LONDON // Some landmarks defy rational analysis. Frank Lampard scored his 200th goal for Chelsea as they strolled to victory yesterday, a tally that is just two behind the all-time Chelsea record held by Bobby Tambling.
He has scored at least 10 goals in each of the past nine seasons, a record that would be prodigious for a forward but which for a midfielder is absurd. And that is without mentioning the 39 goals he scored for West Ham United, the 27 for England the one he got on loan at Swansea City.
It is an enviable record, and age seems not to have diminished him, which makes Chelsea's ongoing reluctance to offer a new contract all the more baffling.
It is true he turns 35 in June, but Lampard has always been a fit player - his goals record, of course, in part a result of the fact he so rarely misses games through injury. And while Chelsea may be undergoing a process of rejuvenation, and perhaps trying to reduce their wage bill with an eye on Uefa's Financial Fair Play, it is hard not to wonder why he has not been offered at least a one-year extension to his existing deal.
"It is one of my best days," Lampard said. "Obviously, winning the Champions League and championships are the best, but personally getting 200 goals for the club, I never thought I would touch that, so I am pleased to get it.
"Everyone keeps talking about the goalscoring record, I would rather people kept quiet. We are in good form and everyone is at it. There is a good feeling around the place and we need to carry it on until the end of the season."
The goal was simplicity itself, Lampard left untended in the box to nod in Eden Hazard's dinked cross. His celebration took him in front of the West Ham fans, inflaming supporters already agitated by what seemed a deliberately provocative warm-up from John Terry, who responded to their taunting by turning his back to them and performing a series of stretches that involved flexing his backside in their direction.
Coins and bottles appeared to be thrown at him, while Chelsea's substitutes were asked to warm up at the other end of the pitch.
"When you score 200 goals," the Chelsea interim manager Rafa Benitez said, "you don't think too much about where you celebrate and after you think it would have been better if he had been in another part."
There was a general laxity to West Ham, a strange end-of-term air, and certainly towards the end of the first half they could have been hammered as Chelsea created chance after chance.
On 33 points they stand six points clear of the relegation zone but Wigan Athletic have a game in hand and while it is not likely, neither is it inconceivable that they will be dragged into a dogfight - they have, after all, won just three games since beating Chelsea at the beginning of December.
"We would like six points and to get to 39 points as quick as we can," said the West Ham manager Sam Allardyce. "You have to hope the top players are not on song but today young Eden Hazard made life extremely difficult for us.
"The quality of the players in that area, including Juan Mata, with the support of Frank Lampard, was too much for us on the day."
The second came early in the second half, Mata touching the ball off for Hazard, who drifted into the box and finished low past Jussi Jaaskelainen - the Spaniard's 10th assist of the season.
Third in the league and rising, in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup and in the quarter-finals of the Europa League: at most clubs that would seem a decent season, particularly given how things looked at the turn of the year, but this is Chelsea.
Nothing is ever that simple at Stamford Bridge.
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