Football

Frank Lampard still has plenty to offer

Lampard is still important to Chelsea. (©GettyImages)
Lampard is still important to Chelsea. (©GettyImages).

For what seems like an eternity, Frank Lampard has been the main man in Chelsea’s midfield.

The array of abilities laced up in his size 10s is really quite staggering, he has a solid defensive side to his game, massively underrated short and long passing and of course the goals.

I have seen in various forums and comment sections recently quite a lot of people questioning Super Frank’s place in the team. Should he still be starting? Used as a super sub? Or is his role now restricted to squad depth and injury cover?

Lampard's career is littered with mind blowing statistics, my favourite being that when you add his assists and goals together throughout his entire senior career you get 389 goals he has played a key part in. 389!!

He recently fired in his 204th goal for the club which is something I still struggle to get my head around. I mean, how can a central midfielder score more goals than the majority of strikers?

For club and country last season he managed 22 goals and registered nine assists in 47 matches. This season he has started in blistering form, in six games Lampard has scored five goals and provided one assist for club and country. Not bad for a 35-year-old eh?

The fundamental reason Lampard has been so prolific throughout his career is down to his impeccable timing and positioning. Throughout the years he has developed the expertise to know exactly when to get into the box, when to hover 30 yards out, and when to sit in a deeper position.

That experience is now making up for any loss of pace he has suffered recently, and which is why he still remains one of the deadliest goal scoring midfielders in the game.

The second basis of his incredible statistics rests in his ability at set pieces, whether it's penalties, short and long free kicks or corners he is dangerous.

Lampard showed against Hull City on Sunday he still has a 35-yard free-kick in his locker, and despite also missing a penalty, I would happily bet my milk money on him scoring every time he steps up to the penalty spot.

It isn’t just direct goals he threatens with a dead ball, countless times we have seen Lampard curl a corner or free-kick onto the forehead of Didier Drogba or John Terry. One of the cornerstones of Chelsea’s success over the years has been their strength in the air at set pieces and a huge part of that is down to Lampard's delivery.

Lampard has never received the credit for his passing that I feel he deserves. The amount of goals he scores means that nobody really talks about anything else and yet he is easily one of the best distributors of the ball in the Premier League.

A case point is Ramires stunning volley against Barcelona during the club's glorious Champions League semi-final victory. The Brazilian rightly got the praise for a sensational strike, but the ball from Lampard to find him was superb.

In one movement he stole the ball from Lionel Messi (which is impressive enough, I know) and flicked it through the Barcelona back line. The pass was tempting enough to make Victor Valdes rush out to try and collect the ball, but short enough for Ramires to get to it first.

When you watch it back, it looks simple and effortless, but to play an inch perfect pass, in what Lampard described as the toughest match of his career, shortly after conceding takes some serious talent.

With Terry’s injuries over the recent years the club has needed a leader on the pitch, Lampard effortlessly takes control if Terry is unavailable, which is a trait that needs commending. Just because a player is world class it certainly doesn’t mean they are a natural captain.

Ashley Cole hates getting the armband and has no interest in ever wearing it despite being one of the most experienced players in the world. There are games where the armband is little more than a fashion accessory but at Chelsea’s level the majority of games require a lot of on-pitch organizing and having several players capable of doing that is vital.

Liverpool without Steven Gerrard are half the team but, with Lampard, Chelsea have a vice-captain just as adept as Terry himself. Going back to the game against Barcelona, Chelsea were down to ten men and Terry was off the pitch. Lampard had the unenviable job of keeping the team's shape and discipline in check whilst also trying to spring counter attacks.

To do all that in such a pressurized situation and still be able to have a positive impact on the game is the mark of a special player and true leader.

With the implementation of the 4-2-3-1 formation, Lampard has seen his role changed to a more reserved holding role. Because of his ability going forward he has been at times caught out of position, but nowhere near enough for it to be a big issue in my opinion.

I reckon there are bigger problems to be focusing on in the squad, like Demba Ba’s inability to stay on side (but that's for another article) and when all things are considered having Lampard on the pitch is only going to help the team.

He is insanely fit and has been his whole career, he has rarely been injured over the years and his stamina is no less than any other player in the team. Lampard does a few hours of yoga every single day which is the reason that at 35 he still plays like a 30-year-old.

Ryan Giggs is another yoga fiend and it is obvious it has worked well for him, even at 40 he still starts for Manchester United, still has a strong impact in matches, until that stops happening he will undoubtedly be a part of David Moyes' first-team.

Gary Neville once said when he became more of a threat to his own team than the opposition was the day he would retire, which seems like good logic to me. On that basis Super Frank isn’t even close to hanging up his boots.

His experience, leadership, expertise at set pieces and goal threat means he would start every match he could if I was the boss and somehow, I think Mourinho will agree with me on this one.

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Topics:
Premier League
Football
Chelsea

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