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Chelsea can win the Premier League - but do the Blues truly believe?

1:30 PM IST 30/11/20
Frank Lampard Timo Werner and Jose Mourinho
Frank Lampard's side have been caught between attack and defence in big games this year despite having the squad to challenge for the title

With Liverpool ravaged by injury and Manchester City still in the midst of a rebuild, there is an opportunity for a new challenger to emerge in this season's Premier League title race.

On Sunday, both Chelsea and Tottenham had the chance to send a message to the top two sides of the past two seasons with their meeting at Stamford Bridge, but neither were able to make any kind of statement in a drab 0-0 draw.

The result keeps Spurs on top of the table, but the result was achieved through an ultra-defensive second half, during which Jose Mourinho's side failed to register a shot on goal.

Chelsea, meanwhile, created more and dominated the latter stages of the game, but there is also a sense that they still did not do enough.

Tammy Abraham and Olivier Giroud did miss big second-half chances, while Huge Lloris pulled off a fine save to deny Mason Mount from distance late on, but it was hard not to feel this was a missed opportunity given their improved defence's ability to shut down Harry Kane and Son Heung-min.

"You have to try to stop counterattacking in transitions," Lampard said of keeping Tottenham at bay post-match. "I thought that part of our game was excellent.

"Sometimes you rely on a bit of magic. Sometimes when you have that dominance, it can happen.

"I am balanced after the game. Big parts were great, hence the clean sheet. But a game we maybe should have won.

"In terms of where we are at, I am pretty happy. Bringing signings into the club, it doesn’t mean everything works. We have to gel, we have to work, we have to build relationships with the players and we are doing that. We are not in a bad place at all."

Lampard, for the most part, is right.

After 10 games, Chelsea are third in the table and just two points adrift of leaders Spurs. The majority of their new signings have impressed, with Edouard Mendy and Thiago Silva having helped transform their backline.

In all competitions the Blues are on a 14-match unbeaten run, have only lost one match in 90 minutes all season and are already assured of a place in the Champions League last 16 with two group games to spare.

However, they are yet to beat a team that currently sits in the top half of the Premier League table in five attempts across all competitions. Their European victories, meanwhile, came against sides in Rennes and Krasnodar who sit seventh in Ligue 1 and 10th in the Russian Premier League, respectively.

Lampard's new-look side appear certainties for a top-four finish if they can maintain their current levels throughout the campaign, but they still have a further step to take, and it is one they should be capable of making.

Having spent £150 million ($197m) on attacking talent over the summer, and with Christian Pulisic, Abraham, Giroud and Mount already established in the squad, Lampard is not short of firepower.

And yet, with Sunday's stalemate, they have now failed to score in league matches against Tottenham, Manchester United and Liverpool, as well as in the Champions League against Sevilla.

Liverpool were the only one of those sides to beat them - and their goals came following a red card for Andreas Christensen - but for the most part in those games Lampard has instructed his full-backs to rein in their attacking instincts while ensuring his two number eights in midfield are less adventurous in possession.

As such, the manager is too often hoping for some "magic" from the likes of Hakim Ziyech, Timo Werner or Kai Havertz.

"We could have had a bit more magic or something drop for us at the top of the pitch, there was only really one team for the majority of the game who was searching and that was us," Lampard said of his side's inability to break the deadlock.

"We have been playing pretty well and we wanted to win. In the end we didn’t quite have enough at the top end to do that.”

Lampard has continued to play down his team's title credentials during the opening weeks of the season, but there is no question there is an opportunity there to do something special this season.

To do so, the Blues must start to show just how improved they are by beating, rather than merely fending off, their fellow top-six clubs.

The squad has been changed to ensure they have the quality to do so. Now the mentality needs to be altered.