As they gear up for an FA Cup final appearance and a chance to qualify automatically for next season’s Champions League, Frank Lampard’s Chelsea are riding the crest of a wave.
In his first season at the helm, former midfielder, Lampard, has surely exceeded any expectations the were placed upon him, whether or not their season ends in triumph.
It’s in midfield where he has a problem that most managers profess to wanting the luxury of having – competition for places to the extent where the difficulty is who to leave out.
Former captain, Dennis Wise, believes that N’Golo Kante has to stay as a fixture, with Lampard deciding who to rotate or sell amongst the plethora of talent he has at his disposal.
“I would say the main person is Kante, for sure, and then you can have a mixture of Kovacic, Barkley or Mount,” Wise said in a Q&A, cited by the Daily Express.
“I think it would be out of those four to make up the three which sit in there [in a 4-3-3 formation].
“Mason Mount has done extremely well, and Barkley has gone through a spell of really doing well. It’s difficult to give you the three, but one of them for sure is Kante. I think he is so important to the team to sit in there.
“You’ve also got Loftus-Cheek and young Gilmour so they’re quality players.
“Loftus-Cheek has obviously been out for a while and it would be unfair to all of a sudden try and push him into that category (alongside the main four players). And the young boy Billy Gilmour, just because he’s so young and developing, I think you’ve got to give him time.
“I think definitely Kante and then two out of the three that I mentioned – Kovacic, Barkley and Mount. It’s a great problem to have.
“Mount has done extremely well in spells, and so has Barkley and so has Kovacic – it’s very difficult to break them up.”
Looking ahead to next season, and with the signings that Chelsea have already made in mind, the Blues are likely to be one of the favourites in each competition.
Expectation isn’t always the reality, but Lampard has shown enough in the short time he’s been in charge to suggest that he’ll continue improving his young side.