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Lampard: Great to be in mix.

Byline: MIKE WALTERS

FRANK LAMPARD consigned Chelsea's fallow years as title also-rans to the archives and admitted: "It's great to be fighting for the crown again."

Lampard (above) began the countdown to Saturday's six-pointer with Arsenal by conceding the Blues had been "off the pace" in the race for English football's gold standard since Carlo Ancelotti led them to the Double four years ago.

And Chelsea's comfortable passage into the Champions League quarter-finals against Galatasaray has increased his appetite for a derby already ripe with sub-plots.

"It's a big test, a big game considering we lost our last Premier League game at Villa," said Lampard. "Have Arsenal surprised me this season? Yes and no - to be fair, they are always in the top four and Champions League every year.

"I know they have been slightly off the pace in certain years, but I think they have improved and I have a lot of respect for Arsenal. At this stage, you can't look too far ahead - it's game by game, desire and focus every time.

"For me, it's very simple: worry about yourselves, look after your own game, and if we do that in as many games as possible between now and the end of the season, we'll give ourselves a great chance.

"I'm confident we can do it - we've had two or three years of being off the pace now and it's great to be back in the race."

Chelsea old boy Didier Drogba backs his former team-mates. He said: "They know how to handle this situation. When I was there, if we were top of the league at this stage of the season, we never let it go."
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Mar 20, 2014
Words:279
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