LOOKING BACK: NO 8

Posted on: Fri 22 Jun 2012

After enduring a frustrating first half of the season, Frank Lampard, as he's done so often in the past, rose to the fore when his team needed him most of all.

Lampard started the first four league games of the season under the new man at the helm, Andre Villas-Boas, but after being substituted at half-time in the 3-1 defeat at Manchester United and subsequently dropped to the bench for the home game against Swansea, he returned to the starting line-up at Bolton and scored a hat-trick in a 5-1 win.

He came off the bench to score the winner from the penalty spot against Manchester City, while also netting the decisive goal at Wolverhampton Wanderers early in the new year, but with the Portuguese manager using him only sparingly, he struggled to produce his best football, and after being left out for the Champions League defeat in Napoli his long-term future at the club became a source of constant speculation.

After taking over at the beginning of March, Roberto Di Matteo quickly restored Lampard to the side, recognising the value of his experience and abilities at a time when the team were struggling for confidence.

Regular football brought the best out of the midfielder and, as well as scoring a crucial penalty in the return leg against the Italian side, he scored a stunning free-kick in the 5-1 FA Cup win against Tottenham.

Rather than playing in his more familiar role as an attacking midfielder, Di Matteo's favoured 4-2-3-1 formation saw Lampard adopt one of the deeper positions alongside John Mikel Obi, although he was given license to support the frontmen when necessary.

It wasn't just scoring goals, however, where Lampard was proving his importance to the side. After starting the move which led to Didier Drogba's strike in the first leg against Barcelona, he also teed up Ramires for that stunning goal in the Camp Nou, before once again linking up with Drogba as the Ivorian scored the winner in the FA Cup Final.

With John Terry suspended for the Champions League Final in Munich, Lampard skippered the side, and after turning in a marvellous display and scoring a penalty in the shoot-out, he held the trophy aloft at the final whistle to cap a truly remarkable season.

Appearances: 38+11
Goals: 16
Assists: 11
Minutes on pitch: 3,745