With only a few days before the new Premier League season kicks off with Chelsea’s first game against Manchester United, Lampard faces a selection dilemma between Ross Barkley and Mason Mount. Lampard seems likely to play a 4-2-3-1, meaning only one of them will be selected to start.
I will be breaking down on who should start through three sections and giving my opinion about them under each section.
Barkley’s form in pre-season has been excellent, with him finishing as the top scorer with four goals. Frank Lampard seems to have successfully revived Barkley’s form and brought him back to the qualities he showed during his Everton days. Mount has also been showing promising talent, finishing behind Barkley with three goals. Mount, who played under Lampard for Derby last season, continues to impress the Chelsea fans with his talent and performance.
Playing ability and Style
To be a No.10, strong qualities like technical ability and vision are key. Technical ability requires the player to be strong in passing, ball control and dribbling. Every time a No.10 receives the ball, they must be able to find space with a pass, create openings through dribbling and able to continue the play or reset the play. Vision requires creativity and in game intelligence. The No.10 should be able to see a scoring chance before receiving the ball and be able to execute well in the final third of the pitch. They should be able to orchestrate the game.
Both Barkley and Mount possess the qualities of the No. 10 role and are capable enough to play the role. The advantage that Barkley has over Mount is his physical presence, his gifted goal scoring ability and the ability to drive / break lines in the final third.
One thing that Mount excels more than Barkley is his ability to control the ball under pressure. Mount during his season at Derby was able to maintain possession under pressure with the ball consistently, while Barkley under Sarri lost possession of the ball many times, as seen last season. I do note that pace and the quality of the EFL Championship is a lower standard than the Premier League, but Mount has also shown this ability consistently in the preseason.
Experience and Familiarity
In my opinion, experience is key in football and a vital consideration to take in. Barkley has a clear advantage in experience over Mount. Barkley, who is 25 made his Premier League debut with Everton in 2011. In 2012, Barkley spent a short loan spell with Sheffield Wednesday and in 2013 with Leeds. He rejoined Everton in the 2013-2014, continuing to first team football with Everton till joining Chelsea during the January window in 2018. Mount, who is 20 years old began his first team Football on loan at Vitesse for one season in 2017. Then in 2018, Mount spent a season at Derby under Lampard.
Lastly, Mount has the familiarity advantage due to the fact that he had already spent a season under the guidance of Frank Lampard at Derby.
My verdict is that Barkley should be Chelsea’s starting No.10. This is due to the fact that going into this season Chelsea has lost a significant goal scorer, Hazard. As we know that Hazard is irreplaceable, thus Chelsea needs to replace Hazard with more than one player and needs players on the pitch who will score. I believe that Barkley is a better goal scorer than Mount and can drive the ball in the final third better, hence he is a more effective goal scorer and creator.
However, I believe that Lampard prefers Mount due to the fact that he is familiar with Mount as a player. The last game of pre-season against Borussia Mönchengladbach seems to be Lampard’s preferred starting eleven, in which Mount was selected ahead of Barkley.