Frank Lampard has called on Chelsea to pull off an undefeated run over the busy festive period in order to save their season – starting with a win over Leeds in the Capital One Cup quarter-final on Wednesday night.
The Blues returned to England empty-handed after their Club World Cup exploits, losing 1-0 to Corinthians in Sunday’s final, to find themselves 13 points adrift of Premier League leaders Manchester United.
But, vice-captain Lampard has issued a rallying call to his exhausted team-mates in an attempt to lift them ahead of the last-16 showdown at Elland Road.
"We have to pick it up for Leeds and then get our form back at home,” Lampard told The Sun.
"We got a result against Sunderland before we went out to Japan and it’s very important that we do our stuff, not just with Leeds but the Premier League games over Christmas.
“If we win at Leeds we’ll be in the semi-final and with the possibility of a decent draw, but we’ve got to win the games. It’s tough to go to Elland Road. There’s a rivalry.
“We’re aware of it and we have to play with passion and do the physical side of things because they’re going to be right at it.
“We can’t expect to go up there and tap it around and get a result. We have to do both sides.”
Chelsea and Leeds share a chequered history dating back to the 1970s, and Juan Mata revealed that Lampard has warned his team-mates that Neil Warnock's side will be no easy pushovers.
"We know the history of Chelsea and Leeds," Mata added.
"They are always difficult games, competitive between supporters. Lampard told me about the rivalry. He told me it started in the 70s.”