Super Frankie Lampard. A loyal servant to the club for 14 years, the fan favourite and Chelsea legend has moved on to pastures new. With a CV to marvel at having won all major honours, Frank can officially call himself the most prolific player in the club’s history – surpassing Bobby Tambling to become Chelsea’s all-time leading goal scorer.
With Chelsea sitting pretty at the top of the league, it would be easy to play down the effect of Lampard’s departure, but the immediate impact he has had whilst on loan at Manchester City is a timely reminder of his priceless knack for scoring crucial goals. Look no further than his contribution off the bench against Sunderland on New Year’s Day – Lampard had not been on the pitch five minutes when he scored the winner in the five goal thriller. He has managed seven goals in his cameo in the North-West despite often not being given the start by the City boss.
Chelsea’s midfield position is certainly not a weak one – in Matic and Fabregas they have a perfect combination of creative flair and defensive stability. At 26 and 27 years old respectively, the duo are undoubtedly the future of the club and it was surely with that in mind that senior officials at the club allowed Lampard to become a free agent last summer.
Mourinho is rightly building a youthful team and with an average age of 26.9 years, Chelsea can boast a younger first choice starting XI than City’s 28.9 team average. One player that is bringing up that number is captain John Terry. Two years younger than Lampard, the Chelsea leader is enjoying a stellar season – featuring in Gary Neville & Jamie Carragher’s team of the season (so far). With Cech & Drogba most likely following Lampard out the door in the summer, Terry would be the last of the ‘old guard’ still at the club should he carry on his role at the heart of the defence.
The captain’s exceptional form this season is proof of the value more senior players can offer. Neither Terry nor Lampard is blessed with pace, but what they lack in that department they more than make up for in positional intelligence. Lampard’s tendency to find space in the box is his trademark and his experience in Europe will surely be missed as Chelsea look to emulate the highs of Munich in this year’s Champions League campaign.
Much is now made of players’ celebrations (or lack thereof) when they score against their previous employers. Indeed Alan Shearer slammed Lampard’s former team mate Romelu Lukaku for a muted celebration after netting against West Brom in respect of his time at the Hawthorns. But I don’t think anyone was criticising Frank when he elected not to celebrate his late equaliser at the Etihad against Chelsea back in September.
Just how important that goal will prove to be is yet to be determined, but this is another season where the title race is destined for the final day. Indeed the only thing separating the two teams entering 2015 was alphabetical order. The eight point lead Chelsea had raced out to has now been cut to two. You just know Lampard will have another say in the title race yet.
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