Belfast Telegraph

Steven Beacom: Lampard and Terry will decide AVB’s Chelsea fate

Frank Lampard was fuming. Sitting on the bench his eyes were full of rage. You would have thought that with other half Christine Bleakley leaving flop ITV show Daybreak this morning he would have been full of the joys at the weekend.

Not so. When the England midfielder, who missed a first half penalty, was taken off during Chelsea’s Premier League win at Newcastle on Saturday, there was shock and anger from the normally placid 33-year-old.

In the end the decision of underfire Chelsea boss Andre Villas-Boas proved correct with the Blues scoring twice after Lampard’s exit to emerge as 3-0 victors.

After a run of largely disappointing results, this was a much needed success for the Blues and a fortunate one because David Luiz should have been sent off early on and Newcastle were unlucky to hit the bar more times than .... X-Factor reject Frankie Cocozza.

The scoreline was flattering with late goals from Salomon Kalou and Daniel Sturridge adding to Didier Drogba’s opener, but it was a welcome boost for the Blues and the beleaguered Villas-Boas ahead of Chelsea’s biggest game of the season.

Tonight the Stamford Bridge outfit host Valencia in a clash that will define their campaign.

Draw or win and they make the knockout stages of the Champions Laegue. Lose and they go out of Europe’s most prestigious competition.

And the heat will intensify on Villas-Boas, who like all the other rec ent managers was recruited to bring the European Cup to west London, not be eliminated from the competition before it becomes interesting and be relegated to the Europa League.

Villas-Boas needs a big performance from his team and he needs his big players behind him.

And despite all the big money signings in the last few years, those big players remain captain John Terry, Drogba and Lampard.

That’s part of the problem at the Bridge with that trio having more clout than a manager would like. For Villas-Boas though they’ll also offer a solution tomorrow.

The bottom line is that AVB needs the old stagers.

They will determine his fate as more than anyone else they can inspire Chelsea to the result they need over Valencia. We may even see Frank smile again.

Belfast Telegraph

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