both in matches and at Cobham, but our head coach is still confident there is plenty more to come from him as he continues to settle in England.
‘He’s made a great impact. I love working with him because he’s a player that trains very well, affects people around him, has great individual talent, works in the gym, works on his rehab. So I’ve been absolutely impressed with him in every sense since he’s been at the club and he’s delivered on the pitch and in a short space of time.
‘I expect more. Hopefully we can all expect more because he’s shown real quality to show that he’s become accustomed to the league very quickly.
‘These are the reasons I brought him to the club. I thought he could be a real talent to bring here and someone who brings something different in his style and the way he plays. So far he’s shown that and I expect him to show more.’