Deadline day was the best day in a long time if you’re an Everton fan, as they completed two big signings and announced a new manager.
After a two week search with plenty of rumours and fan protests, the club finally settled on Frank Lampard as their new manager with the official announcement coming on Monday lunchtime.
Quickly followed was confirmation that Manchester United midfielder Donny Van de Beek has completed a loan move until the end of the season, before the surprising news that Dele Alli had joined on a permanent move from Tottenham
It’s no surprise that Lampard played a big part in both players making the move to Goodison Park, considering both play in a fairly similar way to the way he did during his playing career.
As part of a midfield three or the most advanced in a two, Lampard made a career of arriving late in the box and scoring goals. He racked up striker numbers, and to this day is still the all-time top scorer in Chelsea history as well as the highest scoring midfielder in Premier League history.
Both Van de Beek and Dele have garnered a reputation as goalscoring midfielders, but are both young enough to develop their game and become even more complete. They believe Lampard can help them with that, but can he?
Most importantly for both players is the promise of regular game time, having been starved of football in recent years at their previous clubs.
There is the chance that he could field a 4-3-3 with both fielded as a number eight, but that leaves the defensive midfielder that he selects likely on an island on their own.
Stylistically there is an issue for Lampard to overcome, but there is a big potential that he will be able to unlock the best of both players to help drag Everton out of their relegation battle.
There is the opportunity to change the way the team plays football, emphasising possession and an attacking style rather than defensive structure like Rafa Benitez did.
If anyone can get them both firing it’s Lampard, but he’s proven to be tactically naive in the past with both Derby and Chelsea at times.
If he is to prove he has made bold improvements and strides forward as a manager in his year out of the game, he needs to get them both playing well together and save Everton from the drop.
The pressure is on, but he’s been backed by the board since day one so he has no excuses.
England’s next generation of managers are looking to get back to the Premier League as Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard get linked with new jobs.
Lampard has been without a club since being sacked by Chelsea in January, but has been linked with several jobs including Newcastle, Watford and Crystal Palace.
Gerrard on the other hand has found great success in Scotland with Rangers, ending Celtic’s dominance and winning the Scottish Premier League last season and also guiding them to a good run in the Europa League.
Reports suggest that Norwich are keen to bring in Lampard to help their battle for survival, with the Canaries currently sitting rock bottom of the league with just five points from 11 games this season.
Lampard is a young coach and with Norwich’s relatively young squad, Lampard’s love for youth players as shown at Chelsea could be a positive for him – especially with Scottish midfielder Billy Gilmour among the playing staff.
Gerrard on the other hand is among the top targets for the Aston Villa job, with the Midlands outfit keen to bring in someone to continue the progress that Smith made during his three years in charge.
Villa’s squad received great investment in the summer but obviously they lost Jack Grealish to Man City in a £100m deal and have failed in trying to adapt quickly.
But with Gerrard’s arrival, the club would have a new and fresh mindset on how to approach games and set up the team. The former Liverpool captain has seen his reputation as a manger grow exponentially over the last few years and he has been tipped to eventually become manager of his beloved Anfield club.
The transition to eventually take that job however would be better placed with a prior job in the league and Aston Villa present a brilliant opportunity for him to take over a club with a big fan base, a decent squad and not exaggerated expectations.
It would be a great coup for the league to get the name value of both back in the league, but it would also be a good chance for Lampard to build his reputation back up and for Gerrard to continue to grow as a coach with a step up.
The Blues are on the verge of signing young French centre-back Jules Kounde from Sevilla in a move worth around £60million to slot straight into their back-three, after Thomas Tuchel made him a priority signing for the summer.
But when you look at other deals that the west London side have made this summer, you start to question the fore-planning going on at Stamford Bridge when it comes to the academy once again.
Chelsea’s summer as European champions began with them losing their academy defensive crown jewel in Fikayo Tomori to AC Milan.
In January, Tomori was allowed to leave for Serie A on loan just before Frank Lampard was sacked and replaced by Tuchel. But interestingly, and weirdly, the loan deal included a very affordable clause to turn the deal permanent.
Unsurprisingly Tomori shone with Milan as they secured Champions League football for the first time since the 2013/14 season, and thus the Rossoneri decided to splash the cash and take him to Italy full-time.
Chelsea secured £25million for the 23-year-old and while fans were over the moon about the deal, the returning Marc Guehi from Swansea City on loan was seen to be an immediate replacement in the squad.
Instead, Chelsea couldn’t agree a new contract with the England youth international and Guehi was allowed to leave to sign for Premier League side Crystal Palace in a £21.5million deal. So that makes the Champions League holders two academy defenders down, hence the supposed move for Kounde.
But with a reported fee of £60m for Kounde, it begs the question about the pathway for academy players getting into the first-team once again.
One thing that Lampard did properly during his 18 months in charge at Stamford Bridge was open up a pathway for young players to believe they could make it to the first team from Cobham.
The likes of Reece James, Mason Mount, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Tammy Abraham all became regulars in the first-team squad under Lampard, while the likes of Tariq Lamptey and Tomori made their debuts too.
But now it seems as though that gateway to men’s football is being closed off once again as Chelsea prioritise success via money than a long-term plan.
There is nothing wrong with that, there is a clear method that works as they win trophies on a regular basis using this plan. But lots of fans and young players will see the lack of a pathway and could become more detached from the club.
Kounde is a top defender and without a doubt one of the best young centre-backs in world football right now. Is he better than Guehi, Tomori and any other academy defender at the club right now? Absolutely.
But is he £65million better? Probably not. Tuchel’s back three last season was mightily impressive when he was selecting from Cesar Azpilicueta, Andreas Christensen, Thiago Silva and Antonio Rudiger. There is no reason that they wouldn’t be as successful this season, with even more time to work on his methods and style.
He also has options of Trevor Chalobah and even Reece James for the centre-back role beyond them, so he’s not short on numbers.
Bringing in Kounde seems more like a statement signing than one they actually are in need of and makes sense. Keeping Guehi and putting more trust into that academy pathway would’ve been a big positive to everyone in the club as well as for fans that support them.
Chelsea are improving with Kounde and that is the most important thing, but don’t be surprised to see the young talent at the club grow more and more impatient as these signings become the norm once again.
Chelsea were crowned champions of Europe for the second time ever as Kai Havertz scored his first goal in the Champions League for the Blues in a 1-0 win over Manchester City.
In a highly entertaining tactical affair, Thomas Tuchel once again was able to get one over Pep Guardiola to make it three wins from three games between the two team in just six weeks.
Chelsea opted for a defensive set up as usual but the inclusion of Havertz over Ziyech, who had scored in both of the previous wins raised a few eyebrows before kick off. Not as much as Guardiola’s selection however, as he opted to play with no defensive midfielder or natural striker to flood the midfield areas.
That backfired though as Chelsea were able to press well and nullify them to just one shot on target over the entire game, while they themselves created several openings.
Timo Werner completely mishit the ball from seven yards out with a clear opening, before his touch let him down in the box and he could only roll a second effort into the hands of Ederson. Chelsea continued to threaten though and that’s when Mason Mount found a beautiful pass into Haverts in behind, who rounded Ederson before slotting into an empty net in the first half.
It was the first goal he had scored in the Champions League for Chelsea and just the ninth goal of his campaign in all competitions following a club record £72m move last summer.
It’s been a really tough season for the 21-year-old, who was the second youngest player only older than Phil Foden during the final. He’s clearly got the quality to become a top player, but he really struggled to make an impact in a more physical league where space and time on the ball was harder to come by.
Tuchel had started using him in a false nine position to get him that extra half a yard and his performances improved but they still weren’t glistening as they were with Leverkusen.
But in the one moment that he ran clear of Oleksandr Zinchenko and received Mount’s pass, then rounded Ederson and scored he has written himself into Chelsea folklore and immediately paid back his fee.
No matter what happens between now and whenever he eventually leaves Stamford Bridge, whether that’s next summer or in 10 years, he will go down as a Chelsea legend for winning them a second Champions League title.
It’s those moments that you spend big money on special talents for, because they can provide when it matters most. It’s why when a team fails the spending to build the team is brought to light, because you have to spend to bring quality and quality is expected to bring titles.
Werner still has some proving to do but he has been far more useful to Chelsea since Tuchel arrived, being used in a role that has seen him affect games even without scoring at the rate expected before his arrival.
But if he has another poor season, there will be question marks around him. That pressure has been lifted from Havertz, who will forever have the backing of fans and local media now.
As silly as that sounds it’s the truth. Bad performances won’t go unnoticed by fans, but if they eventually lead to him being displaced from the team or sold by the club he’ll go with applause and fantastic memories.
As for Tuchel, he is in the same boat. He’s now a Chelsea legend after less than six months at the club and will be rewarded with a new contract this summer to continue the good work he has done.
If you thought last summer was spectacular for Chelsea, wait till you see what they do this summer.
Crystal Palace have reportedly made Frank Lampard the number one candidate for their manager’s job with Roy Hodgson set to leave the club this summer.
Former England manager Hodgson turns 74 this post-season and his contract is set to expire at the end of the season after four seasons at the club. There has been plenty of speculation about whether he would renew once again, and while there has been no official confirmation either way yet it seems that the club are making their move for a new direction.
Hodgson told Sky Sports after their 3-1 defeat to Southampton on Tuesday night that he would make an announcement on his future “when he feels the time is right and not before,” which points to the former Inter and Liverpool manager leaving.
After what many would call a successful spell at the club, fans believe it is time to move on from his old-school ways and look to a more progressive coach.
The club previously attempted this when they hired Frank De Boer to take over, but he lost all seven of his games in charge without scoring a goal and was swiftly replaced by Hodgson.
But as Palace continue to have some excellent attacking talent in their squad such as Wilfried Zaha and Eberechi Eze, the south London club should begin to look at climbing into the top half of the table rather than just settling for avoiding relegation.
According to former striker Clinton Morrison on Sky, he claims “for a fact” that the club will be looking to go in a younger direction on the pitch from next season with 11 senior players seeing their contract expire this summer.
While it’s not expected they will all leave, the suggestion from The Telegraph is that former Chelsea manager Lampard could be approached about the job and given the final say on which players he keeps and which he lets go.
Lampard did relatively well with young players at Stamford Bridge, and did a similar role at Derby before that where he trusted youth and gave them plenty of opportunities to come into a first-team role.
It’s possible he could look to use those connections in west London to boost a Palace side that is one of the oldest in the division and needs strengthening.
But Lampard would be a good option for Palace to bring in as manager after so long under Hodgson. As good as he is, Roy’s priority is always to not lose the game and he sets teams up in such a way that they really rely on moments of individual brilliance to get points.
If Lampard is to take over he’ll want assurances of getting time to make sure he can get it right, but also time to implement an attacking style and to ensure he can get the right players. It gives him a chance to repair his reputation in the Premier League with a pretty steady team where there is plenty of room for growth and improvement.
For Palace it would show a positive mentality to improve and please their fans, while the players would likely be happy to work under a big name like Chelsea’s all-time top goalscorer.
It seems to be a move that would suit all parties, so I’ll continue to look on with interest to see how it unfolds.
The Premier League has formally announced a hall of fame for 2021 and the first two inductees are absolutely no shock to anyone.
Premier League all-time top goalscorer Alan Shearer and legendary Arsenal striker Thierry Henry were announced as the first men to enter the new hall of fame, along with a list of other nominees who could potentially enter after a fan vote.
23 other players have been made available to be inducted off the back of those votes, with each person able to vote for six of the 23. With criteria including a retirement date before August 2020, some players such as Wayne Rooney are ineligible but the options are still phenomenal.
The 23 players eligible to vote for are as follows:
Tony Adams, David Beckham, Dennis Bergkamp, Sol Campbell, Eric Cantona, Andy Cole, Ashley Cole, Didier Drogba, Les Ferdinand, Rio Ferdinand, Robbie Fowler, Steven Gerrard, Roy Keane, Frank Lampard, Matt Le Tissier, Michael Owen, Peter Schmeichel, Paul Scholes, John Terry, Robin van Persie, Nemanja Vidic, Patrick Vieira, Ian Wright.
In no particular order and taking a look at the full list of players, here’s my picks for who should join them.
It’s not often that the Premier League had a player who spent the vast majority of their career in the league and was one of the best ever in his position. That is something that Ashley Cole can claim for himself though.
The former Arsenal and Chelsea man was part of the ‘Invincibles’ that went unbeaten over an entire season and then won another title with the Blues as part of Carlo Ancelotti’s record breaking side. He was always one of the most reliable defenders in the division defensively, while making 385 appearances in the competition. For me the best full-back in Premier League history, he is a sure-fire pick to get in the hall of fame.
Another Cole up for nomination who deserves his flowers is Andrew, the former Newcastle, Manchester United, Blackburn, Manchester City, Fulham, Portsmouth and Sunderland striker.
Cole rose to prominence for the Magpies, scoring 43 goals in 58 Premier League appearances before a British record £6m + Keith Gillespie move to Old Trafford. He would go on to be a lethal number nine for Sir Alex Ferguson’s men, scoring 93 times in 195 Premier League games for the Red Devils.
He won five league titles with the Reds before leaving and when it was all said and done he finished up with 187 Premier League goals. That currently sits him behind on Alan Shearer and Wayne Rooney in the all-time charts, but what makes it even more special is that he never scored any of those goals from the penalty spot. Such a stunning record with such phenomenal success in the competition, he deserves his spot among the elite in the hall of fame.
It’s pretty hard to do a hall of fame and not have a huge influx of Manchester United players considering their leading 13 titles in the competition.
A huge part of that success was the midfield pairing of Roy Keane and Paul Scholes through the nineties and early 00’s, where together they won six Premier League titles. From the moment Scholes came through as part of the Class of 92, United were able to maintain their dominance in the competition and he became one of the most successful players to ever play in it.
Keane was successful before Scholes though, winning the title in 1993/94 alongside Paul Ince too and was then runner-up the year Blackburn shocked the world. The Irish international is regarded as the best captain in the league’s history and was also named in the PFA team of the century as well as the PFA team of the year five times.
Scholes won 11 titles during his time in the league and was included in two PFA team of the years too and scored over 100 league goals. Together they formed the best midfield pairing in the competition’s history but individually their successes stand out more than most and they both deserve their name to be enshrined among the greatest Premier League players ever.
That leaves two places and there’s no way that Frank Lampard can miss out. The former West Ham, Chelsea and Man City midfielder is the highest scoring midfielder in Premier League history and one of only two players to have more than 100 goals and assists.
Lampard broke into the Premier League scene after coming through the West Ham academy under his uncle Harry Redknapp’s tutelage. After initially struggling with the pace and physicality of the league he impressed enough to attract the attention of Claudio Ranieri across London and would go on to become a cornerstone of the Blues during the Roman Abramovich era.
With 177 Premier League goals to his name, he was key as Chelsea won three Premier League titles and ran Manchester United and Manchester City close several times. He was Chelsea’s top goalscorer domestically five times and went on to become the club’s all-time top goalscorer. He has to be included.
The final spot has to be between two of Lampard’s former teammates, Rio Ferdinand and John Terry. Two of the best central defenders in the world in their prime and two of the best in Premier League history, it’s hard to pick between the two.
For me though, one had more success and was the better defender of the two and therefore it’s Ferdinand who gets the nod. The former West Ham and Leeds defender won six league titles and was in six PFA team of the year’s during his Premier League career. Terry won five titles and was in the PFA team of the year four times, so there isn’t much between it in terms of honours but on the pitch the eye test is always the more telling way to separate players.
Ferdinand was able to play in a low-block, a high line or whatever is between the two. He had the pace to go one-on-one with any attacker in world football but also had the added quality on the ball that any top defender needs to have in a top team.
Terry was always at his best with less space behind him due to a lack of pace, which was criminally exposed during his short time playing under Andre Villas-Boas. He was able to play at the higher level for longer that Ferdinand, considering he struggled at QPR and Terry won the title in his final season despite not being a regular in the team any more.
It could go either way, and I may be biased, but Ferdinand for me was the best centre half England have ever produced and therefore deserves his flowers to be among the first inductions into the hall of fame.
The Frank Lampard era is over at Chelsea, as he was sacked by the Stamford Bridge board following a string of poor results.
Chelsea were top of the league in December following a win over Leeds, but five defeats in eight games since then have seen them fall 12 points behind league leaders Manchester United since then and it’s been enough for the club hierarchy to make the decision to let him go.
The news was quickly followed up with reports that he will be immediately replaced by German manager Thomas Tuchel, who was sacked by Paris Saint-Germain in December after an inconsistent season in France.
Tuchel is known for attacking football, with quick transitions and possession being the priority. He made his name as the Borussia Dortmund manager, where the likes of Ousmane Dembele, Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang and Marco Reus flourished under his management.
With Chelsea’s squad having just had a £220m injection of new players in the summer, it will be interesting to see how Tuchel sets up his team for the remainder of the season.
In goal, Edouard Mendy was the undisputed first choice under Lampard following his signing in the summer but reports say that the board are still keen for Kepa Arrizabalaga to be a success after spending £72m on him and giving him a seven-year contract back in 2018.
It’s possible that he could feel the pressure to select Kepa, but Mendy has performed well since joining and their distribution skills aren’t that different. Mendy should get the nod, but you never know once club politics come into it.
In defence, Thiago Silva will be the undisputed number one centre back at the club. The two worked together at PSG and Silva was the captain, so he will be in the side not only for his ability but also because he will know what the manager expects of him. Alongside him, Kurt Zouma has been a regular so far this season but Rudiger was a target for Tuchel at PSG earlier this season so he could come into the side.
Reece James’ performances and skillset should see him keep his place in the side as an attacking full-back, while Ben Chilwell and Emerson will continue to compete for the left-back spot. Chilwell is younger and better defensively, but Emerson is quicker and arguably better going forward. Depending on the way Tuchel looks to set up his team, Emerson has a good shout of becoming a regular.
In midfield, Ngolo Kante has been a sure-fire starter ever since joining the Blues and that is likely to continue here. A defensive midfielder with energy and an ability to break up play and press high, Kante fits the role perfectly of what Idrissa Gueye filled at PSG and Ilkay Gundogan did prior to that at Dortmund.
Alongside him, Tuchel is likely to want someone who is more competent on the ball and comfortable in possession. While Jorginho is a candidate, his lack of athleticism has seen him struggle hugely since joining the Premier League. Mason Mount has been a mainstay under Lampard and played relatively well but without having a relationship to the club and academy, Tuchel will likely opt for Mateo Kovacic over those options.
Ahead of them, Timo Werner and Kai Havertz are a huge reason as to why the club have brought him into the club as manager. The club were keen to have a German speaking manager to help them settle in better so they will almost certainly be the starters in the team as a number ten and the central striker.
Either side of them will be interesting. With his preference for possession and overlapping full-backs, Hakim Ziyech’s passing ability will likely see him secure his position on the right wing. On the left though, it’s more open.
Callum Hudson-Odoi has been good in spells this season but not really given the opportunity of a run of games from the start. His preferred position is to play on the left so he can drive onto his right foot and shoot, but he’s just as capable going on the outside and crossing too. The issue for him comes that Christian Pulisic played under Tuchel at Dortmund as a youngster and broke into the side for him.
He will know the skillset of the player, but more importantly the player will already be aware of the demands placed on him and expectations that the manager will have. Hudson-Odoi is arguably the better player right now, but Tuchel will want some familiarity to his methods if he can get it because it’s mid-season and this could buy Pulisic more time in the starting lineup.
Tuchel will need results and performances to pick up quickly to get fans on side with the decision to sack Lampard and bring him in and his team selections will be under scrutiny immediately.
One of the greatest managers in the history of the sport, Jose Mourinho has managed some of the greatest players the game has ever seen.
He also managed two of the best teams we’ve seen, during two separate eras and for two different reasons.
When Mourinho joined Chelsea as ‘The Special One’, he built one of the greatest defensive teams ever seen. During the 2004/05 season, the Blues conceded just 15 goals in the entire Premier League campaign as they strolled to a first title in 50 years before making it consecutive titles the following season too.
After leaving Chelsea and winning a treble with Inter Milan, Mourinho ended up at the Bernabeu as the manager of Real Madrid. There he would lock horns against Pep Guardiola and arguably the greatest club side ever in Barcelona and eventually break their stranglehold on the La Liga title.
His Madrid side were a goalscoring demon, scoring a record 121 goals during the league campaign as they recorded 100 points to win the title for the first time since 2008.
But who would win if the two sides met each other? Lets break it down.
Mourinho always loved building his teams from the back and that usually starts with the goalkeeper.
At Chelsea, he made the decision early on to replace long-time number one Carlo Cudicini with young Petr Cech. The signing from Rennes was completed before Jose arrived, but it was the Portuguese manager’s choice to put him in and keep him as the first choice. He won the Golden Glove award for keeping a record 21 clean sheets in his first season and conceded just 37 goals in two seasons combined, including a record low of 15 in the first.
For Real Madrid, the decision was much simpler. Club legend Iker Casillas was the number one pick at the club since he was a teenager and was still near the top of his game when Mourinho came in and he kept that position until Jose’s final season.
In defence, Mourinho’s Chelsea back four is legendary among Premier League circles. Paulo Ferreira and Ricardo Carvalho followed him from Porto and went straight into the side, while John Terry was already captain. William Gallas was a centre-back by nature, but filled in at left-back for Mourinho in place of Wayne Bridge as Mourinho opted for more physicality.
At Madrid, the defence selected itself. Alvaro Arbeloa had joined from Liverpool before Mourinho was hired, but he was the first choice right-back when they won the league because of a long-term injury to Mourinho’s trusted enforcer Carvalho who was also now at Madrid. This meant Sergio Ramos moved to centre-back alongside Pepe while Marcelo was still the first choice left-back ahead of Fabio Coentrao.
In midfield, Mourinho has almost always opted for physicality over intricacy and those patterns continue in these two sides.
At Chelsea, Frank Lampard and Claude Makelele were guaranteed starters in the first campaign while Michael Essien joined in the second season from Lyon. He replaced another Portuguese player in the side, as Tiago dropped out to accommodate the Ghanaian’s inclusion. He offered mobility, power, great passing and tenacity as well as an added goal threat for Mourinho, who looked to get even more from Frank Lampard.
Madrid’s midfield was more creative than Chelsea’s but still physical enough to withstand the battles it needed to get into. Xabi Alonso was the dictator from deep who was also able to break up play and defend, while Sami Khedira was the box-to-box option who marauded around the pitch chasing the ball to win it back but also to add extra threat in the opposition box on occasion.
The big difference was between Ozil and Lampard, with the German in the team to create while the England man was in the side to finish moves off. He finished as Chelsea’s top goalscorer in both of Mourinho’s first two seasons in England, scoring 19 and 20 goals respectively, while Ozil created 28 goals on his own in all competitions in 2011/12.
In attack, Chelsea were consistently clinical. Didier Drogba established himself as Mourinho’s first-choice centre forward, with the Ivory Coast international a physical presence with excellent link up play. He scored 30 goals in the two seasons combined under Jose, but it was ability to link with the wide men that made him invaluable.
In the first campaign Arjen Robben and Damien Duff played on opposite wings and terrorised defences, although the Dutchman was ravaged by injury problems during his time in London. In the second campaign, Robben continued at a similar rate but Joe Cole stepped up and essentially took over from Duff as his partner on the other side. Together they had pace, skill, a fantastic passing range and an eye for goal that carried Mourinho’s side to back-to-back championships.
In Madrid, the attack was much stronger in depth. Players like former Ballon d’Or winner Kaka and Gonzalo Higuain were restricted to roles as a substitute mainly because of the form of Karim Benzema, Angel Di Maria and the phenomenal Cristiano Ronaldo.
Di Maria scored seven goals and assisted 17, while Benzema scored 32 and assisted 19 during the campaign. Those numbers paled in comparison to Ronaldo though, who scored an incredible 60 goals to go with 15 assists in all competitions as Mourinho was able to topple Guardiola and Messi at the top of La Liga.
It would be a true contest of attack against defence if the two sides met and it is harder and harder to look past Real Madrid as the winners of any potential contest.
The quality of the attack is arguably the best we’ve seen in recent years barring Barcelona’s incredible ‘MSN’ trio and as good as Chelsea’s defence was, they never really came under significant threat in the Premier League. They never quite dominated in Europe, reaching a semi-final and then the last 16 so Madrid would obviously fancy their chances.
Defensively Madrid weren’t awful themselves, conceding only 32 goals in their league campaign and they also reached the Champions League semi-finals.
It would be a fantastic game, where we’d see the best of Mourinho’s two philosophies of football. ‘Park the bus’ vs ‘give it to Ronaldo’. Ronaldo wins for me.
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.