If anyone was wondering how Mason Mount is still chosen in this Chelsea side, when Timo Werner and Kai Havertz are forced to settle for a place on the bench, look no further than the war of attrition from Saturday between Chelsea and Fulham.
With 15 minutes to go, the Blues watched the barrel of a humiliating stalemate with a relegation-threatened Fulham team, who had already conceded 24 goals in 16 matches and played the entire second half with ten men.
It’s safe to say that Frank Lampard was probably a little bit touched by standing helplessly on the sideline.
In a desperate act to resuscitate the dire situation, he replaced Jorginho, who had just started to have some influence on the game, and brought in 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 happens far too often for a team built on hundreds of millions of pounds.
Fortunately, Lampard’s guardian angel was watching over him. Or should we say, his savior was on the pitch, guiding his teammates through the tunnel of darkness and into the light. Mount started in Chelsea midfielder and as always he was tasked with floating around the final third, drifting into unoccupied pockets of space and injuring Fulham with penetrating deliveries.
While not all turned out for the English, he has shown that what he may lack in flashy tricks or a solid reputation he more than makes up for in bravery. Mount wasn’t afraid to try his luck in a contest calling for a spark and a moment of magic.
He attempted a few long-range strikes that were blocked – including one on the crossbar – he pushed a few passes into the box and ran late runs into the penalty area to try and catch Fulham’s defense at cold.
Finally, his relentless efforts paid off, as he bet on the intuition that Alphonse Areola could push a cross into the danger zone, where he was hiding with intent. This time his instincts paid off, and when the ball landed on his feet, you just knew he wouldn’t make any mistakes.
Weak and difficult, just like we were taught as children.
Mount showed perfect technique to put Chelsea in the lead in one of the most important games of the season for Lampard and his stuttering stars, and they saw him rack up three essential points in their run for the top four.
It was telling that when needed the Blues boss would lean on the local talents of Mount and Callum Hudson-Odoi, rather than deploy Havertz, who had signed with a lot of money, who had remained rooted in the bench.
Sometimes no matter how good a player is, or how much he costs, money just can’t buy you the desire of a local boy, determined to score the winning goal for the team he loves.
Lampard sees this hunger in Mount, and perhaps he also sees a part of himself in the way the 22-year-old works to prove his skeptics wrong every week. If he has half the success his boss has had, Mount can become a true Premier League star.