Frank Lampard has been the subject of so much speculation and debate this season, and despite a string of match defining performances it refuses to go away. So, in this piece TacticalBet attempts to get to the bottom of the discussion, and analyses his performance against his previous seasons and other factors.
It’s often been suggested and mooted that Lampard has somewhat been ‘under-used’ this season by Andre Villas Boas, with a few of substitute appearances throughout the first half of the season. Yet, it would be simply wrong to attribute this to the manager’s dis-like of him, or preference for other players, and from looking at the stats it is clear to see he’s just as valued as any other midfielder in the Chelsea squad. Lampard has appeared in 27 games so far this season, with 6 of those coming as a sub. Raul Meireles, a Villas Boas signing, has made the same amount, with one more of the 27 as a replacement. So any myth which states how Lampard is missing out as the club brings in newer younger players, would be un-founded. In terms of performance, Lampard’s cannot be debated, as he is the clubs top scorer in all competitions, with 11 in total. This amount is the same as Anelka, Drogba and Torres all contributed put together, so any criticism of his goalscoring exploits is again over-played. These stats come together to show that any comments on his under-use and perhaps decline in performance is merely speculation from people looking for a story to unsettle the club. Had Thierry Henry scored the goal which Lampard did in the 1-0 win over Sunderland, the press would’ve raved over ‘goalscoring instinct’ and praised him for being a ‘predator’ to be in the right position. Yet, Lampard has had to content with being called ‘lucky’ and ‘fortunate’ instead of any real praise. Maybe all these stories of un-rest and discontent come from the manager’s treatment of the player, although Villas Boas has stated on numerous occasions he is not for sale, ‘at any price’.
Obviously at 33, he’s not getting any younger and this has fueled much talk about how much longer ‘Lamps’ will continue to ply his trade in front of The Shed at Stamford Bridge. However, surely while a play continues to perform well, his age shouldn’t have any bearing on opinions of the player? Giggs is now 38, and Scholes making a return at 37, Lampard is clearly much younger than these two. If as he gets old he has to be used less and less, this should not reflect detrimentally on him as a player, and as long as he contributes he should be commended. He is just 21 goals away from becoming Chelsea’s top goalscorer of all time, in all competitions, a fantastic achievement to stand on 181 at the moment as a midfielder. Should he remain for the rest of his contract (18 months from January 2012) there is every chance he will achieve this feat. Another record on the horizon would be to become the first Chelsea man to make 100 appearances on the European stage. He is already top of that list at 89. So, he’s getting older yes, but all great players must grow old at a point. However, he’s still playing well, and surely he can be counted on to make more impacts in a Chelsea shirt before he’s done.
It’s blatantly obvious from looking at the stats that Lampard is still a much needed figure in the set-up at Chelsea, and none show this better than the way that only Petr Cech has made more appearances than him this season. Winners against Man City, Wolves and Sunderland stand out, and a hat-rick show at Bolton too. Therefore, any criticism of him does not stand up to the ultimate opponent in football – the stats.