Frank Lampard says his expensively reshaped Chelsea side “have to have intentions to be up there” with champions Liverpool after they began their campaign with victory at Brighton.
Chelsea finished 33 points adrift of the Reds last season and lost both league fixtures against them but have spent around £200m this summer.
Timo Werner – signed from RB Leipzig – and his Germany team-mate Kai Havertz – brought in from Bayer Leverkusen – made their debuts for a side forced to work hard for their 3-1 win at Brighton on Monday .
Werner was pacy and prominent in the victory, winning a 23rd-minute penalty when he was hauled down by Brighton keeper Mat Ryan, Jorginho scoring the resulting spot-kick.
The new signing had ice strapped to his leg at full-time following the collision to win the penalty but said he would be fit to face Liverpool in Sunday’s game at Stamford Bridge.
Brighton lost summer signing Adam Lallana to injury before the break but were back on level terms after 54 minutes when Leandro Trossard’s 20-yard shot squirmed past Chelsea keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga.
Chelsea regained their lead two minutes later when Reece James ripped a 25-yard right-foot shot high past Ryan.
Brighton should have equalised when Lewis Dunk somehow headed wide at the far post, paying the price for the miss when Kurt Zouma’s shot was deflected past Ryan by Adam Webster.
“We definitely want to close that gap to Liverpool – we have to have intentions to be up there even though it is a big ask to win [the title],” said Lampard, who has also signed midfielder Hakim Ziyech and defenders Xavier Mbuyamba, Malang Sarr, Ben Chilwell and Thiago Silva this summer.
“We are behind, it’s step by step. Hopefully, we can make big strides.”
Lampard will be delighted to leave Brighton win three points after what was a mixed performance, perhaps understandable for the first Premier League outing of the season.