Nearly a third of the way through the season, Chelsea sit third in the Premier League, one point ahead of preseason title-favorites Manchester City. And while Chelsea are a whopping 8 points behind the runaway leaders Liverpool, we’re also a whopping 9 points ahead of fifth place ... (double-checks notes) ... Sheffield United.
Basically, things are going pretty good, especially if we consider all the doom and gloom that was predicted when Chelsea were hit with the transfer ban, lost Eden Hazard, and appointed a manager with barely any actual management experience.
What’s the secret to our success? As ever, it’s a multitude of factors, but according to Mason Mount, it can be boiled down to a combination of confidence and passion.
“At the beginning of the season we knew what we had in the squad. We knew the quality and that the young players would be coming through and trying to make the step up to be big players in the team. We knew we had the quality, so we always set goals of being up near the top of the table. That was always our target. We’re doing very well at the moment, getting that momentum going, and that’s all you can ask for really.
“It means so much to us young boys to come through and have the belief and support from all the fans. We give all we have to win the games and to be playing well, because we want to win games for the fans. To have them behind us gives us that extra boost in games, to keep going. We all have so much passion for the game and to play for Chelsea. We’ve been through the Academy, we know what it’s like to step up and have that passion throughout and that drive to want to play for the badge.”
But of course, all the passion and confidence in the world won’t make up for a lack of talent. Fortunately, Chelsea do have the talent. I suppose this was part of the summer concern as well, but we always believed we had the talent and now they’re just getting the chance to shine. And shine they have indeed.
The youngest starting lineup Chelsea ever put out in a Premier League match, which is how Chelsea began Saturday’s 2-0 win over Crystal Palace, featured no fewer than four Academy graduates (Tammy Abraham, Fikayo Tomori, Reece James, and Mason Mount himself). In addition, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Billy Gilmour, and Andreas Christensen were on the bench (only Christensen didn’t feature), while Ruben Loftus-Cheek will soon recover from injury as well.
It’s not all about the youth, as Frank Lampard has repeatedly pointed out, but don’t tell that to the youths themselves! The world is their oyster. To a man, they’re taking their chances with almost unfaltering success.
“The manager is giving us the chance to step up and prove we’re ready. He’s given the chance to me, Tammy, Fikayo, Reece on Saturday. It’s not that you’re given it, you have to work for it in training and show him that you’re ready to play. When that day comes, you need to show you’re ready and step up.”
Mount, Abraham, and Tomori have taken their turns in the spotlight already. Now it’s Reece James’s turn, who apparently goes by the rather unimaginative and reductive nickname “Beast” in the dressing room. That’s probably the only disappointing thing about this situation.
“Reece is a very quiet boy. I’ve known him for a very, very long time, since eight or nine years old at the Academy here. He’s a very good boy, always works hard, and he’s got tremendous qualities. He’s going to be a brilliant player for us now and in the future as well.
“I call him the Beast, because he’s so quick, strong and powerful. You don’t want to get too close to him in training because he’ll get you off the ball, so you try to stay away from him. We all have a joke and a laugh, me, Tammy, Fikayo, Cal, Reece. We’ve all been together from a very young age so we know the ins and outs of all of us.”
-Mason Mount; source: Chelsea FC
Six wins in a row, but after the international break, we face the daunting task of going to the Etihad to play Manchester City and then traveling to Valencia for a make-or-break Champions League group game. The good vibes can turn sour just as quickly as they started.
The work never stops.