Giant-killers Wolverhampton Wanderers hadn’t lost at home in any competition since January 2, a run of 16 straight games. Frank Lampard’s young Chelsea squad, slowed by multiple key injuries, had won just 1 of the first 4 Premier League games. Naturally, expectations were kept in check before the game, and probably even lowered when Chelsea started off looking stale in attack and dodgy on the counter. Until the clock struck 31, and Fikayo Tomori let fly a curling effort past the bamboozled Rui Patricio.
It was the beginning of a fantastic attacking performance as nerves calmed down at the Molineux, where top-six teams usually struggle to score, let alone put five in the back of the net. Afterwards, Lampard was nothing but delighted with the win.
“It’s a tough place to come. They haven’t lost here for a long time. They get good results against the top six teams because they defend so well and are dangerous on the counter-attack.
“We changed the system. The players took that on board really well. I’m delighted to come here and score five goals because not many teams do that.”
Lampard has often talked about wanting his team to be tactically flexible and adaptable as per the opposition at hand. Today, those words came into wonderful focus, with Lampard’s team selection and decision to play with three central defenders. Initial confusion on and off the pitch at the return of the 3-4-3 led to justified praise 90 minutes later.
For Lampard, the praise belonged to the players who executed his instructions and did not betray the work they had done in training all week.
“[Wolves] play three at the back and they play it very well. There are two points really. One is we’ve conceded more than we’d have liked to. We had Toni back fit and to have three centre-halves gives you a bit more security on face value.
“And also I want us to be adaptable in an attacking sense. What it allowed us to do today is get Mason and Willian in really nice positions, inside wingers, behind Tammy. They caused Wolves exactly the problems we wanted to cause them. It was good to see the work we had done on it come off.”
Tomori, Mason Mount, and hat-trick hero Tammy Abraham shared the five goals between themselves, continuing Chelsea’s 100 per cent record in the Premier League of goals from homegrown Academy graduates — now up to 11 in total, with Tammy contributing 7, Mason 3, and Fikayo the 1 today.
It’s a testament to not their skills and talent but the coaching staff’s trust in the kids, as we ll as the good work dome by all those who work tirelessly year in and year out in the Academy itself.
“They’re delighted. They’ve worked for years. They bring players through with a great attitude and desire.
“We had a couple of pints in the week with Neil Bath (head of youth development) and the Academy staff because I think it’s important the club is joined up. It doesn’t mean young players are going to start every week, but there must be a connection. When they work for hours and hours with these young players, and invest time, it’s nice for them to see.
“When I sit here and Tammy’s scoring and it makes me happy, we should also praise Neil Bath, Jim Fraser (assistant head of youth development) and all the Academy staff.”
Days like today is what we had imagined when the promise of a youth revolution began this summer. But tomorrow it will be back to work and getting ready for Valencia on Tuesday. Let’s keep this going!