Manchester City is not more vulnerable than last season - Lampard

Despite three Premier League defeats, Manchester City is not more vulnerable now than it was last term, says Chelsea boss Frank Lampard.

Manchester City is nine points behind leader Liverpool   -  Getty Images

Frank Lampard does not believe Manchester City has suffered any drop off in quality from last season, adding Chelsea's hopes of lodging a title challenge will not end if it loses on Saturday.

The Blues sit third, a place and a point above defending champion City, and head to the Etihad Stadium on the back of six successive Premier League victories.

City lost 3-1 to leader Liverpool prior to the international break, taking its tally of defeats to the season to three.

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However, Lampard does not see City as being more vulnerable than it was last season, and insists Chelsea - which could finish the day in second place if results go its way - will not be downhearted if it loses.

"I don't think so. Premier League football, it's quite casual to say they've lost three games so they aren't as strong as last year. I still see them as the same. What they have and what they can do to teams," Lampard, who played for City for half of the 2014-15 season, told a news conference.

"I've been watching a lot of them in the international break. They've had their injury problems in defensive areas but they're a great team, a big as a threat as they've always been in recent years.

"The levels that themselves and Liverpool have reached over the past few seasons, it's been incredible to watch.

"I watched it from the Championship last season, I watched it in the studio the year before and I have nothing but respect for both of them so for us to be in that position is something I'm pleased with. I actually want more as well. 

"I look at ourselves predominantly and don't consider others, where could we have got more points and there are times when we should have done. It's nice to be up there and around it and it's a great test to see where we're at.

"It won't be the end of the story. You can go to Manchester City and lose, anyone can, it's a great side what Pep Guardiola has built, what the club has built over the past years. It won't be the end, win or lose. Our story is one that's three months in the making in terms of me being here and some of the younger players.

"Their story is one of four years and more, before Guardiola, of hard work and putting a team on the pitch that has real quality."

After initially struggling to make an impact following a move from Borussia Dortmund, Christian Pulisic has starred for Chelsea in recent matches, scoring five goals across three successive league appearances.

The winger did not feature for the United States in the international break, but Lampard is confident of having the 21-year-old fit for Saturday, though Callum Hudson-Odoi is set to miss out.

"We had full communication with the United States team and their manager and their medical team," Lampard said when asked about Pulisic. "I like to be really open and transparent with that, I respect that they want their best players. 

"He had a problem going into the last game against Crystal Palace and he was struggling which is why he came off after his goal. He's started to train again in midweek so he's in contention to play.

"Callum Hudson-Odoi is the one, he has a hamstring injury he got in the England game, so he'll struggle to be in contention for this game but we're hoping it's short term."