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Lampard praises youngsters, but singles out Willian as once again Chelsea’s best

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An example to follow

Southampton FC v Chelsea FC - Premier League Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images

Leading the Chelsea youth revolution from the front is young Tammy Abraham whose opener against Southampton took him to the top of the Premier League goal charts alongside Sergio Aguero, with at 8 goals each.

After an indifferent start to the season, dealing with online abuse from “fans” as well as indecisiveness at crucial moments, and a bit of bad luck, the goal against Norwich opened the floodgates and Tammy has kept on scoring ever since — 9 goals in 8 games is an incredible standard, for any player at any age at any professional level.

Displaying some good hold up as well as link up skills, Tammy’s well on his way to becoming a complete striker, and repaying the faith shown in him by his manager Frank Lampard, who was once again full of (measured) praise for the youngster after Sunday’s 4-1 win.

“When people are in good form, things happen for them. It comes from how Tammy has handled himself all season, from pre-season, from early season when people were questioning him in different ways, and the work ethic behind the scenes that gets him in such good nick.

“He’s not just an incredible handful for defenders, with his running, holding the ball up and good feet; he’s getting the goals which is brilliant for him. I trusted in Tammy at the start of the season. I felt it was his time to come back to Chelsea. He also has Oli Giroud, a World Cup winner, and Michy Batshuayi, a top-class Premier League striker, and he has made the position his own in the short term.

“He has to keep that going because competition is key. Over the course of the season we will need everybody, but he deserves the great week he has had and the great season he is having. I’ll keep on him because I want more.”

Before making way for Batshuayi for the final few minutes, Abraham had appeared to be favoring his knee a little bit, having picked up a knock in the first-half from Southampton defender Jan Bednarek’s challenge. It would’ve been especially unfortunate for Tammy to be hurt now, given his recall to the England squad, but Lampard sounded confident that it was nothing too serious to be concerned about.

‘He’s fine. He took a bang on the back of the knee, but I think he wanted a round of applause!’

Another youngster worthy of praise on Sunday — (ed.note: not that there’s a shortage of them...) — was Callum Hudson-Odoi, making his first Premier League start since recovering from his Achilles injury. Having picked two assists in his previous two appearances, Hudson-Odoi added another one on Sunday, giving him three in three this season. But just as with the praise for Tammy, Lampard made it clear that he expects further and continuous improvement from the 18-year-old winger as well.

“He did well. It was a great assist for Tammy’s goal, a great ball. His work-rate was good, he stayed tight to the midfield and released himself to the full-back. It was all the things I want from the wingers. He could have got a goal, he got in behind a few times where he can be lethal. That’s where I want him.

“He can get better. He has had a serious injury so fitness has been a bit of an issue, and looking after him. Now he’s showing he’s getting towards proper match fitness.”

With the focus on the youth, Lampard has been making sure to repeatedly emphasize the necessary mix of veterans with youth in order to build a competitive team. It was no different on Sunday, with the boss picking out Willian once again as a prime example of what he wants to see from his players. Willian may not have scored, after finding the back of the net in each of his previous two appearances, but his contributions stood out at both ends of the pitch, making his manager quite happy indeed.

“The balance at the moment is good. It’s nice for me, it’s great to coach because the young players want to improve all the time, but you have to mention the experienced players around them.

“Willian was the standout today, without a doubt. If you wanted to show our wingers what we want from them, we would show them a video of his work ethic today, and his quality and burst of pace on the ball.

“In the last four or five games he has been our best player. It’s a great thing to say when you have got players who are examples on the pitch around these young boys.”

- Frank Lampard; source Chelsea FC

Chelsea head off for the international break with four wins in the last four games. The youth and the olds will hopefully be looking to continue this winning streak in a couple weeks’ time.

P.S.: Vice-captain Jorginho approved of Willian’s Man of the Match award as well.