Is Victor Moses place under threat from Davide Zappacosta?
With no competition, Victor Moses made the right wingback position his birthright last term under Antonio Conte. This season, there is competition.
Just when I thought I was in, they yank me back out.
Victor Moses' Chelsea story is quite interesting. The young winger found renaissance just when he was about to be written off. A £9 million steal from Wigan in 2012, Moses was expected to become an integral part of the Chelsea team without much fuss. Instead, a series of managerial changes at SW6 saw the Nigerian sent on loan more than once to gain first team football.
Then came Antonio Conte. Fresh from a loan spell riddled with injury, the burly winger returned to Stamford Bridge to fight for a place under the new Italian manager. This time, he wasn't fighting a losing battle.
Conte started off his English career playing four at the back. There wasn't a regular place for Moses in that formation. When the former Juventus boss returned to the 3-4-3 system that won him so many laurels in Turin, things changed. Playing three at the back requires two workaholic wingbacks. Enter Victor Moses and Marcos Alonso. The pair became mainstays in an overtly defensive Chelsea side that bullied everyone on their way to a second league title in a hat-trick of years.
Moses played 39 games (33 in the league), scoring four goals overall. His heroics helped Chelsea qualify for the Champions League this season. That should have meant more games to be played.
With a foreseeable 50+ games to be played, it was only wise for Chelsea to reinforce every position. In defence, Antonio Rüdiger and Andreas Christensen came in. Either would have a hard time usurping David Luiz or Chelsea skipper, Gary Cahill. Monaco's Tiemoué Bakayoko and, after the Ross Barkley debacle, Danny Drinkwater were brought in to beef up the midfield. Alvaro Morata was signed to become Chelsea's ‘new darling' number nine after Conte's volatile bromance with Diego Costa.
After all the attention generated by that group, right wing back Davide Zappacosta flew in from Torino at the deadline, under the radar. The Italian is proving stiff competition for Moses.
Davide Zappacosta is a versatile wingback able to play on either flank. Right-footed, he does more damage from that side.
Conte's experience in Serie A identified Zappacosta as a rightback with excellent attacking instincts. On the other hand, Moses is an attacker who is still not completely reliable in the final third. Zappacosta's goal against Qarabag, cross or not, proves his side of the argument. During Conte's reign, Marcos Alonso has scored eight times and contributed three assists in the league. Moses, a natural attacker, has managed just the three and three from last season. When Conte needed more offence, he typically inserted Willian for the Nigerian.
Zappacosta's superb run and goal plus his assist against the Azerbaijani club show he can push Moses aside if the former Liverpool loanee doesn't improve his game.
Is Moses's position in Conte's team under threat? I say yes. He'll get his chances but Conte won't hesitate to cut him loose if he doesn't improve.