Victor Moses proving vital for Conte and Chelsea
Victor Moses scored and created as Chelsea beat a stubborn Burnley 2-1 at Turf Moor on Thursday night. The win keeps the Blues five points behind fourth-placed Tottenham Hotspur. Four games remain to overhaul the deficit.
With a Champions League place still up for grabs, every point is crucial for Chelsea from now until the season's end. Applying pressure to Spurs could yet pay off, allowing Antonio Conte's men to redeem a somewhat disastrous campaign.
At a time when both manager and club were in dire need, Moses delivered a man of the match performance against Burnley
Moses was an integral part of the Chelsea team that secured the Premier League trophy just less than a year ago. The title triumph came in Conte's debut season in English football. The Italian proved doubters wrong by romping to the top in style. Chelsea's dominance came with a squad largely the same as Jose Mourinho’s underperforming team from the previous campaign.
Moses was previously considered not good enough for Chelsea's first team. He was sent out on loan throughout Mourinho's two seasons in charge. Conte, however, placed faith in the Nigerian. He became a regular starter instantly. His manager's show of confidence acted as inspiration for the winger-turned-fullback. He has continued to deliver great performances since.
For Victor, it was a significant victory. After four frustrating years as a loanee, hopping from Wigan Athletic, Liverpool, Stoke City and West Ham United in search of first-team opportunities, he had finally earned a place at Chelsea. The former England youth international played like a man with a point to prove. He didn't look out of place in the star-studded side. In fact, Moses was among Conte's most trusted players.
Chelsea's focus now is on winning the FA Cup and achieving a top-four league finish, having failed to defend the title as well as suffering last 16 Champions League elimination to Barcelona. Moses, though, is world-class regardless of his team's troubles. He would command a starting position in all the world's top sides. Last season's contribution earned him the 2017 Nigerian Player of the Year award. He was also nominated for the CAF African Footballer of the Year.
When Conte signed Davide Zappacosta last summer, many felt Moses' prolonged spell in Chelsea's first-team had come to an end. The former Torino right-back was considered a like-for-like replacement. But the Nigeria international has not only retained his place this campaign, he has proven more important than ever.
Conte is a man on the edge at present. Poor performance, as well as disputes with the club's board, leaves his role in serious doubt. Striving to salvage Chelsea's season, the Italian tactician has at least found some joy in Moses' devotion to the cause.
After producing a stellar performance in the last league game, Moses helped the Blues book a place in the FA Cup final with a 2-0 win over Southampton on Sunday. He is without doubt a pivotal figure at Stamford Bridge; one that Conte and Chelsea rely on.