Chelsea: 5 Reasons Frank Lampard Deserves a Starting Spot on Di Matteo's Team
Lampard has long been tipped to be pushed out of both the England and Chelsea lineups due to entering the twilight years of a glittering career, but the Champions League winner possesses a mentality and belief that supersedes the majority of his fellow professionals.
The emergence of the Brazilian Ramires as well as Di Matteo's undeniable faith in John Obi Mikel has challenged Lampard once more, with youngsters Oriol Romeu and even left-back Ryan Bertrand emerging as future candidates for a place as one of the "two" in Di Matteo's 4-2-3-1 formation.
Here is why Lampard still deserves his spot on the team, and why we can expect one of Chelsea's greatest ever players to defy the critics anew.
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Lampard has a wealth of experience from which he can share with his new teammates, who are predominantly inexperienced at the highest level of European football.
Cesar Azpilicueta, Eden Hazard, Victor Moses, Marko Marin and Oscar—Chelsea's summer signings—combine for just 20 Champions League appearances between them while Lampard has played in Europe's premier competition on 92 occasions, inside the top 25 most experienced players in the tournament's history.
While it is admirable that Di Matteo has managed to transform Chelsea's style so rapidly, there will be certain matches or moments where the side will have to draw upon previous traits to overcome some of the toughest competition in Europe.
Lampard can be one of Chelsea's leaders, and his experience will be invaluable in Di Matteo's first full season in charge of the Blues.
Expert Penalty Taker Under Immense Pressure
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Frank Lampard is perhaps one of the most underrated penalty takers around despite being able to dispatch them under the most intense pressure time after time.
Proof of the matter is that Lampard has scored more penalties than any other England player in history, scoring eight times.
Lampard's penalty record for Chelsea is impressive too, attempting 63 penalties in his 11-year Chelsea career and scoring 54 times to give him an 86 percent success rate.
Why is this relevant? Well, the fact that Chelsea are predominantly operating with four central attacking players—Eden Hazard, Juan Mata, Oscar and Fernando Torres—who all enjoy playing the ball into and around the penalty area means that Chelsea will be one of the most likely sides to receive penalty kicks.
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Frank Lampard can stake claim to being the most prolific Premier League midfielder of all time, notching 154 goals over 18 seasons and currently sitting at fifth on the all-time top scorers list.
His Chelsea record is phenomenal too, having scored at least 20 goals per season from 2005-10 and holding an overall record of 189 goals in 568 matches.
Despite a more reserved role in the past two seasons, Lampard has still managed to score 32 goals, a more than useful contribution. Di Matteo might also enjoy the luxury of being able to alter his tactics without making a substitution given that Lampard would be adept at moving into a more advanced role if Chelsea needed to chase the game.
These goals can be invaluable and especially crucial when one of the midfield anchors, John Obi Mikel, has never scored a Premier League goal for Chelsea in 166 appearances.
Passion for the Shirt
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Di Matteo was handed a multitude of technically gifted players this summer in a bid to shift the style of the side.
The problem is that the majority of the signings have tended to be foreign imports who will of course relish the opportunity to play for one of Europe's biggest clubs but will perhaps not have the club in their heart, at least not immediately.
Lampard is a player who cares dearly about the Blues, having played at Stamford Bridge for 11 years and being adored by the Matthew Harding faithful.
Di Matteo will be fully aware that his slick, passing style will not always be able to overwhelm teams. Chelsea may have to call upon other intangible attributes which Lampard possesses in abundance.
Lampard's passion and desire for the shirt can be infectious on his teammates and set a terrific example for the young players that are taking their first steps of their Chelsea careers, undoubtedly inspiring them to achieve greatness.
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Lampard should be included in Di Matteo's starting lineup due to his tactical versatility and ability to flourish in numerous positions and formations.
Originally an attacking midfielder who tended to shirk his defensive responsibilities, Lampard has evolved into one of the most complete midfield players that Europe has seen over the past 10 years.
Known to be one of the hardest workers on the training ground, Lampard ensures that he is one of the fittest players in the league, something that is invaluable for a player of his age. By racking up 568 appearances over 11 years, Lampard proves that he can deal with the energy-sapping schedule that a Champions League side requires, competing on four fronts.
Passing, tackling and off-the-ball movement are all parts of Lampard's game that have improved substantially over recent years and allow him to adapt to a deeper role at a level as equally as high as the more advanced role that he was originally known for.