FRANK LAMPARD admits he is concerned about a potential drop in standards at Chelsea.
Following a tumultuous season which saw Roberto Di Matteo sacked, Chelsea sit third in the Premier League, some 14 points behind leaders Manchester United.
Although there has been widespread vitriol from the Stamford Bridge terraces towards Di Matteo's temporary replacement Rafael Benitez, Chelsea's league form has improved of late, with the shock defeat to QPR the only blot on the Spaniard's copybook over the last month in terms of league results.
Yet Lampard, who has helped Chelsea win three league titles, four FA Cups and one Champions League during his 11 years at the club, is not content at being overshadowed by the two Manchester giants.
During his stint at Stamford Bridge, Lampard has finished outside the top two on four occasions and wants to see his beloved club challenging for second place this term.
"That's where this club has to be," the midfielder said ahead of tomorrow's home game against Southampton. "I hate the idea of standards dropping.
"We have been up there a long time trying to win the league... a bad year was coming second.
"The minute you drop your standards too far below then you will settle for that and there is a desire and a determination among the players and the staff, from the squad and the club to keep where we want to be."
Lampard's frustration at Chelsea's inability to challenge for the title is perhaps borne out of the fact this is likely to be his last year at the club.
With no contract offer on the table, the 34-year-old looks set to leave in the summer, with Los Angeles Galaxy one of many clubs reported to be interested in signing him.
The former West Ham midfielder thinks the way Chelsea can get back up the league is by ending their erratic home form.
The Blues hammered Aston Villa 8-0 but then lost against QPR and Swansea while earlier in the season Liverpool, City, United and Fulham took points from Stamford Bridge.
He said: "That has got to change against Southampton.
"We have to start quicker and get the movement and the passing going like we did at Stoke."