Seemingly set for another season of warming on the Chelsea bench, Michy Batshuayi proved he still has value at the club with a dramatic late winner against Ajax on the greatest night in Frank Lampard’s short reign in charge.
A mature, professional performance from the visitors looked like earning the Blues a deserved point against the competition’s semi-finalists of last season.
It looked even more like being the case when the Belgian striker blazed an effort high over the bar with the goal gaping shortly after coming on.
However, undeterred, Batshuayi came back again, only this time managing to direct a thunderous close-range effort into the back of the net via the crossbar in the dying embers, in turn sending the travelling faithful into raptures.
The key talking points from Chelsea’s last-gasp win over the Dutch champions were deservedly emerging with three points, their young stars performing superbly, and leapfrogging their opponents in the table. However, Opta have revealed that Batshuayi will have his say in matters after a remarkable statistic was revealed from his goal-scoring cameo.
In coming off of the bench to bag himself a goal, the 26-year-old has scored nine goals as a substitute for Chelsea since the start of the 2016/17 season, four more than any other Blues player.
9 – Since the start of the 2016-17 season, Michy Batshuayi has scored nine goals as a substitute for Chelsea – four more than any other Blues player. Impact. pic.twitter.com/OpqEEEd9G0
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) October 23, 2019
Boasting in his squad what some consider the Premier League’s best ‘Plan B’ in the shape of Olivier Giroud, it is now understandable to see why Lampard is opting for the former Marseille striker instead of the towering Frenchman.
Batshuayi’s impact from the bench was considerable on Wednesday night, finding the space he needed to be presented with two chances, something Tammy Abraham failed to do throughout his time on the pitch.
Granted, this is hugely circumstantial, but it is plain to see that Lampard has another string to his Chelsea bow with the Belgian, and the added competition for places will only work to boost the performance levels of his trio of strikers.
The challenge of usurping Abraham as the club’s number one forward will not be finished after his Johan Cruyff Arena-cameo but will do him no harm as he bids to justify staying on in west London this season instead of moving out on loan.
It’s a long old season being a top Premier League side, and a fit, firing Batshuayi will be yet another positive moving forward for Chelsea as they enter a new era under Lampard.
It doesn’t change the fact that Batshuayi might still consider Chelsea at some point. Just for the development of his career. Securing the away win at Ajax is a good feeling but who would want to spend his peak years playing as the third option to a 22-year-old and a 31-year-old? It’s only a matter of time till a top club come in for his services and offer him the all-important game time to lure him away from the club. As it stands, Crystal Palace are even rumoured to be interested in snapping him up come January.
It remains to be seen how Lampard goes about the striker “situation” cause apparently all of his three strikers want ample playing time and only one seems to be getting it. One thing is certain and it’s the fact that Batshuayi still has value at the club and he should most certainly be ahead of Olivier Giroud in the pecking order.