The Man. - via img.thesun.co.uk
Frank Lampard Jr. enters the 13/14 season with a shiny new one year contract, having taken his rightful place atop the club's most prolific goalscorers chart. The 35 year-old Englishman showed signs of age last season, but he demonstrated that he still offers value for money, making 47 appearances for club and country (42 for CFC). The Chelsea midfielder banged in 17 goals for his club in competitive matches, 11 coming from open play, while he converted 6 of 7 from the penalty spot (one saved by Joe Hart back in February).
The man who wore the armband on May 19th looks to fully transition to a newer role at the club. He's seen his position change over the last few seasons, as he's taken up a deeper spot in the midfield, seeing 28 starts there in the EPL and Europe combined. He also contributed heavily to the goal tally, topping the team's EPL goal list with 15 to Mata's 12.
- via WhoScored.com
However, it remains to be seen how much contribution "Super Frank" will be able to put forth this year. Often cited as the hardest trainer, Lampard will need to uphold that reputation to keep fit throughout the season and compete with of his young teammates. The addition of Marco Van Ginkel to the squad, and the return of Michael Essien from loan could very well have an effect on the number 8's playing time. Club legend or not, Lampard will surely be fighting for a place in long-time friend Jose Mourinho's starting XI. He was happy to tell Frank he ought to stay with Chelsea, but that was before he knew he'd be at the helm this season.
Nice trophy, Frank. - via chelseanewsletter.files.wordpress.com
Unfortunately, the first preseason game has come and gone, and we've learned only a little of how Lamps will be used this season. The English genius was slated to appear in the first half alongside Essien in the pivot but was apparently hampered by a small injury before the match, and didn't make it onto the pitch. Luckily, it appears it won't be anything keeping him out long term. With Mikel and Oscar still on holiday and Van Ginkel new to the squad, Lampard seemed to be one of the only sensible options for the pivot. I don't want to read into it too much, but looking to start him ahead of Ramires was an interesting move.
203? Easy peezy. - via l3.yimg.com
Since Mourinho has made it pretty clear that the 4-2-3-1 was going to be used as his primary formation, that leaves one spot in the pivot for him. His competition for that position will likely be MVG and Ramires, so it will probably be one of the storylines to watch this season, seeing how those three compete for time. As we've seen over the past few seasons, the corners and free kicks so often taken by the English midfielder have been spread out to other players in the squad slowly but surely. Thus, another thing to be looking for is who begins to step up as the team's primary kick specialist (Mata and De Bruyne are good bets), and who takes over as chief penalty taker (Luiz, Hazard, Lukaku?).
Lamps has an outstanding record from the spot, but he won't be around forever. In fact, this could be Frank's last season in royal blue if he can't keep up with the high demands of this newest Chelsea side. That's why I'm going to hold onto every single moment of his performances this season and you should too. I don't want to leave you in tears; even if this season sees him fade away instead of riding off into the sunset, we'll always have these:
There are four more parts to that. Eat your heart out. I wish I had more for you in this early piece, but the truth of the matter is that this preseason is a big question mark for our heroic number 8. Best of luck, Lamps. Let's get another trophy or two together!
A REMINDER TO ALL: Do what you can to follow the schedule, pretty please. We don't want to overload the site. Posts should probably come in at about 500-1000 words, so we can keep them relatively brief. This is just the first go-round, the teaser, if you will. I'm excited to read what everyone has to say! KTBFFH!