Super Frank | Man or God? | A Look At Future Successors

Super Frank | Man or God? | A Look At Future Successors

Super Frank Lampard. The very player whose awesomeness made me become a Chelsea fan. Not just me, almost every other Chelsea fan of my age became a Chelsea devotee because of Lampard. Ah, what were those days when we used to have Lampard, Ballack, Makelele and The Bison Michael Essien. Easily the best midfield in the world. I’d dare say a few notches above the current UEFAlona Barcelona. Maka was the interceptor, who broke opponent attacks, Ballack the enforcer, and with their tireless running, Lampard and Essien the box-to-box midfielders. Good old days.

Super Frank

Now, if we take a look at our current midfield, we see an older and slower Super Frank, a knee-less Bison, road-runner Ramires and Maka Mach II Mikel, who’s nothing like Maka but something else entirely. This past season, Chelsea held up offering Lampard a new deal until the dying days of his contract. That was a period all we Chelsea fans were in a limbo. Would this be the last season we see Lampard play for the Blues? Would he leave us and play for someone else? These were some of the more common questions in the public’s mind.

However, the most important question in every Chelsea fan’s mind was, would he get the 203? No, 203 is not like the famous Illuminati number 503, holding importance when converted into Roman numerals, instead it was the magical number that would catapult any Chelsea player from and beyond mortality. It would make him a God in a Chelsea fan’s eyes. 203 was the goal tally required to be Chelsea’s all time record goalscorer beating Bobby Tambling’s previous record of 202.

The very fact that Lampard scored those 203 goals despite being primarily a midfielder says a lot about him. Yes, he does take penalties, but so what? Taking penalties and scoring them is an art, that sadly not many master. I cannot think past Lampard, Hazard, Del Piero and Balotelli, in the current crop, when I’m thinking of people I’d give the spotkick expecting a sureshot return. Even then, he has scored just 48 goals from the spot, a paltry 23.64% of his goals tally. How does one explain a midfielder score the remaining number of goals from open play?

Super Frank always had the instinct of a striker. His ability to arrive late inside the box is one which isn’t found in many strikers even! Some attribute it to his flab, hence the nickname Fat Frank. Lampard is so fat, they say, that despite clocking his maximum speed, he arrives late inside the box, scoring a boatload of goals in that manner. What the truth is that, like a cheetah smelling and closing in on his prey, Lampard has a scent that the ball would be played in, and he makes his way slowly, before hitting top gear and making himself available for a pass that leads to a simple, cute finish.

In terms of raw shot power, I rate him right among the finest. Long shots, drilled in with a hitman-like precision plus the power of Triple H’s sledgehammer, have been a major feature of his highlights reels as well. In recent times, now that the defenders know it’s suicide leaving him shooting space from 30-35 yards, his goals from distance seem dried up. But then, one way or the other, he’ll always score.

This superhuman has scored 10 goals or more in the Premier League for the past TEN SEASONS ! Before I present to you other interesting stats from his Chelsea career, why don’t you bother watching all his 203 goals? Trust me, the next 30 mins will be VERY well spent.

Now, let’s see how his goals shape up, season-wise :

Only League goals :

Goal-Bar

Goal-Table

 

 

That 22 goal season in 2009-10 propelled Chelsea to go on and win the unprecedented Double under King Carlo in emphatic fashion. How often do you see midfielders notching up 22 goals? Super Frank, FTW !

Goals in all competitions :

TotalGoals-BarTotalGoals-Table

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While we start saying “Torres is back” after a 20 goal season, we forget to notice that this fat, slow midfielder who goes by the name Super Frank Lampard has given us FIVE 20+ goal seasons.

Competition-wise Goals tally :

Competition

This creamy looking pie gives us a good picture of how does Lampard’s goals vary with the competition he’s a part of. As expected, a boatload of goals of his are in the PL. He also is Chelsea’s all time record goalscorer in the FA Cup. Nothing unexpected.

How Did He Score?

A good question would be how does Lampard score his goals. Are they penalties, volleys, from his right, or his left? Let’s see :

How-Pie

How-TableBeing a right footed player, his majority goals are unsurprisingly using his right foot. But he’s no gimmick with his left or his head ! He has scored using almost every permissible part of his body, even one off his chest ! Amazing, Super Frank !

He has not just been a person who scores goals when the team is leading. Instead he has had a fair number of game-changing goals as well. Considering a recent example, his two goals bailed Chelsea out against Villa and brought much needed three points to guarantee a CL finish. Not only did he become the record goalscorer that day, his two goals were typical Lampard goals. The first, a thundering left footed strike after a clever run and the second was the Lampardest of all Lampard goals. Anticipating a pass to come in, he sneaked in to the goalmouth in his typical slow fashion and tapped the ball in.

While one can never deny Lampard legendary status at the club, it cannot be overlooked that he’s aging and his play declining. Chelsea will be hard pressed to find a player who can possibly replace Lampard when he’s ready to move on or retire. What those choices Chelsea have, we don’t know, but what SHOULD those choices be, let’s discuss.

A player in that mould, in the current market, is bound to cost MANY millions. So, it would be wise to find an in-house solution or a bargain. Also, a young player would fit better, as he would still be involved in a positional transition, hence shifting the player in the Lampard box-to-box role should be easier. Also, the player should be IMMENSELY talented. Keeping these things in mind, let’s see who the viable options are on the next few pages – please use the easy navigation below to navigate between future successors.

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OscarKevin de BruyneMarco Van Ginkel | Josh McEachranNathaniel Chalobah

Oscar

Signed last summer for roughly 20M Pounds, he was earmarked to be Lampard’s replacement. But given chances in the hole, his natural position, he thrived. At the same time, while Chelsea were required to overload in attack, he dropped back and allowed a winger to come on for a midfielder. His positional versatility has been his biggest strength, but sadly Chelsea’s conundrum. Oscar’s clearly a gifted player, and he has flashes of amazing brilliance so far in his career, but he’s gifted in a way that makes it difficult to comfortably plot his career graph.

Despite him playing often on the wings for Chelsea, Brazil see in the #10 position, as the next Kaka. Also, he has significantly more defensive ability than either Mata or Hazard, and when that’s combined with his technique and vision, he seems like a natural fit to play a little bit deeper. He isn’t the kind of player like Mata to go for the Hollywood passes but rather he goes for effective percentage passes. He has a great passing range, is two-footed, has a great shot, amazing work-rate and he brings a calmness in Chelsea’s play. However, he is too frail-looking for midfield, even though he got into a tussle with Yaya Toure this year and held his ground !

Also a great thing about Oscar is that, even when he plays in the attacking trio, he drops deep to receive the ball, turns, and moves forward. All parts of his feet, the laces area, the backheel, instep and even the outside of his foot are compatible to perfect passing. He lacks a top-end speed like Hazard, but his acceleration and body balance more than make up for it as he’s difficult to get off the ball. He has the sense of defensive responsibility plus the attacking impetus that makes him more complete than Hazard or Mata.

As a measure to see how he has fared this season, let’s see what his season stats have to say.

Oscar-Att

These are his attacking stats from a season where he made 24 starts and 10 substitute appearances. While those stats clearly don’t look flashy, they don’t tell the tale that his main role has been as the deputy of both Mata and Hazard, supplying them the ball and helping the team recover on counters.

Oscar-DefHe is much maligned by the Gooners as they believe his persistent ankle tapping and consequent fouling is the reason Arteta was injured during his match against Chelsea. While being played deep he also managed to stifle Pirlo, later going on to score a superb orgasmic curling goal past Buffon.

So, in short, while Oscar may not be quite as obviously dynamic as some of the other #10’s in the Chelsea team, he’s the most fundamentally sound. A lot of players are heavily weighted in one or two areas, meaning they suffer in others. So just as they can help the team with the skills, they can hurt the team with their flaws. That really isn’t the case with Oscar. While a transition from attacking midfield to central midfield is difficult, Oscar certainly has the skillset to thrive in the Lampard role.

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Oscar | Kevin de Bruyne | Marco Van Ginkel | Josh McEachran | Nathaniel Chalobah

Kevin de Bruyne

A fee to buy De Bruyne from Genk was agreed almost 18 months ago, but he spent the remainder of the season with the Belgian club before officially joining Chelsea when the summer window opened. There were strong rumors of a loan move to Germany from the moment he signed with Chelsea, and sure enough, he was sent to Werder Bremen on a season long loan. A person as talented as he was, plus the void left by Marko Marin meant that he started almost every game from Bremen in a variety of positions and never ceased to impress. Also, he looks like Tintin, so I love him a lot.

debruynetintin

De Bruyne was used as a striker, #10, left wing, and right wing before eventually slotting into a central pair playing just behind the center forward. In some games, he was even played in the Xabi Alonso role. De Bruyne has shown Bundesliga followers some tremendous skill with the ball at his feet. He is not frequently dispossesed despite every attack building through him. He too, like Oscar, is an exceptional passes and can play every kind of pass, making it look easy. He can play Alonso-esque long balls with ease. Also, he is a setpiece virtuoso. One can blindly trust him to take a good corner kick or free kick and he won’t disappoint. Also features a Lampard-like shot.

All those foresaid reasons are the main cause for him being labelled a Lampard replacement. And I’m pretty sure he won’t disappoint. Wanna see what the stats say?

kdb-att

kdb-defHis stats do look good and reflect all the praise I’ve showered on him so far. However, my only concern regarding him is his tackling, and subsequent fouling. He’s a terrible tackler at this point, committing fouls or coming up empty on over 3/4 of his attempts to dispossess an opponent. He does seem to realize that he’s just very poor in this regard, and doesn’t attempt to tackle very often because of it. Hopefully, these are the things that improve with maturity and time.

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Oscar | Kevin de Bruyne | Marco Van Ginkel | Josh McEachran | Nathaniel Chalobah

Marco Van Ginkel

Chelsea have announced the signing of this Justin Bieber lookalike. Please don’t hate Rip van Winkle Marco van Ginkel that he looks like JB. I have not seen much of MvG to be honest, but whatever I’ve seen of this 20 yr old Oranje reminds me of a Lampard plus Ballack hybrid. The enforcing nature of Ballack combined with the late runs, passing and goalscoring of Lampard is what this kid is made of.

Recently awarded the ‘Dutch Talent of the Year 2013’ award, he has both featured for the U21 and senior squad at international level and features as a midfielder capable of playing both advanced and deep roles. Broadly speaking, Van Ginkel is a clever, technical player who is comfortable playing multiple midfield positions. He’s even been used in a largely unsuccessful experiment in a centre forward role, but as it was unsuccessful, he ain’t a Torres replacement. However,  he is a  good option in the pivot of Chelsea’s preferred 4-2-3-1, or he can easily fill any of the three midfield spots in Mourinho’s 4-3-3.

Standing 6’1, MvG possesses above average pace and acceleration and most importantly, Like Lampard and Gerrard, he can run non-stop throughout the 90 minutes. Even though United were in pursuit of him, Chelsea’s close relationship with Vitesse helped secure the deal in the Blues’ favour.

MvG is a very complete player. He’s not much flashy, but he’s got an plethora of passes in his arsenal and is fairly comfortable with the ball at his feet. He moves the ball quickly, not taking multiple touches after receiving the ball very often. He doesn’t dribble into the attacking third very often like Hazard, preferring to collect the ball and quickly move it to a teammate.

Also, he’s shown some defensive awareness despite his young age and spending his formational years as an attacker. His tackling is more impressive than both KdB and Oscar, and he’s got a knack for stepping into passing lanes and quickly starting the counter after intercepting the ball.The fact that he grew up an attacker is visible in the fact that he has got a Lampard-like killer instinct and often makes those trademark late runs into the box.

And while I know you want to hear his stats speak, sadly I don’t seem to find any site that keeps record of Eredevisie matches. Yes, his Euro U21 stats are available, but a handful of games makes poor sample space for statistical judgement.

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Oscar | Kevin de Bruyne | Marco Van Ginkel | Josh McEachran | Nathaniel Chalobah

Josh McEachran

Joshua Mark McEachran. This kid represents my single greatest hope from the Chelsea Academy. Brought into the first team picture under Carlo Ancelotti, this lifelong Blue made his debut in the Champions League against MSK Zilina at the age of 17, making him the first player to play in the Champions League born after the tournament was started.

As a player, he has a long way to go despite impressing many playing in the Championship with Boro last season. He was consistent when amply rested, and erratic when tired, as is expected of any teenager. Two seasons back, he had a poor loan spell with Swansea, who had other, more mature players in his ilk, hence robbing him of minutes and stalling his development. That sparked many people to say that he’s finished, he can’t cut it at Chelsea and what not. From being a promising youngster, he was relegated to the status of a failure, all at the age of 18/19.

Thankfully, it took the spotlight off him, and instead of being aggressive, Chelsea took a safe move by sending him to Boro. That’s where he actually blossomed. After being played on the right, McEachran won his place in the heart of the midfield and pulled strings from the deep. He was one of the Championship’s most impressive players. His most RIDICULOUS moment of the season is this run that would’ve made Messi proud.

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mceachAs a player, McEachran is NOT like Lampard. He’s more like an Iniesta in that regard. Brilliant passing range, immaculate close control and microscopic vision and understanding of the game makes his play look like someone much older than he is. However, he appears to have been built on toothpicks rather than bones, and that causes a major concern so as to if he could ever adapt to the PL or not. But as has been shown by Modric, Oscar, Hazard, etc., if you’re technically skilled enough, your build doesn’t matter. But as he plays in the heart of the midfield, I’d prefer he stocks up on pasta so that the frail toothpicks don’t get broken.

The most important thing regarding McEachran is patience. A player of his type, a deep-lying playmaker, relies more on vision, maturity and, most importantly, decision making, to thrive. And as we all should understand, decision-making comes with time, and we ought to give Josh that time. I DO NOT expect him to perform any groundbreaking magic by the time he is atleast 23. Look at Xavi, Pirlo, Modric, etc. What were their stats when they were 19/20 ? McEachran’s will be similar to those. This is a position that demands patience, and we must afford it.

Talking of stats, I couldn’t find elaborate stats from the Championship, so I’ve tabled up all I could find, and here they are :

The best stats I could have used to comment on his, ie- passing stats are not available anywhere. Nothing noticeable here, so let’s move on.

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Nathaniel Chalobah

For long we Chelsea fans have harbored hopes of Chalobah breaking into the first team picture, and he seems to be only fueling us further. We were all taken by surprise when it was announced that Chalobah would be moving to Watford on loan, to play under the watchful eyes of GOD Gianfranco Zola. We all felt that for Chalobah, who had no experience of any level of football higher than the U18s and Reserves, it was a move way too aggressive. We had next to no hopes. And, oh dear, hasn’t this England-representing Sierra Leone youngster surprised us all?

From Chelsea’s U18 star to Championship’s Best Young Player in just a year, this move was clearly Chelsea’s best loan move of all those 20-odd loanees. Having seen him spend his time at both center back and holding midfield, it was clear from his passing and ability to control the game’s tempo that he was destined to be a holding midfielder. Zola too played him there, experiencing immense success. Look at this goal which just screams Michael Essien !

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He’s not a like-to-like Lampard replacement. He is a good passer, but he’s more of a Yaya Toure than he’s a Lampard. Standing over 1.8M tall, this kid has all the abilities plus the right attitude to make it big. Also, having seen him captain the Chelsea Youth sides, I can say confidently that when he’s good enough to hold down a spot in the first team, he’ll prove himself to be pure captain material. Chalobah has always been a composed player who didn’t take unnecessary risks.

chaloHis attacking had gotten pretty noticeable as the season went on. While he still hasn’t become Frank Lampard in the frequency of forward runs, he’s becoming increasingly easier to spot in the attack as the season wears on. Where he was a primarily a holding midfielder when he first made the move up the pitch, he’s become a true box to box player this year. Being 18, he’s yet to completely fill up physically, but even then he has been an aerial beast and a genuine threat in the air.

I would personally like an even more aggressive loan this month or the next for Chalobah. He’s clearly the best player the academy has produced in a while, and he’s getting better by the day. If he doesn’t remain at Chelsea, I’m looking at a Premier League loan. Chalobah too, like McEachran, doesn’t have a vast set of stats. So like I did with McEachran, I’ll stick to what I have.

Lampard, as discussed, doesn’t have a long time at the top level left. Hence, it would be wise to start preparing for life after Lampard. And so have Chelsea. These five in-house options surely feature a solution to Chelsea’s wants. But till they start showing they can fill the mammoth boots of Fat Frank, we can only expect Super Frank plays at his best and keeps banging the goals in.

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Oscar | Kevin de Bruyne | Marco Van Ginkel | Josh McEachran | Nathaniel Chalobah