Chelsea vs Roma: Zappacosta fails to allay concerns over Moses absence in six-goal thriller

You could hear the concern in Antonio Conte’s voice when he admitted Victor Moses’ injury was a big loss to his side after limping off early in the 2-1 defeat to Crystal Palace – describing the Nigerian international as an ‘important player‘.

“This is another bad situation. We have to check tomorrow (Sunday) with the medical staff. But for sure it is another loss, a big loss for us. You know very well the importance of this player to our team.”

Moses is by no means the most talented player at Conte’s disposal this season but he does undertake one of the most crucial roles in the starting XI, as one of the physical and industrious wing-backs that makes the Blues 3-4-3 system so consistently effective.

Chelsea sought to acquire competition in the summer but after missing out on Kyle Walker and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Davide Zappacosta was brought in on Deadline Day at a cost of £22.5million – a reputation of being a Conte favourite from his Italy days preceding him.

Based on evidence thus far though, barring an accidental wonder-goal on his debut, Zappacosta’s influence pales in comparison to the man he’s filling in for, and it could even be argued he’s been somewhat of a liability for the reigning champions.

Against Crystal Palace on Saturday he struggled to get into the game, while giving the ball away was a recurring theme of his performance against Roma last night, as Chelsea and the Serie A outfit duked out a 3-3 draw at Stamford Bridge.

Indeed, only two Chelsea players were dispossessed more times than the 25-year-old last night and only two players had a worse pass success rate. In fairness, Marcos Alonso didn’t enjoy the greatest night on the ball either as Roma looked to pressure the wide-men, but Zappacosta’s contributions out of possession were limited to just one tackle, one interception and three clearances.

With those returns in mind, it’s no surprise Roma managed to penetrate the Blues’ defence three times. In fact, all three of the visitors goals came in the channel between Zappacosta and Cesar Azpilicueta, suggesting there was a lack of organisation and communication between centre-half and wing-back.

Conte eventually brought Zappacosta off with time to spare for Antonio Rudiger, but that appeared to be a tacit admission that the summer signing, who Transfermarkt value at just £7.65million, will start against Watford this weekend.

But the Blues boss does have other potential options for the role – chiefly Rudiger and Azpilicueta. So after a disappointing night for Zappacosta, who would you start there on Saturday?