Lampard insists he never pinned Chelsea's Champions League hopes on Man City verdict

By Ryan Benson 13 July 2020 9
Lampard insists he never pinned Chelsea's Champions League hopes on Man City verdict

Frank Lampard insists he never pinned Chelsea's Champions League qualification hopes on Manchester City not being allowed to compete in UEFA competition.

City were handed a €30million fine and two-year ban from the Champions League and Europa League by UEFA in February due to alleged "serious breaches" of club licencing and financial fair play (FFP) regulations.

But the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ruled in City's favour on Monday following the club's appeal, meaning the 2018-19 Premier League champions will be able to compete in UEFA competition next season, while their fine was reduced to €10m.

The CAS decision will also have serious ramifications in the Premier League, as fifth-place will no longer be good enough for Champions League qualification, as it had looked set to be with City – who sit second in the table – out of the picture.

Six points separate five teams in the race for the second two spots in the top four, and although a Manchester United win over Southampton on Monday will elevate them to third and above Chelsea, Lampard remains relaxed about the situation.

"I was pretty neutral on it [the City verdict] really," Lampard told reporters ahead of Tuesday's visit of already-relegated Norwich City. "I didn't know much about the case, I just looked at the result of it this morning.

"I don't see beyond the games in hand, we want to win them. I was never pinning my hopes on it, we just looked at ourselves.

"My only concern are the games ahead. We are at a critical stage of the season. We know what is in front of us. We have to try to finish the job.

"We are sitting third, it is in our hands. This morning has just made it clear now and we have to fight for it."

Lampard will hope the visit of struggling Norwich provides some relief and respite for Chelsea, who have been erratic this month.

After enjoying a three-match winning streak after the season's resumption in June, Chelsea have since lost two of their past four, including a dire 3-0 defeat at fellow European hopefuls Sheffield United last time out.

While Lampard says he has tried to not dwell on that loss, he did acknowledge changes are likely.

"Possibly, [but] I don't want to give my starting XI away," he said. "While I have to consider the freshness of the team, we are trying to get the balance of the side as well.

"Sheffield United have taken big teams all the way this year. I won't dwell on the game, it can happen to any team. It's something we don't like, but we are striving to be better and it is important for that.

"I don't have a set way of dealing with it, just how I see fit. I like to watch games back. The players could feel they weren't at their best, we are moving on and we have a positive feeling in the camp.

"If you don't turn up and perform, it doesn't matter about momentum, but having good home form gives us confidence. Norwich - we have to treat them with utmost respect. They can feel unfortunate with some of their results."

Leicester City's shock 4-1 defeat at Bournemouth on Sunday at least ensured Chelsea will remain in the top four regardless of United's result against Saints.

Similarly, on paper the Foxes have the trickiest run-in of the three teams as well, as they have to face the Blades, Tottenham and then Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men on the final day of the season.

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