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Lampard sings praises of Chelsea incredibles N’Golo Kanté, Mason Mount, Christian Pulisic

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Plenty of plaudits to go around

Chelsea v Leeds United - Premier League Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

As people smarter than me like to say, football matches are often won and lost in midfield. Whoever can control, shut down, or otherwise get the upper hand (commensurate with the team’s tactics) in the middle of the pitch will, more often than not, emerge as the winners.

It is not at all accidental that our recent upturn in form has been predicated on a change of midfield shape and personnel, with N’Golo Kanté dropping primarily into a deeper, base position and flanked on either side by fluid yet attack-biased “No.8s”, two of Mason Mount, Kai Havertz, Mateo Kovačić.

That’s not to say that the improved play in goal, the improved organization in defense, and the improved quality and creativity in attack haven’t been important — it’s a team game after all — but a sorted midfield provides a solid base for both attack and defense.

Praise could and should be handed out to all the players involved in last night’s 3-1 win over Leeds United, but those singled out in Lampard’s post-match interviews (with or without prompting), include two of three midfielders — one of whom is universally adored, and the other not (yet).

The former is of course the one two and only N’Golo and his twin Kanté, who have seemingly — knock on wood — put the injury and form troubles of the recent past behind themselves and are once again operating at peak efficiency.

“I am fortunate enough to work with him [I can] ask him to do anything on the football pitch in a midfield sense. When [there’s] a test put in front of him he quietly goes about it in the most incredible way. Leeds’ midfield so mobile: the test was always gong to be there and I felt we dealt with it brilliantly. N’Golo was a big part of that.”

-Frank Lampard; source: Football.London

The other big part was young Mason Mount, who, like Kanté, has become undroppable. His universal adoration is still a work in progress, but so is he, given his very young age. And yet, when he’s on point, he already does make Chelsea’s midfield and Lampard’s tactics truly click.

“Mason Mount was superb tonight. Mason Mount was incredible.

“I asked for a lot of energy in this game, whatever we got, and Mason delivered — so did Chilwell and I could list the whole team. We were absolutely fantastic in dealing what was in front of us.”

-Frank Lampard; source: Chelsea TV

As Lampard told Chelsea TV, we could sit here all day and go through each player one by one, but we only have time right now for one more, one who was forced into more minutes than initial planned thanks to Hakim Ziyech’s injury — a risk given his own recent injury problems and the dropping temperatures of last night’s near-freezing conditions.

“Really pleased today. It’s been a difficult period for [Pulisic] with the injury and he gets frustrated because he wants to play. Having played 65 minutes in Seville I knew this game would have a huge amount of energy for the players and thought it was wise to start him on the bench. My plan was probably to give him 30 minutes.

“But to play the period of the game he played, with the intensity of the game and get his goal. He has an incredible gift, it sounds simple, but arriving in the six-yard box as a wide man, because that is where the goals are. So I was delighted that he got his goal and he is only going to get stronger now.”

-Frank Lampard; source: Football.London

Work it harder to make it better. Do it faster; it makes us stronger. But more than ever, hour after hour, our work is never over.

Cue the music.