Frank Lampard is happy with the development of his side in recent months but drops short of declaring when they will be title contenders.
He said: “I don't want to declare that at this point. Liverpool might have something to say about it.
“That has to be the aim. The transfer ban was one thing. It gave the staff a chance to look at the players, see what we have got and look at the youth.
“That has been good, and the more and more I see us play and the good and the bad, you change your feelings about how you want to go forward - but the endgame will always be the same.
“Once we can start bringing players in and the young players start to hopefully mature and get better, we want to bridge that gap to go up there.
“Whether we can do that next year I don't know. That will depend on the work we do and whether it hits home but I will certainly not leave any stone unturned in how I try to work to get us there.
“But there are too many variables. We have to get recruitment right, that will be a huge deal. Not just who the individuals are that come in, but can they help influence the way we play and the way we want to play?
“I have got a clear idea of what that is, it didn't look like the first 30 minutes against Arsenal, but we've shown at times this year that we've got a chance.”
Of that recruitment – Lampard feels he and the club are singing from the same hymn sheet.
“We are certainly joined up,” he said.
“I know we haven't done anything yet so there is no proof in that.
“We are joined up in terms that I have very close conversations with Marina, very close conversations with Petr Cech and Scott who is the head of our recruitment department. “They know what I want and I will be fundamentally in the middle of who and what we bring into the club. As it stands we are very open about that.
“If it feels right from my side on the footballing point in January, from the club side on the club point in January then we will make the moves we make. It is a joint up effort.”