Lampard an integral part of what makes Chelsea tick
chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti always knew he would miss Frank Lampard -- should he ever be injured.
Just how much has been shown over the past three months, during which time Chelsea's title defence has deteriorated rapidly in the absence of the goals, and influence, of their midfield playmaker.
While John Terry marshalls the defence, it is Lampard who bears the burden of carrying the attack. Others can provide energy and defensive steel, but Lampard has proved irreplaceable in terms of goals and attacking input. He scored 22 goals last season, and in the previous five seasons (counting backwards) he had managed 20, 20, 21, 20 and 19. Lampard's consistent excellence has been one of the cornerstones of Chelsea's success over the past six seasons.
During his recent spell of inactivity, that hole has not been filled by the club's other midfielders. Michael Essien has managed four, Yuri Zhirkov one, while neither John Obi Mikel nor the £17m Brazilian Ramires could muster a goal between them, while Lampard has been recuperating.
All of which makes Lampard's return to the starting XI such a key moment for Chelsea, for what could prove to be one of the decisive games of the season, away to Arsenal tonight.
Ancelotti admitted that Lampard is irreplaceable. "It's very difficult to find this kind of player who has the capability of scoring 20 goals as well," the Italian said. "He has character, ability, he always runs and works hard. He's so professional. It's the best image for a player." (© Independent News Service)