Luton chief doesn't want his Hatters side to be the team that struggling Chelsea find their form against
The Hatters head to Stamford Bridge tomorrow afternoon for an FA Cup fourth round tie, taking on a Blues team who have heaped increasing pressure on their manager Frank Lampard with a mixed set of results.
Just six weeks ago, the former champions were sitting third in the Premier League standings, two points off top, and being spoken about as mounting a realistic title challenge.
However, just over a month later and a run of five defeats from eight league games, beaten 2-0 by Leicester City last time out, has seen them take just seven points from a possible 24 and slide down to eighth, with any talk of top spot gone and Lampard seemingly edging close to the sack unless he can inspire a turnaround.
Jones wants to make sure that doesn’t come against his team though, saying: “As a manager, you’re always under pressure, no matter what club you’re at.
“Five weeks ago, he wasn’t and in five weeks’ time he might not be.
“We’ll mention that this is not a Chelsea side that has absolutely been hammering teams at the top of the league, but we also know how football can turn.
“We also know that in five weeks this could be the Chelsea team that clicks and is hammering teams, but we don’t want to be the team that they found their form against.
“It could be one of two things.
"It could either be the worst fixture they could have, or probably one of the better ones, so what we will do is prepare in a way that makes us the most potent we could be, while paying a fantastic football club and team the ultimate respect.
“But we won’t plan to give them too much respect. What we’ll do is plan like we do any other game.
“We try to win every game we play and we identify strengths and weaknesses.
"With Chelsea, they have increased strengths and less weaknesses for a Championship side to exploit.
“For a team like Leicester, for example, they saw a real opportunity, went for it and took it.
"If we can put in that kind of performance then I will be extremely proud.
“We have to pay them respect, but realise that it’s a game of football and we have to be the best versions of ourselves.
"If we do that, then we have a chance, and a good chance.”
Despite being in a poor position, Lampard has an array of international stars at his disposal to choose from, while spending well over £100m in the summer to bolster his attacking options, bringing in Kai Havertz from Bayer Leverkusen for £71m, also splashing out £45m on RB Leipzig's Timo Werner and £33m for Ajax's Hakim Ziyech.
All three played against Morecambe in the previous round, Chelsea winning 4-0, current England international Mason Mount also starting, Jones wasn’t going to concern himself with trying to work out what kind of 11 Lampard will send into battle.
He continued: “There’s no point trying to second guess anything that we can’t control, you could drive yourself barmy.
“They have a wonderful squad, whoever they play.
“They’ve got a host of young players, if they want to play those they could, but I would imagine there’ll be at least 10 internationals starting, maybe 11.
“Whatever happens is they’ll be an extremely talented team that’s every year finished top four in the Premier League, so it’s going to be a massive test.
"But we have to make sure that we’re the best version of ourselves and if we’re the best version of ourselves then it will be up to Chelsea to be the best version of themselves.
"If both teams come out like that it would very tough for us to beat them, but what we have to hope for is that they have a chink in their armour, that we find it, exploit it and we have a very, very good day.
“Whoever they play it will be a massive, massive test and we’re under no illusions.
“They’re a fantastic club, a fantastic side and we know that it’s going to be extremely tough.”
Going up against a Premier League side isn’t too new an experience for the Hatters, having been drawn against Manchester United in the Carabao Cup earlier in the campaign.
Although beaten 3-0 on the night, Town put in a sterling showing and were only put the sword late on when chasing an equaliser, the Red Devils bringing on Marcus Rashford, Mason Greenwood and Bruno Fernandes to seal the job.
Jones added: “We came up against Man United earlier in the season and were very organised, worked really hard, took it to the wire as we were 1-0 down to a penalty.
"(Dean) Henderson made a wonderful save around 86 minutes from Tom Lockyer and then they brought on superstars that put the game beyond us when we were really chasing, so we showed that we gave a good account ourselves.
“It’s not the same as going to Championship sides, it will be a totally different test and we’re going to have to play extremely well, everyone’s going to have to play well.
"We're going to have to defend well, cause them problems for something magnificent to happen, so it's tough.
“But we'll approach it the same way as we approach every other game, that’s not a cliche, we want to be positive in everything we do.
"We can’t go there and be gung-ho, can’t be negative, we have to prepare like we would if we were coming up against Chelsea in the league.
"It’s no different preparing for this game like we would have against Bournemouth, against Brentford, it's exactly the same way.
"We realise that they are a Champions League team but that’s the test that we really like."