Frank Lampard has responded to questions about his “favouritism” towards Mason Mount and explained why the versatile midfielder is crucial to his plan.
Mount was given a deserved rest in the 4-0 win over West Brom on Saturday, having played 90 minutes in every game prior to that.
The lack of rest probably explained Mount’s dip in form, along with the fact that Mount was deployed outside his favourite No.8 position.
Lampard, however, pointed out at Mount’s qualities that made the manager reliant on him in the first five games of the season.
“I have felt Mason’s qualities since he came and had a year with me at Derby,” Lampard told Chelsea’s official website.
“Last season I relied on him a lot.
“When I came to the club at the start of last season I did a lot of work on how we could be good off the ball at the higher end of the pitch.
“And to be good off the ball in high and medium areas of the pitch you need triggers.
“You need people who are prepared to release a lot of energy and speed high up the pitch to win the ball back.”
The fans may disagree with Lampard’s decision, but not his argument.
Mount was Chelsea’s most active player on the pitch in terms of pressuring the opponents last season and has been the second-most active player this season so far.
The 21-year-old made 729 pressures on the pitch in the Premier League last term (Statsbomb via FBref).
To put it into perspective, the next best at Chelsea was Cesar Azpilicueta with 568 pressures.
So far in 2020/21, Mount has recorded second-most pressures (73), just behind the midfield engine N’Golo Kante (82) himself (Statsbomb via FBref).
Out of Mount’s pressing attempts this season, more than 75% were in the middle third (38 – ranks first at Chelsea) and the attacking third (17 – ranks second after Timo Werner).
Lampard also mentioned Mount’s quality on the ball and natural fitness, particularly with injuries and lack of training from some of the new players.
“I rely on lots of players within the group and with the size of the squad, we need players like Mason,” he added.
“We are fortunate to have players like Mason in the group who can offer so much.”