‘Mason Mount: England call-up deserved?’ by Glen Goddard

At the age of just 20, and in a large part down to Chelsea’s transfer ban, Mount has been thrust into the first team and has taken it all in his stride. Be it behind the striker, part of a midfield three, or placed out on the left wing, not once has the youngster looked out of place or out of his depth and for us, would be fully deserving of an England call up. As we will see below, picking at parts of his performance from his first three matches, Mount’s versatility is key in helping him become a very unpredictable individual, couple that with an undying stamina and a relentless tenacity evoking memories of a certain Carlos Tevez approach at chasing the ball down, he appears to have a very bright future. An odd comparison I know, but one I stand by, Tevez defined the word tenacious on his good days.

Mason Mount vs Manchester United (4-0 loss)

Let’s start with the heat map. Lining up behind the striker, clearly a lot of faith had been put in him by Lampard. Despite the scoreline, Mount was one of the few players to shine. The map below shows that Mount’s position knew no bounds, especially in the opponents half. If the ball was there, he wanted it, and he has already gained the trust of his teammates that they are more than happy to give him it too. For the full 90 minutes, Mount strode across the pitch with an endless energy which gave his team a lift. Albeit a fruitless task come full time.

Heatmap: Mason Mount vs. Manchester United (SofaScore)

With his instructions seemingly being almost a free roam, go where needed kind of role, Mount had the freedom to chase down loose balls, pounce on the oppositions mistakes and ultimately win the ball back for his team in the oppositions half. Looking at the image below through the app StatsZone (@Statszone) we can see that Mount recovered the ball for his side on 8 occasions, 6 of which were in the oppositions half. Now considering the 4-0 scoreline, that’s an impressive stat.

Winning the ball back in those positions was a bonus, and Mount seemed to flourish just as much when it came to productivity. Finishing the match with an 81.6% passing accuracy, making 4 key passes, and even testing the keeper with 2 shots on target. This was no mean feat when making your Premier League debut.

Then we come to his direct play during the match. When out of possession, he made the point of chasing down the opposition relentlessly. When in possession he was just as effective, moving into space and always wanting the ball. Looking at the example below we can see Mason Mount on the left of the image. He has seen the gap between the four United players and has dropped into it. Knowing the ball is coming his way, his head is already up looking over his shoulder for a teammate in space.

With his first touch he knocks it straight out wide and turns and begins to run. Mount’s anticipation is key here, as he already knows the next pass is not intended for him. Although he knows he won’t receive the first ball, he can see the space behind his teammate (just out of picture to the left), and sprints without hesitation.

Mount is now in full stride and is shrieking where he wants the ball. His teammate provides it and in the space of five seconds, the ball has past five United players in four touches. With the defenders being dragged towards the ball, Mount capitalises and relies on his teammates passing ability as he runs past the last man on the halfway line.

Now with the whole side of the pitch to himself, Mount bounds down the sideline with the United players struggling to gain anything on him.

Getting towards the edge of the area, Mount is already looking up and planning his next move. With no one in the box, he needs to drive in a further few yards before releasing the cross towards his teammate.

Unfortunately for Mount, this didn’t result in a goal, or even an opportunity. As he crossed the ball into the box, it was blocked by the covering Wan-Bissaka who incidentally had a fantastic match.

All in all, Mount put on a near faultless display in the face of a 4-0 defeat. How many players can say that?

Mason Mount vs Leicester City (1-1 Draw)

Second game of the season, a second start and a second position out on the left wing (until substitutions in the second half placed him on the opposite side of the pitch). This was a game where the Chelsea fans, along with the football fans watching on got to see a glimpse of the versatility of the 20 year old. Looking at the heat map below there’s a distinct difference to the area covered in comparison to the United match, almost looking like he was hugging the line. With the primary focus attacking down the left, and tracking back on defensive duties. His boundless stamina is built for this kind of role.

Heatmap: Mason Mount vs. Leicester City

Once again, it was his defensive efforts that stood out. Pressing from the front keeping the opposition under constant pressure and forcing them into mistakes. This ultimately led to the goal and is a fine example of the kind of player Mount is developing into. Looking at the stat below, he recovered the ball on 6 occasions, mainly down the left wing. This stat obviously doesn’t take into account the amount of times he forced the opposition into making errors with his approach.

His attacking stats however, tell us a different story to the above images. His attacking third passes were not limited to the left wing, some were central, and some on the right wing. When out of possession, Mount was drilled in what was expected and where to cover. But after the transition into an attack, a different story emerges as he appears more central.

It’s easy to see, especially from the shooting stats, that Mount was always in the thick of it, and central during the attacking phase. Finishing the match with an 84.4% passing accuracy, making 1 key pass, and even testing the keeper with 3 shots on target and his first goal for the club. Mount continued setting the standard.

The below from the match against Leicester shows the relentless determination of the youngster when his team are out of possession. With Leicester in possession, Mount is highlighted in blue, initially next to Choudhury. But as he reads the game watching the player in possession he knows Ndidi is the target of the next pass.

The pass is played and Mount is already on his way to close down the defensive midfielder. Note the distance between the two players from when the ball is passed to when Ndidi has it in possession (use the cut of the grass to gauge distance).

The Leicester player has had to take two steps towards the ball to collect it. In that time, Mount has more than halved the distance between them. Whilst Ndidi is having to collect the ball, and turn to look for the next pass, Mount has been sprinting in a straight direction and it is obvious that within a couple of feet Mount will have caught up.

It doesn’t appear as if the Leicester player had received a shout from his teammates and was caught almost unawares. With little reaction time, despite the strength difference, he doesn’t have time to shield the ball from Mount, who’s agility and speed allow him to take the ball from the opposition with ease.

Now with the ball in his possession and the defensive midfielder breathing down his neck, the goalkeeper slowly advancing to cut off the angle, and on top of that Mount begins to lose his footing, you’d be forgiven for thinking that this had “scuff” written all over it. But somehow he managed to get enough power and precision on the ball as he was falling to the ground to slot it past the keeper. Ability beyond his years.

Mason Mount vs Norwich City (3-2 win)

In Chelsea’s last match against Norwich, Mount’s position appeared to be very similar to the way he set up against Leicester. However, with Jorginho, Barkley and Kovacic (no real ball winner) lined up behind him, and possibly a bit of a brazen approach at a perceived quality difference, the whole closing down approach was nowhere near as urgent as in previous matches. Which almost cost the club a victory.

Heatmap: Mason Mount vs. Norwich City

This is shown in the below stat when it comes to Mount recovering the ball for his side. Despite the perceived quality difference, the amount of recoveries the youngster made was very limited, which could be down to how the side were set up to play by Lampard.

It could also be thought that there was less ball recoveries because Chelsea had the lions share of the possession but this was simply not the case. Chelsea had 54%, Norwich 46%, most of which was in their own half. In the previous two games, Mount and the rest of the players would have been closing down constantly. But their approach was different in this match and as said above, nearly cost them the win against the newly promoted side. It surely can’t be fatigue already.

Mount’s passing side of the game, was once again extremely consistent finishing the game with 82.1% passing accuracy mainly in the oppositions half. Making 2 key passes, Mount showed once again what a creative force he is becoming, also getting 2 shots on target and another goal to his name.

Now the below is something that hasn’t been mentioned yet. He most certainly is a presence on the pitch, and we know he likes to drop within the space between the opposition to receive a pass. But the below shows his dribbling, technique and finishing.

With the midfield in possession, Mount has positioned himself goal side of the opposition’s right back, but just outside the centre back (highlighted blue).

Mount anticipates the pass forward to Pulisic and is already on the run. Knowing the centre back will be drawn out to close his teammate down, he bends his run staying on side as he waits for the ball to be fed to his feet.

The ball didn’t come straight away however, so Mount changes his run to come inside the centre back. As this is done he receives the pass and knocks it past the last defender with ease on the turn.

Already past the last man, his head is up and he sees there is space in the box to run into. He then looks at the keepers and sees that the keeper is still on his near post.

Without hesitation and only a couple of touches, Mount smashes the ball into the far corner of the net completely out of reach of the helpless goalkeeper.

Summary

Mason Mount’s attributes almost seem endless;

• Tracks back when out of possession.
• Closes down in the oppositions half.
• Wins the ball back in the oppositions half.
• Has played behind the front man, out on the left, and part of a midfield three. Very versatile.
• Loves a give and go pass. As soon as he has passed it, he is sprinting into space further up the pitch.
• Very consistent passing accuracy every game. Above 80%.
• An eye for a pass. 7 key passes in three matches.
• An eye for goal. 2 goals in three matches.

Does he deserve an England call up? Of course he does. The transition from Championship to Premier League is suppose to be a huge gap, but Mount has shown no sign of this being an issue as he continues to perform week in week out.

Alongside the knowledge that he can play in multiple positions can help Southgate out with any selection dilemmas, and his seemingly endless stamina and high workrate are every managers dream.

Hopefully, the knock he took at the end of the Norwich game isn’t a bad one and keeps him in contention.

 

Author: Glen Goddard (https://footyfiles.net/)

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