FRANK LAMPARD delivered the Champions’ League football Roman Abramovich demands in his debut season as Blues boss – and will head into Saturday’s FA Cup final against Arsenal on a huge high.
Take a bow son!
Two goals in first-half stoppage time from Mason Mount and Olivier Giroud left Wolves wondering what had hit them at the end of an otherwise uneventful first half.
Bruno Fernandez’s second half penalty for Manchester United against Leicester at the King Power may have robbed Chelsea of third place.
But Lampard’s achievement in finishing fourth – despite a transfer ban and the loss of Eden Hazard – should be applauded as he looks to build a new Blues dynasty.
His new £45million arrival Timo Werner watched on from the posh seats as his teammates guaranteed him a Champions’ League stage to strut his stuff on when he returns after a mini close season.
However it’s likely Lampard will have a new goalkeeper between the sticks by then after ruthlessly axing Kepa from his starting line-up here.
The Chelsea boss knew when he picked his team he only needed a point – and he made one by dropping the world’s most expensive goalie.
The sloppy Spaniard cost £76.1million but now faces a summer of uncertainty as he waits to discover if Wednesday’s 5-3 defeat at Anfield turns out to be his swansong for Chelsea.
“It’s just a choice,” said Lampard in his pre-match interview. “Kepa’s had some difficult times so I’ve picked Willy.”
But to swap goalies ahead of such a crucial match speaks volumes and it’s unlikely to have a fairytale ending now for the 25-year-old keeper who is likely to be flogged to the highest bidder ASAP – despite having four years left to run on his £150,000 a week contract..
It remains to be seen if Lampard will relent and recall Kepa at Wembley for the FA Cup final in six days time – but if I was Kepa I’d bring a cushion along!
Both sides had one eye on Europe and nerves took hold during a deadly dull first half which was short on incident and certainly won’t live long in the memory.
But all that changed as the backroom boys started pouring out the players’ half-time cuppas.
Marcos Alonso earned his side the softest of free kicks – and Wolves wrath – by conning a free kick out of ref Stuart Attwell one minute into stoppage time.
And as Chelsea’s three-man wall ducked in front of Wolves’ version, Mason Mount swept a brilliant dipping delivery over the wall and into the far corner of Rui Patricio’s net for his 7th Premier goal of the season and first goal since March 8.
Wolves wobbled momentarily and Chelsea cashed in by adding a second three minutes later through their new man of the moment.
Oliver Giroud took a Mount pass in his stride after good work from Christian Pulisic and chopped inside Wolves onrushing goalie Rui Patricio.
Wolves skipper Conor Coady appeared to have recovered to snuff out the threat but Giroud brushed him aside to sweep the ball home for his sixth goal in six starts.
Nuno Espirito Santo now needs Chelsea to do Wolves a favour by winning the FA Cup next week to open the door for another season of Europa League football.
Better still, they could still make the Champions’ League by winning the Europa League itself – but will have to improve on this toothless performance.