Is it just me, or are Chelsea becoming… likeable again? Frank Lampard has completely changed the atmosphere and ethos around west London since his arrival, and after a shaky start to the season, the Blues have managed to go from strength to strength.
Chelsea moved into second place after another confident victory over Crystal Palace, beating the Eagles 2-0 thanks to goals from youngsters Tammy Abraham and Christian Pulisic.
The Blues put in an assured display that demonstrated an experience beyond their years, and Opta released a telling stat which wrote Saturday’s kids into the record books. Lampard fielded Chelsea’s most youthful Premier League side in history, and their starting eleven was the youngest in the top flight this season.
24y 88d – With an average age of 24 years and 88 days, Chelsea have named their youngest ever starting XI in the Premier League, and the youngest of any team in the competition this season. Kindergarten. pic.twitter.com/s1T4l9RG8B
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) November 9, 2019
Chelsea’s transfer ban was analysed intensely over the summer, but it seems to have been a blessing in disguise for Lampard’s lads. Youth academy products such as Fikayo Tomori, Mason Mount, Reece James and Tammy Abraham are following in the footsteps of Callum Hudson-Odoi in delighting the supporters with a string of determined and exciting displays, and the days of extreme spending seem a distant memory at the Bridge.
With Chelsea’s record-breakers fresh off the back of another victory, let’s take a look at how they performed during Saturday afternoon’s 2-0 victory over the Eagles.
Okay, so admittedly this guy is the most expensive player in history in his position, and it’s not much of a feel-good story, but former Athletic goalkeeper Kepa Arrizbalaga is certainly playing his part in Chelsea’s surge up the table.
The Spanish shot-stopper put in an assured performance and kept another clean sheet, as his teammates did the business at the other end to bring home the three points.
This is where the homegrown talent begins to shine. Reece James is everything we love in a full-back: pacy, dynamic and marauding. The Chelsea academy graduate came up against one of the trickiest and slipperiest wingers in the Premier League on Saturday, but Wilfried Zaha was unable to shake off his stubborn marker for the entire 90 minutes.
The 19-year-old’s season-long loan at Wigan last year gave the starlet valuable match experience, and it’s going to be tough to wrestle that right-back spot out of his grasp.
Fikayo Tomori is one of the surprise inclusions in Lampard’s eleven this season, but the new boss placed his faith in the 21-year-old by selling David Luiz to Arsenal and he is truly reaping the rewards. The former Derby loanee has adapted to the demands of the Premier league with ease after an excellent year in the Championship, and he was typically solid against Roy Hodgson’s side on Saturday.
Fellow graduate and former Stoke and Everton loanee Kurt Zouma was less spectacular in the Blues’ backline, but he coped admirably against a resilient Crystal Palace side.
Emerson Palmieri completed the Chelsea rearguard, and at 25 years old, the ex-Roma man is one of the more experienced heads in this youthful team. He too was solid, but not spectacular on the left hand side.
N’Golo Kante is undoubtedly one of the best players in the world, and the 28-year-old brings experience at the highest level to Lampard’s dynamic midfield. The former Leicester City star dominated the central battle once again, and helped the youngsters around him to flourish and hone their developing game.
25-year-old Mateo Kovacic looks a player reborn under his new boss after failing to impress during his spell under Maurizio Sarri. The former Real Madrid man buzzed around the pitch, breaking up play and starting attacks with some key passes. Another lovely display.
Now to the crown in the Chelsea Academy jewel, Mason Mount. The breakout star was in Derby’s superb Championship season, and Lampard saw enough in the 20-year-old to keep him at Stamford Bridge for the following campaign.
Mount is a livewire in possession, and loves breaking between the lines to cause all sorts of problems for his opposition. A big future awaits the England international, and Frank probably sees a bit of himself in the starlet’s courage and determination.
The oldest player in the Chelsea side, and the man who considerably increased his team’s average age, Willian occupied the right flank against the Eagles. The 31-year-old is the grandad of this starting eleven, and he put in a solid performance, providing some much-needed experience in front of goal.
The boy on Chelsea’s opposite wing looks to be finally finding his feet. Christian Pulisic arrived from Borussia Dortmund this summer, and as the deal was agreed in January, months of intense expectation have weighed heavy on the 21-year-old’s shoulders. Since bagging an excellent hat-trick against Burnley, however, Pulisic has made excellent strides, and he capped off another superb performance with a deserved headed goal.
Finally, top scorer Tammy Abraham encapsulates everything positive happening around Stamford Bridge at this current time. The academy product took the Championship by storm with Aston Villa last year, bagging 25 goals and helping the Villans to promotion, and Lampard was keen to retain the 22-year-old’s services for this season.
Abraham bagged another goal to take his tally to ten for the season, and the Blues’ future looks very bright in front of goal and all over the pitch.
Viva la revolution!