Frank Lampard could come back to haunt Chelsea
The decision to have the former Chelsea player’s Lampard’s City stay extended beyond January is a ‘no-brainer’
Manchester City’s Frank Lampard: on January 31st Chelsea entertain City at Stamford Bridge in an encounter that could have a defining influence on who takes the title this season.
To stand only one goal behind Thierry Henry in the Premier League’s all-time scoring charts is a measure of Frank Lampard’s supreme talent.
To score as many in all competitions as Yaya Touré this season – five – with far less game-time is another. And to have the best top-flight strike rate of a goal every 68 minutes, to lead Sergio Agüero (81) and Diego Costa (83), when a midfielder by trade is one more.
Yet perhaps the best indicator of Lampard’s enduring excellence is that these achievements all derive from a man in a 37th year, one whose relentless drive took him to 174 league goals on Sunday at Southampton and who can now hope of overhauling Henry’s mark of 175 for Arsenal.
Manchester City’s loan acquisition from New York City FC of a player deemed too old by Chelsea already appears inspired. Lampard cannot stop scoring and cannot stop being a factor for the defending champions. He stood on four goals in 10 City appearances when coming on as a 65th-minute replacement for Samir Nasri at St Mary’s.
From the moment he glided onto the ball a quarter of an hour later, taking possession on the edge of Southampton’s area, there felt little doubt Saints were about to go 2-0 behind and City would be swapping places with Ronald Koeman’s side to return to the north-west in second place, only six points behind Chelsea.
Suddenly the title race is back on and the decision to have Lampard’s City stay extended beyond January can be filed under “no-brainer”.
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With Touré away at the Africa Cup of Nations from early January until as long as February 8th, if Ivory Coast were to reach the final, then Lampard could even be retained until May .
The prospect has previously been described as “not impossible” by Pellegrini, and it is thought there is a clause in Lampard’s contract that will allow City to do so should the Chilean wish.
Whether City are still in the Champions League next year is one factor being weighed in how long to retain Lampard. After next Wednesday’s final Group E game with Roma, City’s fate will be known so the decision is to be taken then regarding until precisely when he stays at the Etihad Stadium.
Pellegrini’s team travel to the Italian capital, level on five points with Roma and CSKA Moscow, knowing that defeat means they are out of the competition and of the Europa League.
While this would mean a reduction in games, even with no European football there is a strong case for Pellegrini to keep Lampard on until the end of the season for the domestic battles of defending the title and the FA Cup, which starts next month.
Thus far Lampard has been diplomatic in public. “I don’t know. I’m not looking that far ahead. It’s nice that they’re saying that. It’s better that they’re saying that than that they can’t wait for me to go, but we’ll see what happens with that,” he has said.
As Pellegrini takes his team to Sunderland for Wednesday’s match he says: “When Lampard came I expected him to be the same player he has been for his whole career. His quality is the same.”
These are words José Mourinho must hope do not continue to be supported by action in the fight for the championship. On January 31st Chelsea entertain City at Stamford Bridge in an encounter that could have a defining influence on who takes the title this season.
Pellegrini is short of defensive options for the ’s trip to Sunderland following the loss of Vincent Kompany to injury.
City’s influential captain suffered a hamstring problem in the latter stages of the champions’ Premier League win at Southampton on Sunday and will not feature at the Stadium of Light.
Right-back Bacary Sagna could therefore be pressed into action in the centre or fringe player Dedryck Boyata could be drafted in alongside Martin Demichelis. Guardian Service