Nobody has made more appearances for Chelsea this season than Mason Mount and now the young midfielder is looking forward to our start in a new competition as Nottingham Forest come to Stamford Bridge in the FA Cup third round this afternoon.
Mount, who turns 21 next weekend, has admitted that the adaptation from previous campaigns in the Championship and Eredivisie has been challenging, mentally as much as physically, with the Christmas period bringing both mixed performances and results for the Blues in the Premier League.
‘There’s definitely both a mental and physical challenge,’ he claimed. ‘Every game is so big, everyone is watching and we have to step up - there’s so much pressure to perform so mentally it is tiring.
‘When you look back at the big games, we won both of them,’ he reflected on our four games in 11 days over the festive period, ‘but we’re disappointed because we probably should have won the home game [against Southampton] and beaten Brighton. We’ve had disappointing results after good performances so we need to look at that and do something to turn it around.’
On loan at Derby County last term, meetings with Forest contained more spice and significance given the rivalry between the Midlands sides. Mount acknowledges that the Rams contingent now back at the Bridge, including himself and Fikayo Tomori, will likely face some grief from the travelling Reds supporters.
He is expecting a tough test against the side currently fourth in the Championship, who will come to west London with the kind of fearless attitude that Derby showed when knocking Premier League opponents out of the domestic cup competitions last season.
‘I played the home game against them when I was at Derby and it was a massive rivalry,’ he continued. ‘I’m sure myself and Fikayo will get a bit of stick because their fans will remember that. I like to keep an eye on the Championship to see how Derby are doing and because I enjoyed it so much and learnt so much when I was playing there.
‘Forest have been doing well this season. They’ll have a similar mentality to what we [Derby] had when we played Southampton and Manchester United. They have no real pressure, they’re the underdogs and they’re coming in to play free so we need to have the mentality to kill the game and go in with that confidence to win because we’re at home.’
The last time Mount played in the FA Cup was away at Accrington in the fourth round a year ago, when he left the field before half-time with a hamstring injury that kept him sidelined for over two months. He is hoping for a more productive run-out today and will draw inspiration from his involvement in the junior version of the competition, the FA Youth Cup, which he won twice with our Under-18s.
‘The FA Cup is massive and we always want to win silverware,’ Mount noted. ‘There’s a big focus on trying to win every game and hopefully we can keep going further on.
‘I have some unbelievable memories playing in the Youth Cup as a kid coming through in youth football. Winning that was one of the best moments because you always want to win the big games. We know how it feels to win Youth Cups, we won five in a row and I played in two of those, so we just want to get that feeling back of winning major trophies.’
On a personal level, Mount’s 2019/20 has exceeded expectations so far. He is an instrumental part of Frank Lampard’s team, has five Premier League goals to his name and six senior England caps since making his debut for the Three Lions in September.
His simple target for 2020 is to keep learning, keep improving and keep playing as much as he can in the blue of Chelsea and the white of England.
‘Hopefully I can keep going as the season has started, by playing minutes and trying to gain as much experience as I can,’ he said. ‘Learning is the most important thing because if you’re learning then you’re getting better and better.
‘I’m playing in one of the best leagues in the world and loving my football so hopefully we can keep producing performances like at Tottenham and Arsenal, and we can keep winning games. That’s the focus at the moment.’
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