If anyone was wondering how Mason Mount still gets picked in this Chelsea team, while the likes of Timo Werner and Kai Havertz are forced to settle for a place on the bench, then look no further than Saturday’s war of attrition between Chelsea and Fulham.
With 15 minutes to play, the Blues were staring down the barrel of a humiliating stalemate with a relegation-threatened Fulham side, that had already conceded 24 goals in 16 matches, and were playing the entire second half with ten men.
It’s safe to say, Frank Lampard was probably getting a bit of a dab on while standing helplessly on the touchline.
In a desperate act to resurrect the dire situation, he subbed off Jorginho, who had just started to gain some influence over the game, and brought on Tammy Abraham. The young striker threw himself into the thick of the action, but missed a golden opportunity. No dice.
It looked like it was going to be one of those days for Lampard – one of those days that is occurring far too often for a team constructed upon hundreds of millions of pounds.
Fortunately, Lampard’s guardian angel was watching over him. Or should we say, his saviour was on the pitch, guiding his teammates through the tunnel of darkness and into the light. Mount started in the Chelsea midfield, and as always, he was tasked with floating around the final third, drifting into unoccupied pockets of space and hurting Fulham with penetrative deliveries.
Although not everything came off for the Englishmen, he demonstrated that what he may lack in flashy tricks or a hefty reputation, he more than makes up for in bravery. Mount was not afraid to take a chance in a contest crying out for a spark and a moment of magic.
He tried a few long-range strikes that were blocked – with one hitting the crossbar – he prodded a few probing passes into the box and made late, darting runs into the penalty area to try and catch the Fulham defence cold.
Finally, his relentless efforts bore fruit, as he gambled on a hunch that Alphonse Areola may push a cross back into the danger zone, where he was lurking with intent. This time, his instincts were rewarded, and as the ball fell to his feet, you just knew he’d make no mistake.
Low and hard, just like we’re taught as children.
Mount showed perfect technique to fire Chelsea into the lead in one of the most important matches of the season for Lampard and his stuttering stars, and they saw it out to collect a vital three points in their race for the top four.
It was telling that in his time of need, the Blues boss relied on the homegrown talents of Mount and Callum Hudson-Odoi, rather than deploying the big-money signing Havertz, who was left rooted to the bench.
Sometimes, no matter how good a player is, or how much he costs, money simply can’t buy you the desire of a local lad, determined to score the winning goal for the team he loves.
Lampard sees that hunger in Mount, and perhaps he also sees some of himself in the way the 22-year-old is working to prove his doubters wrong on a weekly basis. If he has half the success that his boss did, then Mount can become a real Premier League star.