It's an ill wind, and all that sort of stuff, so when Ramires limped off after 26 minutes in Sunday's game against Swansea, with the sort of injury that looks like a two or three week job, it probably handed Frank Lampard a few additional first team starts that he wasn't expecting. He duly obliged by setting up a goal for Oscar, before netting from the penalty spot to bag 201st Chelsea goal. He now lies just a solitary goal behind Blues legend Bobby Tambling, who was the club’s guest at the game.
Tambling’s tenure at Stamford Bridge spanned the sixties, and he was very much the goal-scoring threat of the team in my formative years, before the ‘show-biz’ Kings Road Set times of Osgood, Hudson, et al. Never one particularly for the limelight, the undemonstrative striker was largely unrecognised outside of the west London fans, but was capped twice for England, scoring one goal. He’s widely recognised at the club not only as a top goal scorer, but also as a thoroughly decent bloke. Interviewed after the Swansea game, Lampard remarked how, in a pre-game conversation, Tambling had said how keen he was to see him break the record. For a club whose name is often featured for less worthy reasons, it’s nice to note that the club have named a suite in his honour.
Lampard’s incredible scoring record is brought into sharper relief when it’s noted that he is a midfielder, not a striker, and despite being shuffled back into as holding role when he has featured this year, he has still maintained his ten goals a season tally. Now with the Brazilian side-lined, it seems likely that the opportunities he has available to break the record, will have grown by a couple or so. If Chelsea can overcome Basle in the home leg of the Europa League semi-final on Thursday, Chelsea will have another five games before completing their marathon season. With Lampard likely to feature against the Swiss champions, that means a potential six games to de the necessary; although, in reality, with the Benitez rotation system in flow, that will probably end up as being three or possibly four.
Will that be enough for Lampard to get the brace he needs? It’s a debatable point, but with the club still mysteriously seemingly steadfast in not offering him as new contract, it seems to be a now or never situation for him. It will be ultimately a little sad if Lampard falls short after such a long and illustrious career at the club. It would however be fitting if he featured in the club’s last game of the season against Everton and notched the record-breaking goal to send Chelsea into the Champions’ league qualification positions, in front of the home fans. Drogba had a sensational exit in Munich. Although not quite to that standard, it would be a fitting curtain call for one of the club’s outstanding players of the Premier League era.