With Mateo Kovacic again unavailable and N’Golo Kante joining him on the injured list, there will be a changed Chelsea midfield at Crystal Palace tonight, but then Frank Lampard has been prepared to be flexible in that department anyway this season.
Kovacic missed the win against Watford at the weekend due to an Achilles problem but Kante started that game before coming off late on with a hamstring niggle, the type of injury Lampard says is likely to occur at the present with how much is being asked of players who did not have a full pre-season-like build-up to the restart.Fortunately, the boss has players available who can fulfil more than one midfield role, as he explains.‘I do really take each game as it comes,’ he says.‘Playing teams with low blocks that make it difficult for you, to be able to get players that arrive with real technical abilities high up the pitch and around the box, and find a pass or take someone out the game with skill and a finish, is big in those games.‘If we feel like we are going to have a lot of control, generally I play with midfield players that can play high, can play on the side, and can do the defensive duties as well. Mason Mount really has that and his work off the ball is fantastic for us. If I feel like getting him higher up the pitch and put more pressure on the other team if they want to play out, that can help us off the ball.‘Sometimes I will ask him to do a slightly different role with the ball where he comes deeper to make sure that he is not missing out on the ball, because he is a good player who needs to be on the ball deeper. He and Ross can perform in that kind of role.’
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Lampard also highlights Kovacic, Kante, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Billy Gilmour as others who can play that kind of role.‘With Jorginho, I think he also can but his role predominantly in his career has been from a deeper position,’ he adds.‘Jorginho has to do nothing different [to earn selection]. He trains well, he is good for the group on and off the pitch, he is vice-captain of the club.‘It is purely my choice at the moment with what I see and the games in front of me and how I like the make-up of the midfield to be. Sometimes it can be affected by the other players that are in that midfield where I think we need more defensive attributes in the game. He doesn’t need to do anything, it is purely my choice.
‘So I have those good [selection] problems in the team. I like to work on the midfield so it is fluid as it possibly can be, so we give teams problems when we are playing well. In some performances recently, Watford being one, and Everton before lockdown, I saw a real fluid movement of the midfield which I really liked, so we have to continue working on that.’
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