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Chelsea at Wembley without Lampard, Terry? That feels weird

Apr 13, 2013, 11:38 AM EDT

Frank Lampard

The FA Cup semifinals kickoff in a little over an hour when one of relegation-embattled Wigan or second-tier Millwall will take another step in their Cinderella run. While those stories are sure to garner tremendous attention once full time’s blown at Wembley, I’ve been focused another piece of news from this weekend’s matches in London – a factoid that both makes me feel old and doesn’t feel quite right, given what these players still have to offer.

Based on London correspondent Dominic Fifield’s reporting for The Guardian, it looks like neither Frank Lampard nor John Terry will play a part for Chelsea against Manchester City on Sunday. I’m not talking being held out of the starting XI. I’m talking about no place on the bench, no need for a kit – you’re not even in the 18, guys. I hope the shrimp’s fresh in your box because you’re watching from the suites.

From Fifield’s piece:

The impact of the changing of the guard at Chelsea will properly hit home in FA Cup semi-final with the interim manager, Rafael Benítez, expected to leave John Terry and Frank Lampard out of his lineup to confront Manchester City.

Both senior England internationals have been regulars for their club at Wembley since it reopened, with Lampard having started all of Chelsea’s 11 visits to the arena and Terry missing only one Community Shield in that time. More strikingly Lampard has played in 32 of the 34 semi-finals or finals of the Roman Abramovich era, missing only the two League Cup semis of 2008 with a thigh injury, with Terry playing in 27.

I’m not saying Benítez should include Terry or Lampard. Chelsea has a very deep team, and there’s justification for each player’s diminishing role.

But people may use this as a log on the fire they”ve been prepping to roast Lampard and Terry’s careers. With the two Blues icons fading, there seems to be a subtle race to be the for person to correctly predict when their Chelsea days are done. A sea of naive explorers guiding their ships into the void, one will luck on the right day, put a flag in it, and triumphantly emerge to celebrate their fortune.

Perhaps it’s continued resentment from Chelsea’s oligarch-fueled rise, because critics seem to be giving Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes more leeway at Manchester United. Ledley King got all the time he wanted at Spurs. Even Jamie Carragher’s obvious and prolonged decline was treated with less predatory fervor than the quest to sign off on Lampard and Terry.

In Terry’s case, there’s likely some misplaced ‘ding-dong, the witch is dead’ reaction ready to burst. Regardless, there seem to be a lot of volunteers ready to hand these legends their coats.

It’s a shame, because they still have more to give. Chelsea’s squad has become so bloated by conflicted planning (hello, Marko Marin) they may not sem themselves having room for Lampard. He’s likely to move the summer. And while Terry seems to be accepting he’s not one of the club’s top two (or maybe three) center halves, it remains to be seen if his transition is as graceful as Lampard’s, a transition that ultimately didn’t secure a place at the club.

Each player has more of give. Perhaps they’re not starters for Champions League-contending teams, but you could see Lampard playing a part at a place like Manchester United. And you can see Terry starting and playing well for most teams in the league.

That doesn’t mean they should be in the 18 tomorrow against City, but it’s good to keep these things in perspective. They’re out of Chelsea’s team on Sunday, but there’s still quality there.

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