Friday 28 April 2017

Delighted Moses finally reaping benefits of dedication

Chelsea 2 Tottenham 1

Victor Moses celebrates after scoring the winner as Chelsea defeated Tottenham at Stamford Bridge
Victor Moses celebrates after scoring the winner as Chelsea defeated Tottenham at Stamford Bridge

Glenn Moore

Victor Moses always had talent, but his transformation to table-topping wing-back will have caught a few former team-mates by surprise.

Moses scored the winner as Chelsea defeated Tottenham, once again, at Stamford Bridge.

Victor Moses celebrates after scoring the winner as Chelsea defeated Tottenham at Stamford Bridge
Victor Moses celebrates after scoring the winner as Chelsea defeated Tottenham at Stamford Bridge

This was his seventh successive Premier League start and he was finally able to state afterwards: "I feel like I have found a home here. It's my club."

Moses joined Chelsea in August 2012, for £9m from Wigan, and under Roberto Di Matteo and Rafael Benitez actually played 43 matches that season, including 28 starts. This was despite disappearing mid-season to win the African Cup of Nations with Nigeria.

Then Jose Mourinho returned and, as is his wont, quickly decided Moses was not his kind of player. The winger was swiftly banished on loan, to Liverpool, then Stoke, then West Ham. He had a season at each, but never seemed to settle.

This pre-season, however, Antonio Conte saw enough to retain Moses at Stamford Bridge. He gave him a series of substitute outings in the league, and starts in the EFL Cup.

Tottenham's Christian Eriksen battles with Chelsea's Nemanja Matic. Photo: Matthew Childs/Reuters
Tottenham's Christian Eriksen battles with Chelsea's Nemanja Matic. Photo: Matthew Childs/Reuters

Then came Conte's reshaping of Chelsea to 3-4-3 and Moses' unexpected deployment at right wing-back. As an attacking counterpoint to the more defensively-minded Marcos Alonso on the other flank Moses has been reborn.

Conte must have rare perception, for few other managers would have trusted Moses in a position with such defensive responsibilities.

Seven years ago I was privileged to spend an evening on the Crystal Palace bench during a League Cup tie against Manchester City.

Victor Moses was then a young player of potential, a few months shy of his 19th birthday. He had tricks, he had pace, he had desire; but time and again, as he either lost possession or was out of position, the old stalwarts on the subs' bench beside me would shake their heads.

Tottenham's Christian Eriksen celebrates scoring goal. Photo: Stefan Wermuth/Reuters
Tottenham's Christian Eriksen celebrates scoring goal. Photo: Stefan Wermuth/Reuters

Moses, however, is a determined man who has forged a career at the highest level despite a traumatising childhood in which both parents were murdered in a religious riot in Nigeria.

Smuggled to England as an 11-year-old asylum seeker his football ability was the making of him, earning him a scholarship to a prestigious public school and a contract with Palace. He has been prepared to learn, graft, and wait for his chance.

Now it has come. There have been some unexpected diversions on the journey, but Moses at last has the opportunity to show his talent. "I'm pleased the manager has given me a chance to express myself," he said.

He is, though, still learning the role and can expect the better opponents to examine that education.

On Saturday, Moses was aided by the suspension that ruled out Danny Rose, whose attacking forays from left-back may have tested his defensive abilities.

With space to attack he was instrumental as Chelsea rallied to win after a chastening first 40 minutes in which Spurs were manifestly superior.

Next Saturday another test awaits against a Manchester City team with pace and penetration on the flanks. Moses, though, will not shirk the challenge.

Meanwhile, Tottenham - who told £30m record signing Moussa Sissoko to stay at home following a spat with manager Mauricio Pochettino must pick up the pieces. This was Spurs' first Premier League defeat of the season but they have just one win in 10 games in all competitions.

Christian Eriksen scored his first Premier League goal of the season and Tottenham dominated the match until Pedro's strike just before half-time galvanised Chelsea. © Independent News Service.

Irish Independent

Promoted articles

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport