It looked like 10-man Fulham were going to keep Chelsea frustrated until Mason Mount intervened.
The midfielder fired home with 12 minutes remaining to secure a 1-0 victory, just the Blues’ second in their past seven Premier League games.
It was fitting that Mount proved the match-winner following another exemplary display in the Chelsea midfield, settling the contest with his second goal from outside the box this season.
The 22-year-old has 11 goals and 10 assists in 78 career appearances as a Premier League player for Chelsea. At the same age, Lampard (for West Ham) had scored 18 times and set up a further eight, but having played 44 further matches.
Ahead of Tuesday’s trip to Leicester City, the Chelsea boss said of his struggling stars: “There are things that other players can look at with Mason.” He has a point.
Surrounded by expensive, high-profile stars, Mount has cemented his place as perhaps the most important fixture in Lampard’s system.
He has three goals and five assists in 22 starts in all competitions this term. The only Chelsea players with more goal involvements are all more attack-minded: Timo Werner (nine goals, five assists), Tammy Abraham (eight goals, four assists), Kai Havertz (five goals, five assists) and Olivier Giroud (nine goals).
There’s an argument to say Mount has been let down a little in that regard. He has created 54 goalscoring chances in 2020-21, more than twice as many as any other player, while 27 of those have been from open play – again, more than anyone else.
Only Werner, Abraham and Giroud have managed more shots on target than Mount (14), eight of which have been from outside the box, a team-high tally. Nobody could accuse him of going missing in attack.
As Lampard has been eager to point out, Mount’s influence is far beyond goalscoring.
In all competitions, only three Chelsea players have completed more passes than Mount (1,032). Two of those are centre-backs Kurt Zouma and Thiago Silva, who enjoy the benefit of a playing position where attempted passes are likely to be over short distances to team-mates under less pressure.
Mount, on the other hand, is required to be bolder with the ball. He has completed 427 passes ending in the final third, significantly more than any team-mate, with Ben Chilwell nearest on 268. Similarly, Mount has played 121 passes into the penalty area, including crosses, which is nine more than nearest rival Chilwell.
And if there were any doubts around Mount’s impact without the ball at his feet, consider that only N’Golo Kante (26) has won more tackles (24).
Still unconvinced? Allow Lampard the final word: “Anyone who knows football and watches Mason Mount play understands what an incredible talent he is. He’s just turned 22. Imagine when he’s 25, imagine when he’s 27. The critics don’t matter when it comes to Mason.”