Before the start of the current season, Victor Moses had not featured in a league game for Chelsea for more than three years. But now, he finds himself being one of the first names on Conte’s team sheet thanks to a string of wonderful performances. He has been deployed in a wing-back position that is relatively new to him but has performed extremely well.
Moses, now 25, was out on loan at Liverpool, Stoke City and West Ham over the past few seasons. But his time at all those clubs was curtailed by injuries. Thus, he never got a continuous run of games to help him. He did reasonably well in his last loan spell, which was at Upton Park. That’s perhaps why Chelsea opted against farming him out on loan again.
Since Conte’s change in formation, Victor Moses has featured in every game and impressed massively. He already has 2 goals to his name this season. For someone with so much defensive responsibility, he seems to be able to get forward at will and get back effectively too. This is down to the engine that Victor Moses possesses. He’s always been a player to put a shift in and get his socks dirty and the wing-back position seems to be tailor-made for him or at least Conte has made it seem like that.
How Chelsea’s system suits Victor Moses
The arrival of N’golo Kante in the summer has also benefitted Chelsea hugely as the midfielder has forged a great partnership with Serbian Nemanja Matic in midfield. Both have been instrumental in Chelsea’s victories so far this season. Moses is able to get forward freely as he knows that one of Kante or Matic will drop back, which gives him the freedom to surge forward and join Chelsea’s attacks on a regular basis. This is something we saw him do a lot in the 1-0 win against Middlesbrough.
Against the team from riverside, Moses had 3 shots and put in 5 crosses. That’s quite a lot for a player who is in the team primarily as a wing-back. But don’t let his initial position fool you. Conte has masterminded this in a very astute way. Cezar Azpilicueta, who is a right back by nature, has been deployed as the right-sided center half and he, rather than his defensive partner David Luiz, is given orders to get slightly forward and cover at times for Moses. This allows Moses to bomb on and get forward with great effect.
The position Moses is playing in does need him to be disciplined defensively, but it is all about deciding when to get forward and at the same time have the awareness to track back when you are on the defensive. Moses is enjoying that he has the freedom of the touchline and this truly allows him to play like a natural winger as opposed to an orthodox wing-back like Marcus Alonso, who has also impressed since slotting in there.
How Conte can help him progress further
When Conte was in charge of Juventus and the Italian national team, he had players earmarked to play in the wingback positions. More often than not, these players were given the freedom to surge forward and contribute in attack, something all of them did to great effect. Playing in the position needs attributes like high fitness levels, willingness to run and Victor Moses is surely not lacking any of these qualities as he has them in abundance.
Another reason why Moses has been so effective in tracking back is that he has Antonio Conte beside him on the touchline to scream instructions into his ears and this has helped Moses massively as it has taught him how to master the position and make it his own with a couple of fine displays.
Tougher tests ahead to come
Although Chelsea have kept 7 clean sheets on the bounce, this might be tested when they come up against Spurs at Stamford Bridge this weekend. Spurs themselves have two fullbacks in Walker and Rose that like to bomb forward and this will be a test of Moses’ and Chelsea’s resolve. Moses will have to be careful in dealing with Danny Rose’s attacking runs and must ensure that he does not stray forward too often and leave space in behind him for the England international left back to run into.