Malouda fit, Lampard still out
Florent Malouda is fit for Chelsea, but Frank Lampard's return to action has been delayed once again.
By Rob Parrish
Last Updated: 05/11/10 9:06pm
Florent Malouda is fit for Chelsea's testing trip to Liverpool on Sunday but Frank Lampard's return to action has been delayed once again.
Blues boss Carlo Ancelotti had initially ruled the France international winger out of his side for this weekend after he suffered a twisted ankle in the midweek victory over Spartak Moscow in the UEFA Champions League.
The Italian then performed a U-turn in his Friday press conference and stated that the former Lyon flyer is in contention to feature at Anfield where the Blues will be looking to maintain their five-point lead at the top of the table.
But England international Lampard, who has not featured since the end of August due to a groin problem which has taken far longer than expected to heal, is still to return to full training.
Ancelotti, who has a slight doubt over Michael Essien for this weekend's clash, hopes the former West Ham man could come into contention to face Sunderland at Stamford Bridge next Sunday.
Ancelotti said: "Lampard is not available for this game. We have to take our time again. Next week, finally, he will be ready to be available.
"He has started to train and the problem has moved on. We are taking our time because we want him to be 100 per cent fit because it was not an easy problem. We don't want to take a risk.
"The last thing is for him to train with his team-mates. He has done everything alone, he did a good session, shooting, and everything was OK. Now the next step is to train with his team-mates, maybe the beginning of next week, and I hope he will be ready against Sunderland.
"We have a little problem with Essien and we are not sure if he will be fit for Sunday. He has a problem on his toe. I hope, because it is a little problem, that he will be available to play. He will travel and we will make a decision on Sunday morning.
"Malouda is available to play, he has recovered very well."
Ancelotti has admitted that last season's 2-0 victory over Liverpool at Anfield in May was a vital victory as they went on to secure the Premier League crown.
The Reds struggled for form under new manager Roy Hodgson this season but have returned to winning ways in recent weeks and Thursday's 3-1 Europa League success against Napoli was their third victory in succession.
And Ancelotti knows his side will have to be on top of their game if they are to claim another three-point haul in their quest to retain the title.
"That was the most important game for us last season and was the key for us winning the title," he admitted
"Now we have to play against a different team. They have changed their manager and had some problems at the beginning of the season, but now they have moved on and have won their last three games.
"They are one of the best teams in England. There will be a fantastic atmosphere and they will have the support of their fans. To win there we will have to do our best. It is not enough to play at 90 per cent, we will have to be at 100 per cent to win there.
"Gerrard is in fantastic condition, the victory for them was very important to improve their confidence. We have to be ready to fight and to stay focused for all of the game."