After a difficult first four years at Chelsea, which saw him shipped off on loan in each of the last three seasons, Victor Moses has experienced a completely different atmosphere at the London club this season.
Coming on the heels of one last loan spell, at West Ham United, a campaign in which his potential began to fade, he was an unused substitute more times than he completed 90 minutes, playing in only 21 games all season, few months down the line. Now he has been playing a pivotal role in Chelsea’s title charge, pinning down his position like every other regular.
Since the 3-0 defeat at Arsenal in September last year, and a change of formation to 3-4-3, Moses slotted into the wing-back role like he was born to play that role. Sky Sports pundit, Jamie Carragher, described him this way: “He looks perfect for the system.”
He offers not just the offensive burst forward that had been lacking at Chelsea for a while, his 44 completed dribbles this season, beaten only by Eden Hazard and Diego Costa at Chelsea, completely dwarfs Marcos Alonso’s 13 and leads every other fullback or wing-back in the Premier League this season.
But that’s not all, Moses has learned the defensive duties of a wing-back and so far, he has mastered it. He has been dribbled past only 1.7 times every game. That figure may be considered low for a fullback, but for a winger that was converted into a wing-back, and playing only his first season in the role, the number is impressive.
Antonio Conte admitted he didn’t envision Moses playing in the wing-back role when he informed the Nigerian of his intentions to keep him for the season.
“If you asked me before the change if I imagined him in this new position, I would say no because we started to try to play with the 4-2-4 and I always saw him as a winger, a very good one- but a bit poor defensively,” explained Conte, who now believes Moses has become a ‘complete’ player.
“When I decided to change the system, I wanted to try him in this role, to work with him in a different situation, and he showed me great commitment to understand and to study the new role, above all in defensive situations. Now we have a complete player, offensively and defensively.’
In hindsight, Victor Moses has been, the very missing piece to Chelsea’s puzzle but like the last three seasons, he could have been shipped out on loan as usual and his obvious potential could have paid the price. All he needed was the right environment and the will to show the stuff he’s made of.
Slaven Bilic had admitted the player’s quality before Chelsea visited West Ham United on Monday night.
“I remember once we had training and I spoke to [Dimitri] Payet during last season. It was him I think and a couple of other players. Payet said that Victor, including himself, is the best player that we have in West Ham. I mean, seriously. It was about time to show what he had in himself and explode in a positive way – he has done it. He looks on the pitch very concentrated and very serious. He became a tough player.”
Victor Moses’ display this season, once again questions Jose Mourinho’s many failures at Chelsea. For one, the sale of Juan Mata to Manchester United, Kevin De Bruyne to Wolfsburg, among others. Each one of these sales have proven the former ‘Special One’ wrong again.
If anyone is more pleased with Victor’s show and consistency at Chelsea this season, it surely will be the set of fans who support the Super Eagles of Nigeria.