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Lampard: It's crunch time in title race

ESPN staff
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Sir Alex Ferguson used to call it 'squeaky bum time' but Frank Lampard preferred a less graphic phrase when he warned his Chelsea team-mates they are entering "crunch time" in the title race.

The midfielder is unhappy with the limited time his side have to recover before they face Fulham on Saturday, having travelled to Turkey for their 1-1 Champions League draw with Galatasaray on Wednesday, but told them it was time to leave Manchester City behind.

Lampard knows Chelsea can claim a psychological advantage by opening up a nine point gap to their key rivals in the next 10 days while City concentrate on the League Cup final and FA Cup quarter-finals.

"It's tight and that would be a nice gap," Lampard said of the team his manager, Jose Mourinho, has repeatedly claimed are favourites. "It's crunch time where you have to develop a winning mentality that even if you play badly, you win.

"But our run since December has been fantastic in the league, we have put ourselves right up in the race."

The fatigue factor could come into play during the title run - and City as well as Chelsea have an onerous fixture list.

Lampard called on the Premier League to help their teams who are still playing in Europe by giving them more time in between matches.

Chelsea returned from Turkey in the early hours of Thursday morning and Lampard said: "We don't expect any favours. It's about resting up and getting ready to go.

"Other countries seem to look after teams representing them in the Champions League. I'm not sure we do so much here. I'm not trying to get one over on other Premier League teams - it just seems a general rule.

"It would seem like using a bit of common sense if you are getting home at 6am like I am. We could have done with Fulham being on a Sunday. But you don't get too many favours considering the journey we have had."

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