Cech predicts Lampard twist
Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech believes it is conceivable Frank Lampard will still be at Stamford Bridge next season after all.
It appears the long-serving midfielder is on his way out of the club he joined from West Ham in the summer of 2001, with Chelsea unwilling to offer him a new contract.
Lampard could sign a pre-contract agreement with a foreign club this month, and has been heavily linked with the Los Angeles Galaxy, but Cech thinks there may be a twist in the tale.
He said: "There are still six months to go until the end of the season so we will see whether he stays or not. I'm not a director but if he keeps playing like that he will keep asking about the extension."
If Lampard does leave Chelsea in the summer it seems increasingly likely he will do so as the club's all-time leading goalscorer.
The England midfielder increased his tally to 194 with a penalty in Saturday's 4-0 victory over Stoke, moving him clear of Kerry Dixon in second place and only eight behind record-holder Bobby Tambling.
Cech said: "The team has changed, his age has changed, but he's still important for the team. He might not start every game or play every game but when he plays he plays well with his quality and experience, so this is something that is great to see. I've known him for a long time and he's been a fantastic player for the club, and he continues to be so."
Chelsea interim boss Rafael Benitez appears to have no say in the decision, and he again insisted the uncertainty is not causing a problem.
"I have talked about this 100 times now," said the Spaniard. "He's under contract, he's a good player. He has to keep performing and he's fine. I think it's not an issue at the moment."
The result and performance at the Britannia Stadium provided further evidence that Chelsea are finding things more to their liking away from Stamford Bridge.
Benitez insisted it is because of the extra space afforded to his team rather than the atmosphere at Stamford Bridge, where fans' continuing discontent over the sacking of Roberto Di Matteo and hiring of Benitez is most evident.
Chelsea have lost their last two games at home, including to the Premier League's bottom side QPR, while they have won six in a row on the road.
Cech said: "In the last game against QPR we had all the chances and all the possession and we conceded a goal out of nowhere. Sometimes that's the way that football goes. It's a pity because with three more points we would be even closer (to the top of the table). This is a great win and if you don't confirm it by winning three points at home then you waste this great win. We don't want to do that.
"In the away games we have had fantastic support, which is great to see. Of course at home everybody expects a big win. When you have games like Aston Villa, the 8-0, and then suddenly the game against QPR came, people didn't like it, but that's football and if we win the next game then the crowd will be behind us again."
Saturday's win lifted Chelsea back above Tottenham into third place and they will play their game in hand on top two Manchester United and Manchester City against Southampton on Wednesday before a home clash with Arsenal next weekend.
Cech said: "We knew if we won our game then at least we would have a chance to close the gap. You never know what can happen. Then we have a game in hand, and obviously you target another three points. We have a big game against Arsenal coming up as well and if we had three wins then the table would look different for us again."
The biggest disappointment for Stoke was the part they played in their own downfall, with striker Jonathan Walters heading the first two goals into his own net and then missing a late penalty.
Goalkeeper Asmir Begovic said: "I am very disappointed. We knew it was going to be a tough game. They are the champions of Europe and they overpowered and outplayed us in the second half. One freak incident happened (the first goal) and fortune was on their side. That set us back just before half-time. It was just unfortunate, I don't think we deserved to lose 4-0. I think we gave a pretty decent account of ourselves for most of the game but with their class and ruthlessness they punished us."