Chelsea manager Graham Potter will know that victory against London rivals Crystal Palace this afternoon will be imperative, with securing three points are all that matters in the fight to climb back up the Premier League table.
Despite a lucrative £315m spending spree since the arrival of Todd Boehly as owner last year, the Blues have suffered an internal collapse, hardly helped by the barrage of injuries with which the club have been beset, leaving them in mid-table mediocrity.
Indeed, in tenth place and with a miserable seven defeats from the past ten matches, the west London outfit are falling into very dangerous territory and could see European qualification of any kind falling out of their reach.
Victory for Potter would put Chelsea on 28 points after 19 Premier League matches, and in order to bypass the resilience of Patrick Vieira‘s Crystal Palace, stability and flair needs to be at the heart of proceedings.
To achieve this, Mason Mount‘s performance will likely be crucial to the result, with his role as the Blues’ conductor and his creative ingenuity perhaps providing the spark, the definitive moment, which can finally stabilise the ship.
While Kai Havertz might retain his role as Chelsea’s centre-forward, it is Mount who might just be the offensive focal point in his team’s endeavours for success.
Having made 25 appearances this season, scoring three goals and supplying six assists, the “incredible” Mount – as dubbed by Joe Krishnan – has been a shining light in a lacklustre team, with his average Sofascore rating of 7.25 ranking him second among outfield Chelsea players in the current Premier League campaign.
Averaging 1.6 shots and 1.4 key passes per match, maintaining an 81% passing accuracy, completing 60% of his dribbles and winning 1.6 tackles per game, Mount’s all-encompassing work could indeed be the difference in a fixture that Chelsea simply must win.
As per FBref, Mount ranks within the top 5% of midfielders in Europe’s top five leagues over the past 12 months for rate of non-penalty goals, the top 2% for rate of assists, the top 5% for shot-creating actions and the top 1% for touches in the attacking penalty area. This all serves to highlight the threat that he offers in the final third.
His vibrancy is invaluable to Chelsea, and whenever the Blues rekindle the form required to get them on an upward trajectory once again, the 23-year-old will almost certainly be within the thick of the action.
With optimism fading, Potter must work his magic to inject some life back into his team, and against Palace, the foundation could be paved for a revival ahead of the business end of the season.
The “world-class” Mount, as dubbed by Sam Inkersole, will need to channel every ounce of his creative calibre today; without him, Chelsea might struggle to defeat even a Palace team in poor form. Potter simply must trust in the 23-year-old once again this afternoon.