The former Blues defender is expecting Frank Lampard’s side to be among the contenders in 2020-21, but believes others remain stronger
Chelsea cannot be considered Premier League title favourites, regardless of what Jurgen Klopp might think, says Mario Melchiot, with the Blues lacking the “ingredients” of Liverpool and Manchester City.
Frank Lampard has sought to address that issue by investing heavily in fresh faces at Stamford Bridge.
Value in big-money deals has been found, but a new-look outfit are still looking for the kind of consistency that has allowed domestic rivals to become so dominant over recent years.
Lampard has been eager to point out that his rebuilding project will take time and that Chelsea are looking to enjoy long-term success, rather than reap immediate rewards.
Liverpool boss Klopp has entered into mind games there, with the reigning champions claiming to view foes from west London as the most obvious threat to their crown.
Melchiot is not buying that, with the Reds still very much the team to beat in 2020-21, with Chelsea still a work in progress when it comes to challenging for the most prestigious of prizes.
The former Blues defender told Stadium Astro when asked if Lampard’s side are favourites this season: “I don’t think so. I would love to say it. But if you look at Liverpool, they have the ingredients to win it again. I see them being up there to win it again, along with Manchester City.
“Do Chelsea want to be up there? Of course, but these [a 1-0 defeat at Everton] are the kind of games they have to win if they are going to compete.
“Do I expect them to be in top four? Yes, that’s normal – especially with the investment they have made and bringing so many talented players into the squad. But the important part is to take a bit of pressure off your team by saying others are great, so that’s clever from Klopp.”
Lampard reiterated after a narrow defeat at Everton for his side that he considers title talk around his team to be “ridiculous”.
Melchiot can see where the Blues boss is coming from, with it clear that the west London giants still need to learn a number of important lessons when it comes to competing with the very best.
The Dutchman added: “He [Lampard] said what exactly what I thought.
“You know there is a test, it comes down to the battle. That mentality is in Everton’s side. You have to be real men. It does not always come down to the tactical side, it is down to fighting spirit.
“That is what Lampard called the test, and they didn’t live up to it. He said they will be better, so he is talking about the future. They will get tested more – their next game is against Wolves away. They will get another one again.
“Chelsea have the players and the quality but it comes down now to the fact the players have to perform every time. There are a lot of new players that might not know the league, but the games are coming fast.
“The league is won in December and January. If you don’t do well in those two months, or if you starting dropping points, that is when it becomes tricky.”