FRANK LAMPARD admits that Chelsea can be won in the Premier League elite.
The blues took third place last season – but they visit Wolves today in a transitional phase, threatening a new wave of big hitters.
Wolves, Leicester, Everton and West Ham are inclined to be among the top six, driven by high investment and wise management – and targeting Chelsea.
Lampard said, "You should do it. Because from the day you were able to write down the first four at the beginning of the season, you certainly can not do it now.
"You can not write down a top six, because the playing field of what we have now, where the teams invest heavily, you have to respect them.
"They are well run, they have good players and they are competitive.
"We saw how that changed before our eyes, because I remember that last year people talked about Everton, Leicester and Wolves who have applied in the top six.
"I think that's the landscape, it would always be like this.
"Especially from our point of view, we always want to be competitive. But we are all very honest about the situation here – Eden Hazard has moved on and two nines have moved on.
"There are younger players coming, we need to take our time, but we still want to be there. But that's not just history, because you're looking at teams that have invested a lot – Everton, West Ham, Leicester.
"There are teams that have ambitions to prevail, which is a challenge for all of us."
Chelsea scored two goals in their last game as captain Cesar Azpilicueta came under fire for a poor defense.
Former Blues midfielder Lampard said: "I played with Azpilicueta, I know him well and he's the first player to get up. He is not just a spectator.
"The reason he is captain is this professionalism and attitude.
"He'll be the first one to deal with things in training every minute of the day. I think he is a great player for us and a great personality. I see no problem.
"I remember innumerable times in my career playing with better players than I did, with little moments that people for some reason wanted to talk about.
"The best come through. Azpi will be comfortable with that.
"He is a top player and I do not think there are any major problems."