Lampard: Players must take blame


Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard insists the club's players must be blamed for the club's recent slump, not manager Andre Villas-Boas.

Following Saturday's defeat at Everton, owner Roman Abramovich visited the Blues' training ground on Sunday, a scheduled day off for the squad.

The Russian owner addressed both Villas-Boas and his players, but reportedly encountered angry exchanges between the Portuguese boss and his playing staff.

But Lampard said: "We have been fighting to win leagues. Now, we are fighting for fourth and that hurts, so we have to react.

"We know we are in a bad way and we have to dig ourselves out of it. Different players do come in but whoever plays has to live up to the standards we have set.

"If we play like we did at Everton against Napoli, we will give ourselves a mountain to climb."

With 17 points separating Chelsea from leaders Manchester City, the Champions League represents one of the last opportunities for the club to claim silverware this term, with an FA Cup fifth round tie against Birmingham City also on the horizon this weekend.

Abramovich took the decision to sack Carlo Ancelotti following last-term's trophy-less season, and it's unknown whether the ruthless owner will wield the axe again, only this time on the former Académica chief.

At 34, the appointment of Villas-Boas represented a long-term commitment for the Stamford Bridge club.

The summer recruits of Romelu Lukaku, Oriol Romeu and Juan Mata also hinted towards a longer term project, and with the spine of Chelsea's three-time title winning squad; Petr Cech, John Terry, Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba in the twilight of their career, few expected immediate success despite his trophy-laden first year in charge of Porto.

However, having sacked five managers in eight-and-a-half years at the helm, Abramovich is known for being decisive.

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