Frank Lampard expects this season’s Premier League title to be won with a significantly-lower points tally than in recent years.
Manchester City and Liverpool have lifted the trophy over the last three years with tallies of 100, 98 and 99 points, while Chelsea managed 93 in a dominant 2016-17 campaign.
This season’s battle is shaping up to be much closer among a number of contenders, with Tottenham and Liverpool currently leading the way with 25 points from 12 games, narrowly ahead of Leicester, Southampton and Chelsea.
Lampard said: “I think that’s just where we’re at this season. We felt it first hand at the weekend with Everton. They’ve got good players, they invested in the summer, they’re a good squad, they were well organised and they made it very difficult for us.
“And watching the games on Sunday, you see that all over the place. The league is getting tighter for whatever reason. I think teams are strengthening, they’re very well organised and I think certainly I felt our preparation into the season was slightly different so we’ve been a bit of a work in progress.
“We feel ourselves we’ve already lost some points we maybe wouldn’t have done. Everyone will feel that in their own ways. We have to make sure we just maintain our levels and keep improving to stay in that.”
Lampard used Saturday’s 1-0 defeat by Everton to hit back at pundits who have been talking up his side as potential title favourites after a 17-game unbeaten run.
He said: “We’ve got some new players that have come in and people maybe want to look at the price-tag but, at the same time, some of them are young players that are coming to play in this league for the first time and that clearly needs a little bit of time.
“So there’s a lot of elements to the squad. I believe we will improve, we are improving, but strong squads will only be referred to when you win something.”
Lampard, meanwhile, expects Wolves to have been strengthened as a squad by the horrific head injury suffered by Raul Jimenez.
The striker sustained a fractured skull during last month’s victory over Arsenal in a sickening clash of heads with David Luiz and spent more than a week in hospital.
Lampard has first-hand experience of a similar situation having witnessed former Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech suffer a fractured skull during a match against Reading in 2006.
“It actually galvanised us,” said Lampard.
“We lost a great goalkeeper for a period of time but, when you have that critical of an injury – I saw the images of Jimenez turning up at the training ground last week and seeing all his team-mates again and I’m sure it would have almost galvanised some strength within the group because team-mates, friends, within that, you worry about players with injuries anyway.
“It’s a very difficult job when you’re injured and out let alone when that injury could be more threatening to your health than the standard kind of injury. So I’m sure it will make them stronger but they miss obviously a very good player at the same time.
“It’s a difficult situation, one I don’t like to see, whether it’s our team, like it was with Petr, or an opponent. I’d rather play against Wolves with a fit, healthy Jimenez of course even though he’s a top player.”