January 26, 2021

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MIDFIELD BATTLE  Ross Barkley is up against Mason Mount to be Chelsea’s No.10, but who will Frank Lampard pick?

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Frank Lampard has something of a selection headache at Chelsea given the excellent form of both Ross Barkley and Mason Mount.

The two midfielders have been Chelsea’s best players during the pre-season tour of Japan and also starred in the 4-3 win over Reading on Sunday.

Having gone a goal down to the Championship side, Barkley equalised for the Blues with a superb free-kick from 25 yards, while his link-up play was also first-class.

Mount came on for the second-half, as Lampard made a number of changes at the Madejski Stadium.

In a case of anything you can do, I can two better (get it), Mount netted a brace to cap off another win for Chelsea.

It looks very much like Lampard will go with a 4-2-3-1 formation, meaning only one from Barkley and Mount will play behind the striker as the chief creator.

talkSPORT.com takes a look at who is likely to start against Manchester United on August 11.

Experience

This is an area where Barkley will have a clear edge over Mount.

The 25-year-old began his career with Everton and made his Premier League debut in 2011, before being loaned out to Sheffield Wednesday and then Leeds.

Barkley would become a mainstay in the Everton team upon his return in 2013, playing 179 times for the Toffees and impressing in the top-flight.

He also has 29 caps for England and played in the 2014 World Cup.

Five years younger, Mount has been with Chelsea since he was a six-year-old and played for both the Under-18 and Under-21 sides.

In 2017, he was loaned to Dutch outfit, Vitesse for a season, featuring 39 times and scoring 14 goals.

The following campaign would be spent at Derby, where despite being sidelined for two months with a hamstring injury, Mount still managed 44 appearances as The Rams lost out in the play-offs to Aston Villa.

He has played for England at all age levels through to Under-21 and has four caps.

Advantage: Barkley


Style of play

To be the No.10 you must create openings and be the fulcrum of the side.

In Barkley and Mount, Chelsea have two players, who are quite capable of providing spark, should they be afforded the chance.

The first thing that stands out with Mount is his close control. Even under pressure his ability to trap the ball and move to his next action is impressive.

While he is not particularly quick and still developing physically, his speed of thought allows him to go past defenders or play in others with precise passes and his work-rate is also another important trait.

A two-footed player, he is able to shift the ball with ease on either side and is not afraid to shoot, much like his manager used to.

Barkley also has excellent technique and has been compared to the likes of Paul Gascoigne and Michael Ballack, due to his athleticism, physicality and ability to drive the play forward.

During his breakthrough years at Everton, Barkley had a tendency to overplay when better options were available.

Last season under Maurizio Sarri, he began to show an improved level of understanding, passing in the right areas, as well as contributing defensively.

While his style became slightly more conservative as a result, he still showed the ability to arrive in the box and score, such as his stoppage-time leveller against United last October.

Like Mount, he is also comfortable with either foot and appears to be thriving in a more central role, unshackled from the rigid demands of ‘Sarri-Ball’.

Advantage: Draw


Goals and assists

So far in pre-season, Mount is Chelsea’s leading scorer with three goals, while Barkley has two.

The latter netted the winner against Barcelona and then followed that up with a sensational free-kick, while Mount showed a poacher’s instinct to finish inside the box twice at Reading.

Over the past two seasons, Mount has netted 25 times, (14 for Vitesse and 11 for Derby) showing he knows just where the net is and assisted six goals for Derby last campaign, although it is worth remembering this is in the Championship.

Ultimately, the final decision rests with the new Chelsea manager, irrespective of who the fans believe should play.

Mount played under Lampard at Derby and is highly rated at Stamford Bridge, where he signed a new five-year dealwith the club earlier this month.

Barkley is no stranger to Lampard, having played in the England set-up during the tail end of the latter’s international career. The Liverpool-born star even credited ‘Super Frank’ as his idol growing up.

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