LONDON (AFP) – Frank Lampard challenged Tammy Abraham to prove he has the hunger for long-term success after the Chelsea striker’s influential display inspired a 2-1 victory against Aston Villa early yesterday.
Lampard’s side ended a run of two successive Premier League defeats thanks to the latest heroics from emerging England duo Abraham and Mason Mount at Stamford Bridge.
Abraham put Chelsea ahead in the first half against the team the 22-year-old striker helped win promotion from the Championship last season.
Trezeguet drew Villa level, but 20-year-old midfielder Mount responded with a blistering volley from Abraham’s assist to seal the points after half-time.
Chelsea remain fourth, six points ahead of fifth-placed Wolves, as they chase a Champions League berth in Lampard’s impressive first season in charge.
Abraham scored 26 goals in 40 appearances on loan at Villa and, his confidence sky-high after that success, he has enjoyed a breakthrough season with Chelsea.
His 12th goal in all competitions for Chelsea this term includes 11 in 14 league appearances and Blues boss Lampard expects him to maintain the speed of his development.
“Tammy is near the top of the goal-scoring charts, stretches defences, starts our press and he’s growing as a personality in the dressing room,” Lampard said.
“When he comes out of the team he’s a player you miss. He’s a hungry boy.
“I wouldn’t set him a (goal) target. All you would say is every game can you score and can you be hungry for the team? At the moment he is doing it.”
Like Abraham, Mount is thriving under Lampard, who coached him on loan at Derby last season and has given the dynamic midfielder his chance on the big stage.
“I don’t think Mason should be mentioned solely on goals. I thought his all-round game in the second half is what we would expect of him. He won the ball back in good areas,” Lampard said.
Lampard had been frustrated with Chelsea’s lack of creativity and cutting edge in their shock 1-0 defeat against West Ham last Saturday, so he was encouraged by the way they dominated against Villa.
“It was the team I wanted to see. West Ham was the only game this season when we haven’t been up to par,” he said.
“We have got a lot of credit for our energy and attacking play. That was missing at the weekend but today we were back to where we were. I’m happy but I want more.”
Abraham’s return from the hip injury that ruled him out of the West Ham game made Chelsea a far more incisive unit and the youngster broke the deadlock in the 24th minute.
Showcasing his nuanced penalty area movement, Abraham edged subtly away from Ezri Konsa to meet Reece James’ cross with a clinical close-range header.
Abraham’s strike should have been the signal for Chelsea to go for the kill, but instead the creaky defence that has been their Achilles heel at times under Lampard was breached in the 41st minute.
Cesar Azpilicueta, caught out of position, gave Ahmed Elmohamady space to swing over a cross towards Trezeguet, who had no problem getting in front of the ponderous James.
Despite almost losing his footing, the Egypt midfielder got his head to the ball, diverting it onto his foot and past Kepa Arrizabalaga at the near post.
Chelsea needed an immediate response after the interval and they delivered in the 48th minute.