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Once-forgotten academy talent starting to prove its value to Lampard

FA Cup Fourth Round: Chelsea 3 Luton Town 1

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Tammy Abraham. Photo: Reuters

Tammy Abraham. Photo: Reuters

Tammy Abraham. Photo: Reuters

For all the talk of Frank Lampard needing to get the best out of Chelsea's new signings, the academy graduates again signalled their importance in pulling the side out of the slump that has threatened the job of their head coach.

Tammy Abraham netted a hat-trick, Mason Mount captained Chelsea for the first time, Billy Gilmour pulled the strings in midfield and Callum Hudson-Odoi made an impact from the substitutes' bench. And with Reece James also recovering from a difficult night at Leicester City, the future for Chelsea still looks bright, even if the here and now has been less than inspiring.

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Luton Town's Jordan Clark scores his side's only goal. Photo: Reuters

Luton Town's Jordan Clark scores his side's only goal. Photo: Reuters

Luton Town's Jordan Clark scores his side's only goal. Photo: Reuters

 

An FA Cup run may well help to end the short-term pain as Chelsea booked a fifth-round date against another Championship club, Barnsley, and will already be thinking about going far in the competition they reached the final of last season.

This scoreline would have been much more emphatic had Timo Werner scored a late penalty, Christian Pulisic not squandered two wonderful chances and Kepa Arrizabalaga not gifted Luton Town a goal. But while some of the expensive signings continue to toil, Chelsea's young players stepped up.

Mount was rewarded for his performances against Fulham and Leicester City by being handed the armband for the first time, and Lampard was similarly rewarded for picking Abraham.

The 23-year-old is now Chelsea's top scorer after a treble that came via a shot following Werner's deflected pullback, a header from a James cross and a tap-in from a Hudson-Odoi centre.

Chelsea's third goal was the pick of the bunch, Hudson-Odoi playing a great one-two with Gilmour, the other standout performer.

Unlike Mateo Kovacic, who had too often looked sideways and backwards at Leicester, Gilmour always looked forward and was a driving force from the middle of the park.

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Chelsea's Billy Gilmour brings the ball under control. Photo: Reuters

Chelsea's Billy Gilmour brings the ball under control. Photo: Reuters

Chelsea's Billy Gilmour brings the ball under control. Photo: Reuters

 

It was no wonder that Lampard played down any prospect of the 19-year-old leaving on loan. "Billy was outstanding," said Lampard. "He was confident on the ball and a big influence with his performance and personality. For the short-term he won't be going on loan."

Abraham had missed a sitter from another Hudson-Odoi cross shortly before completing his hat-trick, but, unlike Werner, he looks full of confidence and happy to accept the pressure of Chelsea's situation.

"I'm pleased for Tammy that he got his goals," said Lampard. "I wasn't nervous about picking a young team because they bring energy and desire. Mason being captain was another step in his progression."

Werner performed well in parts and won an 86th-minute penalty with his blistering speed, but his spot-kick was saved by Luton's Simon Sluga to underline the German's problems.

Similarly, Pulisic looks bereft of confidence in front of goal. He missed the chance to finish a wonderful move involving James and Werner by shooting weakly at Sluga.

And in the second half, the United States international failed to net from close rage from a James cross.

James had seen his performance against Leicester in midweek heavily criticised, but responded well here. He was caught out once in the second half, allowing James Bree to break but Kepa made a good save from Harry Cornick.

That stop partially made up for Luton's first-half goal. Jordan Clark made a good connection with his first-time shot from Bree's cross but Kepa should have saved it.

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Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga makes a save from Luton Town's Harry Cornick. Photo: PA

Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga makes a save from Luton Town's Harry Cornick. Photo: PA

Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga makes a save from Luton Town's Harry Cornick. Photo: PA

 

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Lampard decided to concentrate on Kepa's good save, rather than criticise his mistake, and was also grateful to the fans who paid for a banner to be erected in their absence that read: 'In Frank We Trust. Then. Now. Forever'.

"I knew about the banner and the people who put it together and I am hugely appreciative," said Lampard. "All I want to do is work hard and be successful for this club."

© Telegraph Media Group Limited 2021

Telegraph Media Group Limited [2021]


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