The 2-1 win at Wembley over Tottenham Hotspur yesterday was classic Chelsea, grinding out a victory against the run of play in a game they really had no right to win, considering the number of players out injured, Spurs’ home advantage (sort of) and the pressure that surrounded the club last week following the shock 3-2 to Burnley on the opening day of the season.
Antonio Conte was forced to depend on youngsters, unfit players and summer signings that are yet to truly settle into the Blues’ first-team squad. Nonetheless, they dug deep and took two of the rare few chances that came their way, Marcos Alonso supplying both goals with a stunning free kick and a late shot that slipped under Hugo Lloris.
Equally pivotal as the Spaniard’s finishing, however, was Chelsea’s performance at the back. Although Tottenham made it easier for the Blues by trying to play their way through rather than stretching the defence, the visitors put in a valiant defensive performance, epitomised best by youngster Andreas Christensen.
In the Danish international’s first ever Premier League start after returning from a two-term loan at Borussia Monchengladbach earlier this summer, he put in an incredibly impressive display, barring some early hesitance that allowed Dele Alli a fierce shot from an acute angle.
Indeed, the 21-year-old finished up with the most clearances of any Chelsea player, whilst chipping in with three tackles, two blocks and two successful aerial duels. The promising centre-back was efficient on the ball as well, completing all of his 16 passes and recording just one unsuccessful touch.
Plenty of Chelsea players have impressed on loan without earning a spot in the first team before finding themselves sold for a tidy profit, such as Romelu Lukaku and Kevin De Bruyne. But Christensen could prove a real turning point in that part of the Blues’ transfer policy; he’s already looking like a competent performer, a particularly good fit for Chelsea’s back three and in the long-run will spare the Blues a small fortune in the transfer market.