Victory at Anfield will guarantee Champions League football at the Bridge next season, and while winning tonight will clearly be no easy feat, Frank Lampard has considered why sealing a top-four spot would be such an important and impressive achievement.
We take on the newly-crowned Premier League champions knowing if we become the first team since Crystal Palace in April 2017 to beat Liverpool on their own patch, we will be certain of finishing at least fourth heading in to the final weekend of the season.
Of course, nothing is certain against a side who have swept all before them domestically this season, and won 17 and drawn one of their 18 home league games. A huge challenge awaits the Blues, but Lampard knows if his side can pull it off it will be hugely significant for not only the future of the club, but also the development of his young squad.
‘The Champions League is massively important for Chelsea, not just in terms of the prestige and what it means, but if you are on the world stage like Chelsea have been, you want to compete at the highest level, and you want to attract players to the highest level,’ said the boss.
‘It obviously generates money to the club. You understand why there is such intense scrutiny on who finishes in the top four. Now it becomes an accomplishment in itself. We want to move further than that so we look upwards in the Premier League, but trying to get in the Champions League has to be a huge aim for Chelsea, even with the way this year has gone.
‘It would be a big achievement for the players,’ added Lampard of finishing in the top four.
‘We had a squad that included players coming back from loan this year, making Premier League debuts and experiencing the marathon that is a Premier League season, and we lost probably the best player in the league.
‘Teams around us invested. We were fighting our own battles, the players fight those battles on the pitch, and while I never thought it would be plain sailing it’s in our hands in the last two games to get there. If we get there - and it’s going to be tough because of the games ahead of us - it should be something we are happy with, and then it’s thinking about how we move on and bridge the gap upwards.’
As a player, Lampard knew what it took to get the job done. So what advice can he offer his squad in the coming days to ensure we get the required points from our fixtures with Liverpool and Wolves?
‘There has been a lot of talk about mentality and mindset in the last few weeks, and of course that’s huge. We haven’t been able to work too much between games here, so it’s whether the players can give huge efforts in these two games to get the results we need.
‘It doesn’t need to be spelt out much more than that. It’s ours to get over the line and there’s still work to be done.’
Liverpool have dropped more points since winning the league (when we beat Man City last month) than they had in the entirety of the season up to that point, testament to the stability of performance and outcome they maintained from August to June.
It has not always been that way under Jurgen Klopp, however. Liverpool finished eighth in the season in which he arrived, and then fourth in 2016/17, fourth again in 2017/18, and then second last year, when they ran Man City very close. The long-term project at Anfield has now paid off, and, considering similarities between the early Klopp days with his own at Chelsea, Lampard detailed the strategy required to reach the levels the Reds have this season.
’Belief in the way you work, understanding there can be improvement in small parts every single day, on the training ground and how we behave, and belief we can get to where we want,’ said the boss. ‘That has to be a constant message.
‘I remember Liverpool being inconsistent in those early days,’ he continued.
‘What you have to have then is consistency in your own work. The message has to be clear. There will be tough times, but if you want to veer away and take shortcuts, or find a different way, you have to believe in what you’re doing.
‘I believe in the way the staff and I work here. You want the players to buy in to that and work alongside that, to understand that tough times along that road are going towards the idea of getting to where we want to be.’
Read more from the boss here ahead of tonight's game