Football

Frank Lampard proves his importance to Manchester City

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When a 36-year-old Frank Lampard made the shock decision to join Manchester City on loan in August, you could have been forgiven for thinking it was little more than a publicity stunt by the Premier League champions.

Having signed for New York City following his Chelsea release, Lampard made a temporary move to the Etihad Stadium.

The short-term deal was one of the most shocking in Premier League history, with Chelsea fans having yet to come to terms with the fact their all-time record goalscorer was packing his bags and leaving Stamford Bridge.

Lampard's move meant he would have to wait until March, and the start of the MLS campaign, before he could play competitive football again.

However, Manchester City, a sister club of New York City, moved to offer Lampard the chance to continue his Premier League career.

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Fitness

On first glance, the move was the ideal chance for Lampard to maintain his fitness ahead of his American move while raising the profile of the MLS' newest franchise.

However, the 106-cap former England international insisted he wasn't simply there to make up the numbers in training and that was quickly proved by his starting role when City traveled to Arsenal in September.

He only lasted 45 minutes on the day, but his next outing in a light blue shirt proved monumental.

With City trailing Chelsea in a top of the table clash, Lampard was introduced and duly grabbed an equaliser to complete a script that would have been just as at home in Hollywood or New York as it was in Manchester.

Goals

Goalscoring had always been Lampard's forte, and he proved he hadn't lost his touch by netting three times in his next two City games.

The central midfielder quickly became a key man in Pellegrini's side, with his experience and know-how helping him become a firm favourite among City fans.

Just when it looked like the veteran was reaching his best again, an injury in a 4-1 win against Tottenham halted his progress.

His absence coincided with a poor run of form which saw City win just once in six matches in all competitions.

Importance

A visit to Loftus Road for a league game was the back-drop for Lampard's return but his appearance as a substitute couldn't inspire a win.

Lampard again came off the bench for the visit of Swansea but it was the crucial tie with Bayern that saw him earn his stripes.

With Yaya Toure and Fernandinho suspended, Lampard was included in the starting line-up for the first time since mid-October and the 36-year-old rolled back the years.

Sitting in central midfield he showed expert vision and passing to send Sergio Aguero on his way to earning the penalty that opened the scoring for City.

Lampard continued to keep things ticking over for his team against a Bayern side renowned for their midfield dominance.

Saint Lampard

Despite falling behind against the Germans, City rallied to a famous 3-2 win, filling them with confidence ahead of the trip to Southampton.

Perhaps unsurprisingly given his age, Lampard dropped to the bench but that didn't stop him making his mark.

Introduced on 65 minutes, he was a busy presence in the midfield before doing what Lampard does best.

When James Milner broke away on the right and played the ball to the edge of the box it was of course Lampard arriving to strike a trademark finish in to the bottom corner to give City a 2-0 lead.

Key man

While his goal may not have been vital, City would add a third through Gael Clichy, it was typical of the player.

With his team down to 10-men and facing a barrage of attack, he was calm enough to know when to get forward and good enough to make use of his opportunity.

The month of December provides City with no fewer than six Premier League fixtures, all of which they'll expect to win, as well as a make or break Champions League tie with Roma before Lampard's current loan deal is due to expire in January.

The midfielder is well aware he's unlikely to start the majority of those fixtures, but if his performance against Bayern and his cameo against Ronald Koeman's side is anything to go by, the City hierarchy will be desperate to keep hold of the Chelsea icon.

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Topics:
Frank Lampard
Manchester City
Chelsea
Premier League
Football

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