As Chelsea progressed into the FA Cup fourth round with a 4-0 win over Morecambe at Stamford Bridge, it was Frank Lampard’s team selection that got most of the attention.
The club’s all-time top goalscorer and manager opted for a very strong lineup against League Two opposition, with all of Kurt Zouma, Mason Mount, Kai Havertz, Hakim Ziyech, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Timo Werner starting for the Blues.
While the lineup obviously worked out as both Germans got a much needed goal, while Mount and Hudson-Odoi impressed with goals too, but it was the omission of Fikayo Tomori from the starting lineup that annoyed many Chelsea fans.
With Thiago Silva rested and Andreas Christensen ruled out with a knee injury, many expected the academy man to start alongside Antonio Rudiger. Instead though, Lampard decided to start Kurt Zouma and leave Tomori on the bench.
The 23-year-old came on as a substitute for the final ten minutes of the game and during the post-match press conference, Lampard confirmed that it’s possible Tomori will leave the club on loan during the January transfer window.
It seems a strange decision though. Lampard has worked with Tomori more than anyone else, managing the central defender during his year in charge of Derby too as he was the recipient of the Rams’ Player of the Year award.
He got into the first team at Chelsea last season under Lampard and did relatively well, but went through a bad spell of form and eventually lost his place. Since then though, he’s barely had a look in.
Lampard fell out with Rudiger during the summer and Tomori was a back-up centre-back option behind Thiago Silva and Zouma. But when Lampard and Rudiger kissed and made up, it was Tomori who fell to the wayside.
He was left with no time to sort a move away from the club and the ten minute cameo against Morecambe was the first time he appeared since the end of September.
Tomori has all the attributes to be an excellent defender. He’s physically a bit short maybe, but he is absolutely rapid, has a good spring to compete aerially, is good with both feet and is comfortable playing out from the back.
He is being linked with loan moves away, but that seems like a short-term solution before a permanent exit in the summer.
Should he leave, I have no doubts that he’ll make them regret their decision. A club looking to break into the top six or European places should definitely be looking to add him to their ranks.
With Silva and Zouma the first choice pairing, it’s not a shock that he isn’t starting games. They’re both better than him and should be ahead of him. But Christensen and Tomori are only better in reputation, not in performances.
Rudiger has been awful for a long period and his poor form was a big reason why Lampard moved to bring in Silva on a free transfer, while Christensen has shown that he struggles with the physicality of the Premier League over the years. Tomori deserves a chance to show why he should be relied on ahead of them.
I’m banking on Tomori to have a top level career, whether it’s at Stamford Bridge or not.