Everyone needs to calm down about Frank Lampard. The Chelsea FC legend, and all-time leader in goals for the Blues, has come under a fair amount of heat this season. Many point to his lack of defensive play, some shout that he’s lost a step, others say that he can’t pass like he used to, and many believe that he should be dropped from the starting lineup for John Obi Mikel.
Here are the facts. Lampard, being 36 years old, has indeed lost a step, and sometimes he finds himself a bit lost in his new defensive midfield role. This is especially the case when Ramires vacates his place in the pivot to get forward and help out in attack. While there is no complaint about Ramires’ great forward runs, it does leave Lampard exposed.
Lampard started his career as an attacking midfielder, but lost his role up front when younger, more technical attacking midfielders were brought in. In fact, in Jose Mourinho’s first stint at the club, Lampard was played on the advanced-left side of a 4-3-3, and had the exceptional Claude Makelele in a holding role so that he could go forward. He did not break Chelsea’s scoring record by being a great defender and staying back to mark playmakers; it is just not what he is meant to do.
While Frank has a worse passer rating this season than Mikel – 84 percent to 91 percent – he does have more chances created than his counterpart, at 13 as opposed to Mikel’s two. Compare that to Chelsea’s first-choice No. 10, Oscar, who has created 14 chances and has a passer rating of 84 percent, the same as Lampard. Aside from Oscar, Andre Schurrle, Ramires, Juan Mata and Eden Hazard are the only players ahead of Frank in terms of chances created, all of whom play further up the pitch. For even more perspective, Chelsea’s three forwards have 11 chances created combined.
Maybe the problem isn’t Lampard. While it is obvious his game is deteriorating — and this article is not suggesting that he stays a starter for another four seasons — he still plays at a level higher than many others on the field. Maybe the problem is Chelsea’s options at defensive midfield and the lack of potency in attack. Maybe, in the January transfer window, the Blues will bring in a star player to uproot Lampard once and for all, or maybe it will finally become obvious to the coaching staff that David Luiz is far better suited for a holding midfield role than he is for central defender, as error prone as he can be.
That is just some food for thought. Feel free to give your opinion on the subject in the comment section below.