The meteoric rise of Victor Moses
Believe it or not; Victor Moses has become the driving force of the team topping the Premier League. If anybody had dared to propose such a prediction a year ago, they probably would have been routinely laughed at. However, rather incredibly, the Nigerian has emerged from three desperately underwhelming loan spells with his head and form held high.
This summer saw many expect Moses to leave Stamford Bridge, or at least embark on yet another loan. After all, his time with Liverpool, Stoke City and West Ham United had done little to suggest he could make Chelsea’s starting XI. The Blues won the Champions League just four years ago and have star studded players such as Eden Hazard and Diego Costa, but Moses though, really?
Well everyone, myself included, have been proven so ridiculously wrong. Antonio Conte, as if on some mystic inkling, initially used the 25-year-old as an impact substitute for his gallivanting pace down the channels. This seemed to pay off immediately with the Nigerian finding the net against Bristol Rovers in the EFL Cup and versus Burnley to round off a 3-0 league win.
However, Conte’s switch to the 3-4-3 formation has seen Moses’ meteoric rise accelerate to an unprecedented degree. With the system only wielding two out-and-out wide men, they needed to have stupendous endurance and both a defensive and offensive knack. While it’s never been in doubt that Moses is exactly that player, few anticipated him to take to it so well.
The first game Chelsea set up this way, they dealt Hull City a convincing 2-0 defeat. Moses, starting for the first time, involved himself in more duels and produced more crosses than any other Blues player. That’s not to mention the fact he won the Man of the Match award and aided his side’s garnering of a clean sheet.
In the six games proceeding this, Chelsea continued their unprecedented string of clean sheets, conceding just once in 630 minutes. Moses was a starter throughout this and although his Wigan-like touches still peaked through at times, he looked an accomplished player amongst all the big names. He even scooped another Man of the Match accolade against Middlesbrough as well scoring versus champions Leicester City and the previously unbeaten Tottenham Hotspurs.
Oh and the latter was a winner that sent them to the top of the league, not bad going hey?
It all adds up to an astonishing story. Moses was signed by the Blues in 2012 to much confusion and endured something of a mediocre campaign. That being said, 10 goals in 43 appearances didn’t seem to warrant being loaned out so swiftly, but that’s exactly the fate he suffered at the hands of Jose Mourinho.
The 25-year-old suffered at Liverpool and his two goals saw him play a minimal part in their title charge of that year. The following campaign saw a spell with Stoke City that proved far more fruitful and, coupled with a good pre-season with Chelsea, could have seen his second chance at Stamford Bridge. Mourinho proved stubborn though and Moses limped his way through a catastrophic year at West Ham which, yet again, bore just two goals.
To say Conte had little reason to take a gamble on Moses would be the mother of all understatements. He struggled at far lesser clubs, why on earth would he excel at Chelsea? Well, I guess that’s why I’m not a football manager because the Nigerian has kicked on and in quite some style.
It all bodes incredibly well for the west London side. Players such as Moses, Marcos Alonso and David Luiz being given starts looked, for all intents and purposes, a recipe for disaster. Nevertheless, Conte has found an uncanny knack of turning what appeared mediocre stars into integral parts in a well-oiled Chelsea machine. Besides, it would take an absolute mad man to bet against their title chances this season – bad start or not, they’re flying.
Wherever the Blues wind up though, they can at least be buoyed by players such as Moses thriving under their new boss. It’s perhaps testament to the ex-Juventus boss that he has been able to mount such an offensive on the title without great improvement on the side that finished tenth just a year ago. Simply put, their Nigerian wing-back looks reborn.
Kobe Tong, YJA Senior Correspondent