'We must impose ourselves on United' - Lampard

November 24, 2006

COBHAM, England, Nov 24 (Reuters) - Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard has called on the Premier League champions to stamp their authority on Sunday's game at Manchester United right from the kickoff.

Chelsea, who are second in the table and three points behind a buoyant United, need to avoid the kind of slow start which led to their 1-0 league defeat at Old Trafford a year ago.

'It will be very important to start well, because I've watched United, we all have, for quite a lot of the season and they come out flying,' Lampard told a news conference on Friday.

'We have to start well and impose ourselves on the game.

'Once we do that, and play at our best, we're confident we can beat any team. It's important we play to our strengths.'

Looking back to their defeat last November, when United's early pressure led to midfielder Darren Fletcher's 31st minute winner, Lampard said: 'It was frustrating because we were on a very good run.

'We hadn't been beaten for a long time and we didn't deserve to lose the game. United are always starting at a high tempo... but in the second half we deserved to get something out of the game.

'But we didn't and we've got to be wary of a slow start this time.'

Sunday's game is a meeting of champions past and present with Chelsea, backed by Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, determined to become the new powerhouse in the game.

Asked about comments by Chelsea Chief Executive Peter Kenyon on Thursday that the west London club was looking to become bigger than United, Lampard said: 'That has to be our aim.

'Manchester United have set the target in terms of results on the pitch and off the pitch. They're a huge club and we're not there yet...but it's a target to aim for.'

As for United's current season, he added: 'I've been very impressed with them. They're playing well, they're top of the league - that speaks for itself.'

However, Chelsea can point to having already put in one big-match performance away from Stamford Bridge this season, having earned a 2-2 draw at holders Barcelona in the Champions League last month.

'In terms of the atmosphere and the spotlight we'll be under, it will be similar,' Lampard added.

'We had to show character and we had to show great belief in ourselves when we went to the Nou Camp...and we'll try to take that attitude to Man United.'

Despite the publicity surrounding the game, Lampard was wary of reading too much into its possible bearing on the title race, highlighting the fact that Arsenal won there in September but now trail United by 12 points.

'I watched Arsenal play United and Arsenal were the better team - and then afterwards United kicked on again,' he said.