|YOUNG GUN: Chelsea's Mason Mount (right) celebrates with teammate Olivier Giroud. — AFP Photo|
Chelsea’s comfortable victory against Wolves last weekend was extremely significant for a number of reasons.
Firstly, it was a much needed away win in what has been an average start to the season for Frank Lampard’s team.
But what may have gone unnoticed were the scorers in that match, Tammy Abraham (3), Fikayo Tomori and Mason Mount, are all 21-years-old or younger.
This season in the Premier League, Chelsea have scored 11 goals so far, all of them by players under the age of 21, and all English – although Abraham is eligible to play for Nigeria.
The cynical among you may point out that really and truly, this isn’t a case of Lampard introducing youth into the first team, but more a case of he didn’t really have much choice.
A transfer ban has stifled the normally big spenders and Frank hasn’t had any other option but to start with a younger team.
During the BBC’s Match of the Day programme on Saturday evening, it was pointed out that in the past, one pundit famously said a youthful Manchester United wouldn’t ‘win anything with kids’ and he was proven wrong.
But let’s face facts here, the chances of Chelsea winning the league this season are less than zero, but maybe the transfer ban could be a blessing in disguise.
It is pretty obvious that Abraham, Tomori and Mount are all decent players but would they be in the starting 11 if Roman Abramovich had been allowed to spend his cash? Probably not.
Frank’s had his hand forced, and so far, things are working out well and the young trio are showing no signs of feeling the pressure.
He should know a thing or two about that. He was part of a very young midfield at West Ham alongside Michael Carrick and Joe Cole.
Though they didn’t win anything at Upton Park, the three of them all went on to much bigger and better things.
That midfield trio, with a youthful Rio Ferdinand playing behind them in the back four, were the heartbeat of West Ham at the time.
They went on to forge amazing club careers, Carrick and Ferdinand at Manchester United and Lampard and Cole at Chelsea.
Between the four of them, they have 17 Premier League winners’ medals.
If they had started their careers at the clubs they finished with, they may not have been given such a chance. West Ham under Harry Redknapp was the perfect place to begin.
Will Chelsea’s young trio collect a similar haul in the game? Only time will tell. But at least for now, due to circumstances beyond their control, they are getting a chance.
The west Londoners have been big spenders since Abramovich took over, but now for the first time in a long time, they have to lean a little bit more on their youngsters.
And it’s so far, so good.
Sure, there have been a few hiccups and this week’s home defeat in the Champions League against Valencia didn’t help, but I’ll stick with my original pre-season prediction that Chelsea will finish in fourth place.
On Sunday they play Liverpool at home, and that will be a real test for the young team.
Mason Mount limped off on Tuesday night, so he may not be available to play, but as for their other two starlets, a game against the current league leaders is a chance to show their mettle. — VNS