Saturday 17 February 2018

Lampard rested for Sparta showdown

Rafael Benitez has promised that Frank Lampard will break the Chelsea goalscoring record this season, but he will not give him the chance to score his 200th tonight.

Lampard has scored 199 Chelsea goals, so he has an excellent chance of breaking Bobby Tambling's record of 202 before his possible departure this summer.

There will be no progress tonight, though, with Lampard rested for Chelsea's Europa League last-32 second leg at home against Sparta Prague.

Chelsea have been awash with midweek fixtures for months and, with his team 1-0 ahead from the first leg, Benitez has decided to leave Lampard out of tonight's squad, along with Demba Ba and Branislav Ivanovic.

"Ramires and Frank have been playing too many games. It's different in a normal team playing once a week. Here, the last five games could be in three weeks. Six games in three weeks is too much for anyone."

Chelsea visit Manchester City on Sunday – and victory would move them within one point of the Premier League champions.

"The manager has to keep an eye on everything if he can," Benitez said. "We are thinking a bit about that but the priority now is Sparta."

With Chelsea still having to play 12 Premier League games, Benitez is certain that Lampard will break Tambling's record.

"I can see how he trains and what he's doing," said Benitez. "I can see him scoring more goals. He'll score more than four or five before now and the end of the season."

chelsea v Sparta Prague, Live, Setanta Ireland, 8.05

Irish Independent

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