Glen Johnson has played down Chelsea’s chances of mounting a title challenge this season but believes his former club will ‘certainly’ be part of three-horse race along with Liverpool and Manchester City next year.
Summer arrivals Edouard Mendy, Timo Werner, Thiago Silva, Hakim Ziyech and Ben Chilwell all appear to be clicking into gear, with Chelsea netting 14 times and conceding just once on their four-game unbeaten run before the international break.
Former Chelsea right-back Johnson has been impressed with Lampard’s start and the signings he’s made since returning to Stamford Bridge but has urged fans to be patient with their manager – predicting the club will have to wait until next season to seriously compete for the title.
‘Everyone’s got to make the most of certain opportunities that are thrown their way. I think even Lamps would be surprised that he’s got the job so soon.
‘With the club in the position they were, it was good for him and good for the club.
‘I think he’s earned his stripes early on, in terms of what he did with Jody [Morris] and using the youth. 18 months ago we didn’t know much about Mason Mount or Tammy Abraham and Reece James.
‘They’ve brought all these players through, yes because of the ban, but they’ve still added massive assets to the club.
‘Then obviously Roman Abramovich believes in him and has given him the money to go and buy the players they’ve just bought.’
‘In the league, who’s more in-form than them right now? I don’t think anyone is. They’ve scored what, 12 goals in the last four home games and five clean sheets.
‘They’re certainly the team that are going to close the gap. I don’t think this will be the season to tip Liverpool or City, but Chelsea will certainly make it a three-horse race next year.’
‘In terms of best odds, I’d go Liverpool, City then Chelsea.’
Chelsea have a trip to Newcastle up next before taking on Rennes for a second time in the Champions League.
The Blues then play host to Tottenham in what promises to be an enthralling encounter between the two London rivals.