Lampard rises to third in Chelsea all-time goal chart

LONDON - Frank Lampard was unstoppable in the 7-1 thrashing of Aston Villa on Saturday, a performance that bodes well for Chelsea's Premier League title push and England's World Cup hopes in South Africa in June.

The 31-year-old helped himself to four goals, two of them penalties, pulled all the strings in midfield and proved that after being criticised at various times this season he is hitting peak form at the right moment.

In taking his goal tally for the club to 151, the third highest in Chelsea's history, Lampard reached the 20-mark for the fifth time in six seasons - an incredible return for a midfield player.

NEWS: Lampard hits four as Chelsea hammer Villa

Only Kerry Dixon (193) and Bobby Tambling (202) have scored more goals for Chelsea than Lampard and they were both strikers.

"Our passing in the middle was fantastic today, the build-up to all the goals and penalties as well was great and that's when we're at our best," Lampard told the BBC.

After going out of the Champions League to Inter Milan and dropping two points at Blackburn Rovers last weekend - results that ramped up the pressure on manager Carlo Ancelotti for the first time since he took over from Guus Hiddink last year - Chelsea dusted themselves down and looked up for the fight.

They tore Villa to shreds in the second half with some free-flowing football that took their goal tally this week to 12 following the 5-0 win at Portsmouth in midweek.

"I had a good feeling before the game today after scoring against Portsmouth," Lampard said. "But you never do anything unless your team mates are playing well around you and today was us at our best and it showed what we are all about.


"Seven-one is a strong result but I think we fully deserved it today with the way we played. When it got to 3-1 you could see the confidence, and the game opened up and we grew and grew.

"We are a point behind (leaders Manchester United) now and we know we have dropped some points lately but we are determined to put that right and by scoring a lot of goals ... we'll take confidence into next week's game (at United)."

Chelsea assistant manager Ray Wilkins heaped praise on Lampard.

"When you take the work ethic the guy's got, it's no fluke," said Wilkins. "The guy works so hard day in day out. It's first class.

"When you've consistently scored goals and played the way he has for so many seasons you have to say he is world class.

"He has this ability to get forward but the ability to get back and defend as well. Every day in training he does this. He works so hard - he trains as he plays," added Wilkins.

"He is a credit to the game and a fantastic athlete. It's the perfect tonic for us before we go to Old Trafford."

Chelsea did not even need top scorer Didier Drogba, who was rested, adding to the misery for Villa manager Martin O'Neill whose side's hopes of finishing fourth have suddenly blown up in their faces.

"From our own viewpoint that wasn't good enough," he said of seventh-p