Chelsea’s 1-0 loss to West Ham over the weekend was filled to the brim with bad-to-worse individual performances. Clearly, that’s a poor way to go about trying to win a football match.
Conversely, Chelsea’s 2-1 win over Aston Villa last night was filled to the brim with good-to-great individual performances Much better way to go about things!
Afterwards, head coach Frank Lampard was asked about a few of them, and he was not shy in his praise. First up, Christian Pulisic.
Pulisic may not have gotten on the scoresheet, but it certainly wasn’t for a lack of trying. After a ridiculous streak of 6 goals in 6 games, he’s now gone without a goal in back-to-back games (he hasn’t done that since mid-October). But the confidence is still there, as he racked up another 5 shots to pace the side, just as he did over the weekend — alas, just the 1 shot on target from the 10, with several others getting desperation blocks from defenders in the penalty area. Just needs a bit of luck, one feels, to keep pouring in the goals in support of Tammy Abraham.
Lampard not only agrees, but has tipped the 21-year-old right to the very top. To the very top!
“Really impressed. I think he is playing really well. Since he came into the team, at Burnley got those goals and carried on with his form. He can score more but we’ve got a player in Christian that is really exciting and when you see this type of player in the modern day and you see their quality.
“He has got the ability to go on to the extra level, which is the top level of world football. At the minute he is doing really well and I hope he keeps that up.”
Consistency can be an issue with young players like Pulisic, and all the rest who comprise the Chelsea core these days — regardless of their previous senior experience — and we’ve seen that in recent weeks with Mason Mount, who’s dropped a level since his hot start to the season. But on Wednesday he was not only back in the goals with a sumptuous volley, he was back to his usual self in general play as well, especially in the second half.
Mount was nigh undroppable for much of the early season, but had started just 4 of the previous 7 games, including bench spots for two of Chelsea’s biggest games of the season thus far, away to Manchester City and Valencia. After last night, he’s probably in line for more undroppable-ness once again.
“I don’t think Mason should be measured surely on goals. We had an international break, we had a couple of games where he hasn’t started. It isn’t fair to look as simply as that, but goals are part of his game.
“His all round game in the second half was what we would expect of him. It wasn’t just the goal, it was the threat he had from the edge of the box. His link up and winning the ball in high areas, which is his game. So I thought he had a really good second half.”
Speaking of undroppable, Jorginho took a seat on the bench for just the second time all season in all competitions (in addition to missing one game through suspension), and in his absence, the N’Golo Kanté — Mateo Kovačić double pivot got a chance to shine.
Kovačić has been one of the most consistently excellent players all season, and that continued last night as well, but it was even nicer to see N’Golo Kanté continuing to stay healthy and getting back to his usual greatness. He has a little bit to go after the series of injuries that have limited him to just 11 appearances all season — any time Kanté gets turned in midfield, the Doomsday Clock ticks one towards midnight — but as Lampard pointed out, we all know he’s amazing and there’s no doubt about that!
“He is generally pretty much always good. I thought that from afar. But we had to give him a bit of time with his injuries this year. He’s had a tough start to it but his all round game, there’s not much you need to say to N’Golo. He just knows how to play the midfield role. I thought the balance between him and Kovacic today was great.
”His ability to win the ball, the high intensity to lead into areas and win it back, recovering it in areas but also to sit on the ball is what has given him this tag of being one of the outstanding players in world football for the last four or so seasons. It’s a pleasure to have him in my squad.”
-Frank Lampard; source: Football.London
Lampard also had plenty of praise for Tammy “Goal” Abraham, but maybe more on that later.
In the most crucial times, you need your big players and big personalities to step up, and Chelsea certainly did that yesterday. Now we need to keep that going as he we head into the madness of the festive fixtures.