Joe Cole believes former team-mate Frank Lampard’s winning mentality will be the reason Chelsea will keep a rejuvenated Manchester United at bay and claim the final top four spot.
Liverpool are within touching distance of the league and Manchester City will finish second while Leicester City have been an ever-present in the top four all season as they sit third.
It looks to be a shootout between Chelsea and United for fourth and while Cole accepts United have all their key players again such as Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford, Lampard’s winning mentality is what will get Chelsea over the line.
‘It’s hard because none of us have seen any kind of form, we don’t know what’s going on,’ BT Sport pundit Cole said.
‘You look at the logic and (Paul) Pogba is going to be back fit for Man United. Bruno Fernandes will have settled in a little bit more. He looks like an excellent signing. They’ll be chasing Chelsea down.
‘The logical thing is Man United will come back stronger because they’ve got their best player back in Paul Pogba, but I think Frank’s got enough to hang on in there and nick that fourth place.
‘I know Frank’s a winner and he’ll be looking at the FA Cup as well. That’s vitally important for that club because over the last 20 years has been built on winning trophies and that’s what the fans want to see.’
Chelsea’s first game back since the league’s resumption comes on Sunday away at Aston Villa, a side at the wrong end of the table and in a fierce battle to avoid relegation.
A number of sides, including Villa, Watford and Brighton, are in the thick of it and when quizzed on what is needed at this late stage of season to avoid the drop, Cole thinks managerial experience is more vital than ever.
‘The managers have a real hire wire job to do, you’ve got to crack the whip to get the players fit, and any players in their squad who are a little bit fragile, or susceptible to injuries, they’re the ones that you risk losing,’ he added.
‘A hamstring problem, a three or four week problem now, that’s the season done. Managers have to get the right balance to get the fitness into the legs but also keeping them fresh enough so they don’t pick up any silly niggling injuries.
‘An experienced manager now is vital. If you get it wrong and lose two or three of your best players for a three or four week spell, you really give yourself less of a chance of achieving your goal.’