Chelsea ended this summer’s multi-country, multi-continent preseason tour with a 2-2 draw against 2018-19 Bundesliga fifth place finishers, Borussia Mönchengladbach. There were few surprises in Frank Lampard’s team selection, though one might have been the 90-minutes given to new / not new / but still kinda new boy Mason Mount in the No.10 role behind the striker.
Mönchengladbach pressed high, heavy and hard, which pinned Chelsea in our own half for much of the early going. After giving up two goals, the Blues found ways to retain possession and get on the scoresheet. Then, the equalizer came after Ross Barkley converted a penalty won by Mount. The 20-year-old latched onto a pass into the box and as he chopped the ball back, got his ankles clipped — his feet much too quick for the panicking defender.
Though Lampard spent last season with Mount at Derby County already, he’s seeing what the kid can do at the next level. And what he’s seeing is certainly pleasing.
“He has done a lot. I’m really happy with how he’s training, how he’s playing and his status in the group coming back here. The players recognise quality instantly but they also recognise work rate and character — and Mason has all of those.”
Ah yes, the intangibles. Though I suppose a bit of hustle, composure, level-headedness and humility plays rather well in a dressing room with a bunch of long-in-the-tooth veterans.
However, Mason’s aim has surely been to show he belongs, not just at Chelsea, but in the first-team. There’s always an aura of hope around young players that’s typically mystifying, and can easily evaporate with a few bad moments. It’s a credit to Mount that he has not looked out of place, and has given his manager a good kind of problem.
“He has given me a problem. Ross Barkley also had a good pre-season and Ruben Loftus-Cheek will be back later on. It’s good, as they’re all adaptable. It doesn’t have to be just one. They can play in a variety of positions. I couldn’t ask for more from what Mason has done.”
–Frank Lampard; source: Daily Mail
Replacing Eden Hazard’s goal output was always going to be a tough objective, but the transfer ban bumps the difficulty setting up a few notches. Since the club can’t turn a truckload of cash into a savior, having a young, hungry goal-scoring midfielder with quick feet and an affinity for crashing the penalty area is the next best thing.