Frank Lampard the unsung hero at the heart of Chelsea
Frank Lampard's display for Chelsea against Liverpool once more served to reinforce what an amazingly consistent performer the 30-year-old midfielder has developed into. Maybe it's his failure to win over public opinion, maybe it's the way he suffers – for his country – because of the warmth felt towards Steven Gerrard, maybe it's a even a dislike of his manner. But it remains quite astonishing how he has remained one of the most under-rated players in the Premier League. And, it shouldn't be forgotten, in Europe also. Last summer it was only really Jose Mourinho's Internazionale who vied for his services as he stalled on a new contract at Stamford Bridge which he eventually signed. Maybe his age counted against him but trumpeted interest from Spain and the rest of Italy was false. There was no real market. Lampard's statistics – pass completion rates, interventions, yards covered – are almost as impressive as his goal-scoring and his ability to play game after game, shake off fatigue and remain one of Chelsea's fittest players. He has played the most matches for the club this season and already has 18 goals. Once more he has comfortably reached double figures and is just three goals behind top-scorer Nicolas Anelka. Lampard's two against Liverpool were classic. Not just for their importance and timing – without them Chelsea would have been out – but there execution. The first was all about determination and desire to reach the ball and force it over the goal-line, the second was about superb, honed technique. Again his intervention – as with last season's penalty – had propelled Chelsea past Liverpool in the Champions League. In John Terry's absence it was also a true captain's display. If anything he has reached a new level this season and for that Fabio Capello must take great credit also. A watershed moment was Lampard's performance for England in Croatia when he showed the discipline he has at times lacked. He played for the team and has grown and matured for that, holding his position, not trying to seek glory. Interestingly Lampard had to first convince Capello that he was a team player. Even his fellow professionals don't appear to appreciate him. In the shortlist for the PFA's player of the year there are five Manchester United players and Gerrard. Ok, the votes are taken early but Lampard's omission is still surprising.
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