According to reports from AllNigeriaSoccer, Nigerian international Victor Moses is a doubt for coming friendlies against Senegal and Burkina Faso, which consequentially makes him a doubt for Chelsea’s Premier League clash with Stoke City this weekend.
The unsung star may not be the most talented name on the Chelsea team-sheet but he has become one of the most important since Antonio Conte’s switch to a 3-4-3 formation, providing the perfect balance of physicality, athleticism and attacking flair down the right-hand side.
The Blues can afford to drop a few points this weekend, currently ten ahead of the pack at the Premier League’s summit, but the concern is that Conte’s squad lacks an obvious replacement for Moses, following Branislav Ivanovic’s departure in January.
Nonetheless, there are a few options that deserve Conte’s consideration ahead of the trip to the Britannia Stadium. We take a look at three…
The obvious choice as the only senior right-back in Chelsea’s squad, Cesar Azpilicueta is a natural fit for the right-sided role. Although his defensive attributes have made him a permanence in the Blues’ starting XI since arriving from Marseille, the Spaniard can make a difference going forward too and certainly has the natural stamina to burst up and down the flank for ninety minutes. But Azpilicueta has been a bedrock at the back for Chelsea and his turn of pace is vital to their three-man defensive line, which Conte will be reluctant to disrupt.
Willian certainly has the natural industriousness to replace Moses’ box-to-box efforts down the flank, and he’d provide the Blues with another threatening runner on the counter-attack. Defensively too, the Brazilian is capable of playing his part – but there’s a reason Conte has preferred Moses to last season’s Player of the Year; Willian’s lack of power and leap will make him an easy target at the back post. The gap between Azpilicueta and Moses has been a weakness for Chelsea this season, and placing Willian there could leave it even more exposed.
Conte will be keen to triumph where his predecessors failed in giving chances to young players at Stamford Bridge and the Italian is clearly a big fan of 20-year-old Ola Aina, issuing him outings in cup competitions and two substitute appearances in the Premier League this term. The youthful right-back seems a natural fit for Moses’ role and has already featured there briefly this season, although he’s yet to complete a full ninety minutes for the Blues and Conte will be reluctant to throw him in at the deep end against a Stoke side in decent form.
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