Chelsea are not quite ready to challenge for a place in the Premier League's top two, according to Jose Mourinho, who sees top sides exploiting defensive weaknesses in Frank Lampard's team.
A 2-0 victory over Crystal Palace at Stamford Bridge on Saturday saw the Blues rise to third in the table, level with second-placed Leicester on 26 points.
Lampard's men are now eight points behind runaway leaders Liverpool after 12 fixtures, with a trip to the Etihad Stadium to face reigning champions Manchester City up next.
Chelsea have recovered from a slow start to emerge as genuine contenders for a place in the top four, but Mourinho, who won three Premier League titles over the course of two spells in charge of the club, is not convinced they
can fight for the title.
Manchester United beat the Blues 4-0 on the opening weekend of the season and also knocked them out of the Carabao Cup, while Liverpool have also got the better of Lampard's exciting young side in the Premier League.
Mourinho feels that those results, combined with a couple of disappointing performances in Europe, have highlighted defensive vulnerabilities which Lampard must address in order for Chelsea to close the gap between themselves and the leaders.
"In the first weekend I was worried and I’m still worried with the big matches," the Portuguese coach told Sky Sports. "I think fantastic work. The kids coming into the team are fitting amazingly well with the top-class players like Willian and Kante.
"I think really, really great work by Frank. But, they lost twice against United, they lost against Liverpool at home. They conceded four goals against Ajax and I’m very, very curious to see Chelsea in the next match at the Etihad.
"I’m curious to see if they found that great empathy between the good football they play and the pragmatism that the top teams must have to play against top teams.
"When they find that I think they have a great team for the future. I don’t believe in them to finish top two, but I believe very seriously for them to finish top four."