LONDON — It’s becoming that the person Frank Lampard has trusted arguably greater than some other got here to the Chelsea head coach’s rescue in his hour of want.
The Blues had been labouring in direction of a stalemate at Craven Cottage regardless of holding a numerical benefit for the complete second half after Antonee Robinson was despatched off for a wild deal with on Cesar Azpilicueta a minute earlier than the interval. Regardless of a full praise of expensively assembled forwards being obtainable, Chelsea had been struggling badly to interrupt down a spirited Fulham aspect resolutely digging in for a draw when Ben Chilwell swung over an innocuous-looking cross with 12 minutes remaining. Fulham goalkeeper Alphonse Areola clawed the ball away unconvincingly and it fell to Mason Mount, who steadied himself earlier than rifling a low shot into the web handy the guests a treasured 1-0 win, their first within the Premier League since Dec. 21.
“All of us knew we would have liked a win, we put that strain on ourselves,” Mount instructed Sky Sports activities after the match. “We have a look at the standard within the altering room, we knew we have to win video games. It has been troublesome final couple of weeks, however we put strain on ourselves to win in opposition to a great workforce who’ve been taking part in effectively.”
It was Mount’s first League purpose since Sept. 26 and reward for the participant who confirmed probably the most endeavour, registered a complete of seven key passes and accounted for eight crosses, greater than some other participant on the pitch.
Lampard had been shuffling the pack seeking a profitable hand through the second half, throwing on Tammy Abraham, Timo Werner and Callum Hudson-Odoi in an more and more determined seek for solutions. Hakim Ziyech had been hailed within the build-up as a key artistic affect however right here he gave the ball away 22 instances, probably the most of any participant.
And in the long run it was the homegrown boy, whose place within the workforce has typically been questioned, who got here up with match-winning second. Lampard took nice delight within the identification of the purpose scorer, having defended him stoutly this season from criticism on social media from some Chelsea supporters questioning whether or not he possesses the requisite high quality to play so typically in a workforce attempting to win the title. In reality, it was solely 5 days in the past that Lampard mentioned Mount “can, ought to and can” rating extra targets.
“I assumed he was excellent,” the supervisor mentioned of his midfielder postgame. “He has been for us this season and final. He’s maturing on a regular basis. He’s nonetheless younger, he simply turned 22 final week. His normal play was nice and his end he deserves. He cares about this membership, he desires to be a high participant for Chelsea and I am actually glad to have him.”
Chelsea had exerted a level of second-half strain, however their 70% of possession resulted in few scoring alternatives.
Lampard highlighted within the build-up to this recreation that the Blues lastly had two clear weeks to work on the coaching floor both aspect of a facile FA Cup third-round victory over Morecambe. Maybe probably the most damning indictment of the 42-year-old got here in the truth that it did not actually present.
Chelsea missed the supply from out vast of Reece James and maybe the aerial menace of Kurt Zouma from corners, rotated right here in favour of Antonio Rudiger, and it was a good contest previous to Robinson’s dismissal. Though Mount hit the crossbar halfway by means of the half, Fulham had one of the best probability: Ivan Cavaleiro, who scored the equaliser in Wednesday’s 1-1 draw at Tottenham Hotspur, fired vast when Kenny Tete discovered him unmarked within the field 12 yards out.
Robinson’s deal with on Azpilicueta got here simply three minutes later, and though he was solely fractionally late and never significantly excessive, it was an overzealous deal with with extreme power that satisfied referee Peter Bankes to decide VAR didn’t really feel sufficiently involved with to overturn. Fulham caught on the activity resolutely thereafter and it must be remembered that Leicester Metropolis, Liverpool and Spurs have struggled to beat a workforce reinvigorated by a number of new signings and a change in strategy orchestrated by Scott Parker.
Ultimately, maybe fatigue was an element. Fulham had 48 hours’ discover to organise a workforce to face Spurs as postponements attributable to COVID-19 wreaked havoc with the schedule. The knock-on impact was exacerbated by taking place to 10 males.
“It is a crucial win for us,” Lampard mentioned. “It’s simply three factors within the grand scheme of issues however as a result of we have now had some outcomes we do not like not too long ago, it was vital for us. It retains us in direction of the highest 4 however we should carry it on. I do not wish to get too excited with one win however it is crucial for the boldness.”
Lampard will really feel relieved Chelsea discovered a winner, however there was nonetheless time for Werner to remind everybody of the horrible rut he’s in, bursting clear in stoppage time however sidefooting hopelessly vast. His final league purpose got here on Nov. 7. Kai Havertz, Chelsea’s costliest summer season signing accounting for £71 million of their £220m outlay, remained an unused substitute.
Chelsea will collectively have to enhance at Leicester on Tuesday. Maybe a few of that training-ground work will repay then.