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By Paul Lagan, London24’s Chelsea blogger
Monday, October 1, 2012
Was anybody bothered by the fact that Frank Lampard failed to get any minutes in Saturday’s 2-1 win at the Arsenal?
It seems not.
I was at a pleasant watering hole about a 20 minutes walk from the Emirates to meet up with a few Chelsea fans after the game - I like to get a sense of what’s on their minds - and away fans tend to have a sharper focus andare quite vociferous when it comes to what’s going on at SW6.
So while they were naturally in good spirits (some quite literally) following the three points against one of their accustomed title rivals, the absence of any mention of ‘Lamps’ was telling.
Frankie boy will almost certainly play for England against San Marino later this month, and it’s possible that will be his only match in October.
The emergence of Juan Mata, Oscar and Eden Hazard as manager Robbie Di Matteo’s preferred creative midfield trio means that Lampard could struggle to get back into the side.
It was almost inconceivable the former West Ham man, now 34, could be dispatched to the bench, such was his perceived value to the side, but he has, and there has been hardly a murmur of discontent from the Blues faithful.
Even though it was a great result and the fact the boys are sitting pretty at the top of the league, these lads tend to be quite cynical and analytical. Normally any exuberance they demonstrate is tempered by a comment or two about how quickly things can go wrong and who should not be in the side.
But no mention of Lamps.
"A similar scenario is unfolding to that regarding Didier Drogba last season, where ‘will he stay or will he go’ became a weekly topic of discussion"
It’s as if they have resigned themselves to the fact that the midfielder is no longer part of this Chelsea side. That may well be music to the ears of some at Chelsea who don’t want to see Lampard extend his contract, which is up at the end of the season.
All their talk was of Hazard and Fernando Torres or, more to the point, just how good is the Belgian and has the form of the £50 million striker turned a corner for the better?
There was no definite conclusion to either of those points. The consensus was that Hazard needs to be examined in the spotlight longer and get a few more months under his belt in a Blue shirt.
As for Torres, they feel that he’s blowing hot and cold, sometimes both in the same game.
Of course, the John Terry affair took up a great deal of the post-match conversation too, with the inevitable conclusion that JT was more sinned against than the sinner in respect to his treatment by the FA.
We await the full judgement from the disciplinary panel in regard to why they meted out a four-match ban and a £220,000 fine.
My sources at the Bridge told me that JT was convinced right from the moment the FA letter dropped on his doormat that he was going to be found guilty by them.
Will he appeal or won’t he?
What will Chelsea’s official response be?
The full judgement will be gone over with a fine tooth comb by Terry’s legal advisors.
None of my Chelsea drinkers could add too much either, some said that he should now just draw a line under the situation and bite the bullet in regards to the punishment. Others wanted him to take the case to the Court of Human Rights – I think that was the drink talking, but you never know. I suspect this case will rumble on for a little while longer.
Anyhow, none of this is doing Lampard any good is it? He is still not getting any attention from the fans.
I try to steer the conversation towards Jon Obi Mikel.
Seemingly out of favour by Andre Villas-Boas, Mikel has become indispensible to Di Matteo since the Italian took over the hot seat earlier this year.
One suspects that it is he who is the first name on Robbie’s team sheet and not Petr Cech or JT.
I had hoped that by mentioning the Nigerian, that they would be tempted to say that Lampard and not Mikel should be the holding player in midfield, but once again, no.
A few suggested that they did not want Mikel in the side, but suggested that Ramires might be better suited to the role. Others ventured that Mikel is actually playing well and deserves to be selected.
It does seem that everything is pointing towards a Lampard exit from Stamford Bridge next summer.
Of course, should a deal not be struck by January he will be free to talk to other suitors.
A similar scenario is unfolding to that regarding Didier Drogba last season, where ‘will he stay or will he go’ became a weekly topic of discussion.
I hope Chelsea deal with this in a much classier manner – Lampard deserves that kind of respect.
If one wants an accurate barometer to determine Frank’s currency in terms of his popularity among the Chelsea rank and file, then one need look no further than the cover sleeve of the official Chelsea FIFA 13 football game.
Decided by a poll of Chelsea fans one sees that the top three players’ images emblazoned on the cover (downloadable free from the Chelsea website – whatever that is).
Lampard makes a presence in the top three, but he and Torres take second fiddle to the new kid on the block – Eden Hazard.
So there you have it, the king is dead long live the king.
I’m looking forward to meeting up with the boys after Chelsea’s next away league game – against Spurs on October 20.
I wonder if Lamps will get a mention then.