Breathe it in, Chelsea fans. Frank Lampard’s team have scored 11 Premier League goals so far this season and all 11 have come from academy graduates, nairasports.com.ng reports
Yes, it may only be three players and Tammy Abraham has contributed seven of that total, but after years of supporters urging a succession of managers to place faith in the club’s young talent, now that moment has finally arrived it tastes rather sweet.
It remains hard to settle on whether Lampard’s trust in those young players is a product of the transfer embargo or not. The reality is most likely somewhere in between and he has repeatedly said that he will not play the young players for the sake of it.
But how much does that matter on days like today, when Abraham is the Premier League’s top scorer, Mason Mount continues to impress and Fikayo Tomori is proving his value as part of a defence that remains a significant work in progress?
At Derby County last season, Lampard showed a willingness to throw young players in at the deep end – not least Mount and Tomori, who won the Championship club’s player of the season award – and the same is happening here under far greater scrutiny.
The approach is admirable, however there are still questions worth pondering and fans should not get carried away by this result either.
It was a thrillingly fun afternoon in Wolverhampton but the hosts were surprisingly below par and further teething problems feel inevitable, especially in a defence that is yet to keep a clean sheet.
Let’s not dampen spirits, though. This was an afternoon to be excited by three former members of the Loan Army, players grasping their opportunities after coming off the conveyor belt.
First, Abraham. By placing such faith in the 21-year-old we are beginning to see raw talent flourish into something quite special. His hat-trick here came after braces against Sheffield United and Norwich City. He is the Premier League’s top scorer and became the youngest Chelsea player to score a treble before coming off with a minor injury 15 minutes from time.
Bigger tests are to come, not least when he goes up against Virgil van Dijk at Stamford Bridge next Sunday, but this was a moment to savour and, possibly, the day when he truly arrived as a Premier League striker.
His three goals were very different but all displayed a killer instinct, as Lampard pointed out afterwards. The first was a poacher’s effort, benefiting from being in the right position; the second was a clinical header following Marcos Alonso’s well-flighted cross from the left; and the third was the pick of them, ruthlessly selecting his spot from a relatively tight angle.
Then there is Mount. The 20-year-old would have been given opportunities throughout the season but to become such a key player, one of the first names on the team-sheet and a senior England international, in less than two months is a stunning, rapid ascent.
Lampard will have been confident of Mount’s ability to cut it at this level having seen him up close every day at Derby but to do it this quickly is an achievement.
So too Tomori, 21, who opened the scoring at Molineux with a goal that he might not better for the rest of his career, a swerving drive from more than 25 yards that stunned Molineux into silence.
Most importantly, he can defend. Granted, Chelsea conceded another two goals here – but both arrived at 4-0 and until that point Lampard’s decision to play with a three-man defence paid dividends.
Tomori made seven interceptions (the same as the rest of the Chelsea team combined), regained possession 11 times and made three successful tackles. Statistics may only tell part of the story but this was a commanding display, even if he is part of a back-line that must improve.
All three players have cemented their place and that is before considering the minutes given to 18-year-old Billy Gilmour against Sheffield United, Andreas Christensen rejoining the starting XI at Wolves, plus the imminent returns of Callum Hudson-Odoi, Reece James and, further down the line, Ruben Loftus-Cheek from injury.
The kids are proving all right and suddenly the transfer ban may prove a blessing in disguise.