LONDON • Frank Lampard's first game in charge of Chelsea was a baptism of fire, but 21/2 months on, that 4-0 English Premier League defeat at Old Trafford "feels a million miles away".
The hosts are on a seven-game winning run in all competitions with 21 goals and at his pre-match press conference ahead of today's League Cup fourth-round tie with Manchester United, the Blues boss took a pop at pundits who wrote off his side after that match as being "too critical of other clubs".
He said yesterday: "I don't want to talk about them too much but since the first game, our points total has been nice.
"It can be difficult for any of us... we shouldn't focus only on a period of 10 games.
"We're improving. That's the main thing, what we've been striving for. Pleasing to see good signs.
"Lots of things we like, lots of things to improve on. Don't want to get carried away, but it encourages (me) to keep working and look for more."
While he also claimed he was not "disregarding" the United game, he felt that the scoreline flattered Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men as it was "a game we played particularly well in".
Beating the Red Devils will move his side one step closer to his first trophy as a manager and the club great confirmed he had no plans "to take this game lightly even if I make changes".
"It helps they are playing well. That's the nice feeling around at the minute," Lampard, who will again be without Antonio Rudiger and N'Golo Kante, said. "They are playing and I have to take that into account about rest.
"A day at Wembley (if they reach the final) should never be taken lightly. But not just for the young boys. We'll give it our all (for silverware).
"We'll target them all. It comes earliest in the year and (we're) potentially in the quarter-finals early. We want to win every game, but we're up against a top opponent tomorrow. Every game, you have to give everything to try and win."
Solskjaer is also not expecting a similar scoreline at Stamford Bridge as both sides meet for the first time since August.
Hailing Chelsea's streak that has been powered by youth-team graduates Mason Mount, Tammy Abraham, Fikayo Tomori and Callum Hudson-Odoi as "very exciting", the United manager claimed Lampard's burgeoning team were at a different stage of development.
He said at his pre-match press conference yesterday: "Frank has got players that have been on loan for one or two seasons in the Championship.
"The difference between my youngsters is that they are almost stepping right now onto the scene."
While academy products Brandon Williams and James Garner are in line to start, they will be missing Paul Pogba, whom Solskjaer revealed would be spending at least another month on the sidelines.
The France midfielder has already missed eight of United's last 10 matches with an ankle injury, and although it is a blow as the team endures an indifferent start to the term, the Norwegian is hopeful that Fred and Andreas Pereira can cover for his absence.
"The two Brazilians, to be fair, they are going to be important for us," Solskjaer said.
"Fred will probably take Paul's position for a while now and that's been brilliant for us.
"Andreas has grown in the last few games. His energy and running, chasing, he is a different sort of 10.
"There is no use talking about who is not going to be here for a long, long time... Paul's been brilliant and he is a creative midfielder that we need, but then it is up to the others to step up."
CHELSEA V MAN UNITED
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