After a month of fans questioning his ability in an England shirt, Mason Mount returned to Stamford Bridge to show – as he has done for the last three seasons – that he’s Chelsea’s best and most important forward player, and the vaccine to the Graham Potter “disease”.
Mount remains undervalued by Chelsea fans, some of whom, for some reason, would rather see Kai Havertz, Christian Pulisic or Raheem Sterling as the top dog. But their influence, significant though it was against Bournemouth, would have been little to none were it not for Mount, who remains the beating heart of a Chelsea attack which jumped into action on Tuesday, having barely murmured under Graham Potter before the the World Cup.
Asked before the game what the plan was for the January transfer window, Potter said he was focused on getting far more out of the players already at his disposal. He realised they had drastically underperformed through their worst Premier League run for a decade. This was more like it.
Tony Pulis, on punditry duty for Amazon Prime at Stamford Bridge, said the biggest challenge for Chelsea under Potter is coping with the “disease” the manager’s brought with him from Brighton – namely, not scoring goals. And if anything, the Potter disease has mutated at Chelsea, creating a situation where his players aren’t just not scoring, but also not creating chances. Nine goals in eight Premier League games and just two in their last five is not good enough, no matter the rebuilding caveats.
Mount is the vaccine to the Potter disease. He popped up all over the place, all evening, and was involved in pretty much everything of attacking note.
He found space behind the Bournemouth midfield – who didn’t lay a glove on him at any point – to feed sterling, who fed Havertz for Chelsea’s opener, and set up Havertz, Sterling and Denis Zakarai (who impressed on his Premier League debut) for further chances with which they perhaps should have done better.
But it was Mount’s goal, and not just the goal and the brilliant finish itself, which perfectly illustrated his value to Potter and Chelsea. Before expertly curling the ball around Bournemouth defenders and into the corner from outside the box, he had shown great determination and strength to keep the ball against the odds, then stretched to zip the ball perfectly into the path of the onrushing Zakaria before it arrived back at his right foot.
This was the best performance of the season not just from Mount, but also Pulisic, Havertz and Sterling ahead of him, all of whom rely on Mount to win the ball back and choose them as the right option at the right time.
And while caution is required due to the level of the opposition – Bournemouth were really poor – the stabilty Potter craves after a whirlwind start to his Chelsea career should see that front four played together for the foreseeable future. They linked up really nicely.
And if any one player should be immune from forward tinkering it’s Mason Mount, without whom Chelsea’s attack would be predictable, stunted and diseased.