Frank Lampard was right not to celebrate Manchester City goal against Chelsea
Frank Lampard may have found himself in a familiar position at the Etihad but it was uncharted territory for the midfielder, even at the grand old age of 36.
Lampard, on as a substitute with Manchester City down 1-0 in a crucial clash against Chelsea, ghosted into the penalty area unmarked, a move he has made so many times in an illustrious career. He volleyed home James Milner's cross to make it 1-1 but, against the club he had called home for 13 years, decided not to celebrate his goal.
We've been here plenty of times before. Just last weekend, for example, Everton striker Romelu Lukaku decided not to celebrate against West Brom after putting the Toffees into the lead, while Mo Diame did the same thing against West Ham for Hull on Monday night. Manchester City 1 Chelsea 1 player ratings
All three players faced criticism for failing to celebrate, with pundits and fans saying it is 'unprofessional' not to celebrate for a team that is paying one's wages. Normally the non-celebration is something that is rightly criticised - but the Lampard case is different.
Apologies for picking on Lukaku and Diame but as the most recent examples they are the easiest targets; it has been a growing trend in the Premier League in recent years.
To take the Belgian striker first, Lukaku spent one season on loan at the Hawthorns in 2012-13, scoring 17 goals in 38 matches for Steve Clarke's team who had an excellent season, finishing above expectation in eighth place.
Such was Lukaku's 'loyalty' to the team that when West Brom tried to sign him for a second season on loan, he elected to join Roberto Martinez's Everton instead. Diame played 79 times for West Ham in just over two seasons.
It may be a mark of respect to fans to not celebrate against the club's fans - we're not suggesting players celebrate like Emmanuel Adebayor against Arsenal when he was at Manchester City - but players move clubs so often that the gesture is watered down.
After the game, Lampard admitted he was "lost for words" and "didn't expect to score". The former England midfielder did not want to leave Chelsea, if reports are to be believed, and has found himself at Manchester City not through choice, but rather circumstance.
He left the Blues for New York City FC, but was loaned back to their parent club until the new MLS season starts.
Lampard is a Chelsea club legend, and arguably the club's best ever player - if he isn't the best it is difficult to make an argument that he falls outside of the top three. In 13 seasons at Stamford Bridge Lampard won three league titles, the FA Cup four times, the League Cup twice the Champions League and the Europa League.
He is a three-time Chelsea Player of the Year, a two-time Premier League Player of the Season, third on Chelsea's all-time appearance list with 648 and the club's record goalscorer with 211.
If one player should be allowed to not celebrate against a former club, it is Lampard.
Belfast Telegraph Digital