After a fortnight away on international duty, Mason Mount was back in the Chelsea midfield this weekend, pulling the strings and offering a constant creative threat as the Blues won 2-0 in Newcastle to continue their run of victories.
Mount’s early cross into the box, whipped low in between the goalkeeper and defenders in the fabled ‘corridor of uncertainty’ undoubtedly caused confusion in the Magpies’ six-yard box. It was aimed for Ben Chilwell at the back post, a familiar ploy, but was turned into his own net by Federico Fernandez instead.
When Tammy Abraham made it 2-0 with 25 minutes remaining with a goal that owed much to the turbo-charged running of Timo Werner, the points were secured and Frank Lampard’s side rose to the top of the Premier League table for a few short hours on Saturday afternoon.
It was, according to Mount, ‘a massive win’ that came a little over 36 hours after many of the players returned to Cobham from various corners of the globe. Ten months earlier, we had conceded a late goal at St James’ Park and dropped three points so this result was another indication of progress being made – we are currently seven points up on corresponding fixtures last season.
‘We know from last season how difficult it is to come here and get a result,’ the 21-year-old said after the game. ‘With the way we’re playing at the moment, we can come to these places and feel confident in getting the result, whereas last season maybe we didn’t have that confidence.
‘We’re building momentum but we can’t get too carried away. We just need to keep focusing on winning games, scoring goals and trying to keep as many clean sheets as we can.’
Winning games that we lost or drew last term is a surefire way to help improve on 2019/20’s fourth-place finish and the Blues have now done that against Newcastle, Sheffield United and Brighton, as well as turning defeats into draws against Manchester United and Southampton.
‘You look back at some of those results where we dropped points and conceded easy goals but it feels like this season there’s been a bit of a change in that and in our mentality,’ he explained.
Lampard himself has intimated one reason for that could be a more clinical edge in attack - in January, we had 19 shots but didn’t score on Tyneside – and Mount admitted the players have become tougher on each other to demand high standards. He reckons he should have scored one himself against the Toon Army, while Werner ought to have grabbed two.
‘I said to Timo in the first half, “that’s a goal for you, you need to score them” because I’ve seen them go in day-in and day-out in training. He’s a top player and he needs to be harsh on himself to score those. He knows that and, if it comes next week, he’ll put it away.
‘I was disappointed with my one as well because I feel I should be scoring those. We’re all tough on each other and tough on ourselves because we want to be pushing to get number one.
‘We need to have that in the group where if someone doesn’t score or makes a mistake, we can tell them. Chelsea teams in the past had that in their group and we need the same in our group. If we do, we’ll have a top chance of winning trophies.’