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Lampard on Kante position, Mount influence, and winning his first Chelsea home game

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Lampard only worried about three points in emotional return to Stamford Bridge

FBL-ENG-PR-CHELSEA-LEICESTER-LAMPARD-PRESSER Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images

Chelsea’s game against Leicester City on Sunday will be the third in a span of just eight days. While the performances have been encouraging, especially against Liverpool in the Super Cup, the final result is what really counts, and so Chelsea will be looking to open our points-scoring account with a win at home.

Facing the Blues will be Leicester City, managed by former Chelsea youth and reserves coach Brendan Rodgers. Lampard is well aware of Rodgers’ credentials, as well as the Foxes’ impressive summer transfer window. A win will be tough to secure but that’s what the focus is on.

“A win is obviously important as we want to win all our games and we want to win at home considering we lost the first league game. It’s a big game for us in front of our home fans for the first time this season.

“I know Brendan well and he’s got a great group of players there, a nice mix of some top quality young players and experienced players. They’ll be well coached so we have a big challenge.”

“It is important how our mindset is going into this game. It has been a strange two games. We can’t think that the really strong performance from Wednesday will replicate itself when we walk out on that pitch. So it is important we tackle it head on with a real focus because I believe in the quality of the squad. If we are fit as we are at the minute, which I believe in, even early in the season. That, with the quality we have got, we should win the game.”

Top of that quality pile is undoubtedly a certain N’Golo Kante, who made his first start of the summer on Wednesday and promptly produced a masterclass. It was perhaps notable that Kante played in the same position as last year under Sarri, in a midfield-three rather than the midfield-two like under Ranieri or Conte. What should be abundantly clear by now is that Kante isn’t a lone holding midfielder, never was, and probably never will be. He’s far too good for such a restricted role.

“It’s been a discussion that has been overtalked at times last year and that was me watching it from the outside.

“The important thing for me with all of our midfield is that we have a flexibility and nobody is pinned down to an absolute structure. I think we saw elements of that against Liverpool where the players have a freedom to use their attributes.

“This idea that he wins the ball probably as well as anybody in world football doesn’t mean that he has to sit in front of the back four and do that. He also has too much in his game to drive forward with the ball, to lead midfield areas and win the ball back high up the pitch. That’s what I want to give him the freedom to do.

Another midfielder whose name has been brought up often in the early season is young Mason Mount. He was put on blast by the media for his performance against Manchester United, prompting Lampard to already have to double down on his support for the 20-year-old. While Mount did not start against Liverpool, he did come on for Christian Pulisic on the left wing, showing great versatility that should suit him well in the competition for minutes at the club this season.

“Mason is a young player, his attitude is so good. He is so hungry but he has a very good understanding of what he needs to be as a player. He trains every day with absolute application and focus.

“The two games he has played now and the impact he made on Wednesday against Manchester United gives me confidence that this will be a good season for him. It won’t be clear, will he start every game? Probably not. But if he carries on the way he is going then he will be a huge influence for us.”

-Frank Lampard; source: Football.London

Chelsea have played every preseason game as well as the first two competitive fixtures this summer away from home, which means that Sunday’s game will mark Lampard’s first game in charge at Stamford Bridge, his home for 13 years as a player. He will receive a fantastic welcome, undoubtedly, though he himself is fully focused on the three points up for grabs.

“Pride. I’m proud to manage this club. I have been back to Stamford Bridge a couple of times since I left here as a player and was lucky enough to have really good support.

“It’s going to be an emotional, special day for me but that’s just for me. The most important thing for us is trying to get the three points and that’s what I am really worried about.”

- Frank Lampard; source: Chelsea FC

Here’s hoping for an emphatic victory to celebrate Lampard’s homecoming.