Chelsea’s trip to Manchester United still has the feeling of a “big game”, says Blues boss Frank Lampard, as he searches for a key early-season victory over their big-six rivals on Saturday. The sides are two of the most successful in Premier League history, and clashes between them in previous years often came with both teams challenging for the title. However, Liverpool and Manchester City have established themselves as the top-two sides in the Premier League over the past two seasons, leaving Chelsea and United to battle for the two remaining places in the top four. But both Chelsea and United are looking to close the gap at the top of the table this season and, with Liverpool and City already showing vulnerabilities, Lampard says he has no doubt over the importance of his side’s visit to Old Trafford – live on Sky Sports Premier League.
Asked if United vs Chelsea still feels like a big game, he said: “Yes, it certainly does – as it should do. “We’ve played them a lot – we played them in two cup competitions as well as the league last year. They’re a quality team with quality individuals and organisation. We saw how they went to Paris in midweek and got a fantastic result. “At the minute, everybody is very close in the league. It’s an opportunity to get some hard-earned points, but it will be a really tough match.”
Lampard has praised Marcus Rashford’s “fantastic” campaign against child poverty and says the Manchester United forward should be commended for using his voice to try to make a difference. Rashford has been urging the Government to continue the free school meals programme over the upcoming school holidays, having already successfully forced them to extend the scheme over the summer.
The 22-year-old’s campaign was put forward for a vote in Parliament by Labour, but it was rejected. However, an ever-growing number of councils and businesses are committing themselves to Rashford’s proposals. Lampard has been watching Rashford’s work from afar and, ahead of Chelsea’s trip to United on Saturday – live on Sky Sports Premier League – he said: “It’s been great to see young players with personality, with a voice, speaking up for things that they care passionately about. I absolutely commend him for that. “There are a group of players now in the Premier League – doesn’t matter what age or what team you play for – that are speaking out in the right way. It’s been fantastic and he deserves credit for it.”
‘I expect us to improve’
Chelsea were an unpredictable side in Lampard’s first season in charge and they have continued that trait this campaign, with their latest Premier League game seeing them throw away a 2-0 lead to draw 3-3 at home to Southampton. It was their second six-goal tie in just five league games, but Lampard says the absence of a pre-season this summer has hampered his new-look side’s development. Questioned whether his team was at the standard he was looking for, he responded: “I’m seeing some signs of that, but I also know we’ve brought six players in that are looking to get in our first XI and a lot of them had injuries and some of them are younger. “I’m seeing signs but I’m also seeing things I want us to improve in every game, so I’m not jumping ahead of myself. I knew this would be something which would take some time. “We missed a pre-season, so our time now is real-life games, which is not always great. That’s why I expect us to get better and we need to keep working on those points. “It’s not a perfect situation to have new players in, when you don’t have training time. But we’ll keep working.”