Chelsea manager Antonio Conte may have struck gold in converting attacking winger Victor Moses into a wing-back for the Blues.
The 25-year-old Nigerian international joined Chelsea back in the summer 2012 from Wigan after putting in a strong 2011/12 campaign for the Latics, scoring six goals in 38 Premier League appearances. He went on to play in 23 games during his first season at Chelsea. But after that promising first season he fell off the radar at Chelsea when Jose Mourinho returned to Stamford Bridge for a second spell as manager, and Moses was sent out on loan for three consecutive seasons at Liverpool, Stoke City and West Ham United.
He played well for West Ham last season, and returned to Chelsea for the preseason camp in the United States. Conte like what he saw from the speedy winger and he was named in the first team squad for the 2016/17 season. After starting the season as a winger in the 4-2-4 formation, he was moved back to wing-back when Conte switched to a 3-4-3 formation after the team had been leaking goals.
It’s only been two games, but with the new formation the Blues have picked up two wins and kept two clean sheets. The team seems a lot more balanced, and it might be that Conte is able to get players to buy into a system that he knows like the back of his hand after his time with the Italian national team and Juventus. Conte has liked what he’s seen from Moses so far this season, and praised him after the win over Leicester.
“When I arrived at Chelsea I told the club I wanted to see Victor in preseason because I knew him very well and I knew about his great potential,” Conte said after the 3-0 win over Leicester on Saturday. “He played well as a winger when we were playing with a 4-2-4. He’s a very good player, now he’s playing as a wing-back and it’s fantastic because he pays great attention in defense and can go one against one in attack. Alonso always played this role but Moses is a winger. His education is fantastic. I’m pleased for him. If someone shows they deserve to play I have no problem, I don’t care about the surname.”
A lot of players get sent out on loan from the bigger clubs in England never to be seen at the club again. Moses did have the benefit of being sent out on loan to other Premier League clubs, which made it easy for the Chelsea brass to keep an eye on him, but after three straight seasons of getting loaned out, the likelihood of Moses taking a spot in the Chelsea squad seemed pretty small.
So Conte deserves credit for taking a hard and long look at the players at his disposal and seeing something in Moses. He’s been outstanding at the wing-back position as he’s shown that he’s defensively sound and a real threat going forward. He picked up a goal against Leicester, and seems to be thriving in his new position.
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The goal against Leicester came after a great run inside the penalty area and a deft backheel pass by youngster Nathaniel Chalobah. The celebration is almost as impressive as the goal, but he might want to avoid doing backflips every time he scores, as there’s an inherent injury risk when attempting something like that. Chelsea fans should feel good about the new system that Conte is implementing and the emergence of players like Moses and Chalobah.