Andreas Christensen delivered an assured performance during Chelsea’s Champions League match against Qarabag. Although the opposition wasn’t the most testing, the defender has to take advantage of every opportunity that presents itself and he made no mistake on Tuesday in the heart of the back three. This was always likely to be a game that Antonio Conte shuffled the pack and the Danish international was one of those that stood out as a potential first-team regular.
The most noticeable part of Christensen’s game is how composed he is on the ball. He never panicked when he had possession and is comfortable when put under pressure. The 21-year-old finished the match with a pass success rate of 99% as he misplaced only one of his 90 passes. It is clear that he is trusted by the rest of the team, as he completed more passes than anyone else on the pitch.
It is preferred that defenders are comfortable in possession, especially in the 3-4-3 system that Conte uses at Stamford Bridge. However, they must be able to defend too. John Stones is a great example of a player with a lot of technical ability, but issues in his defensive game. Christensen showed that he is an effective reader of the game as he was always in the right position at the right time. He completed four ball recoveries and three clearances to help the defence keep a clean sheet.
Chelsea have been regularly criticised for the way that they use the loan system. They regularly send multiple players out on temporary spells and several have suffered as a result. However, since the appointment of Conte, there is now a route to the first-team. Victor Moses was the success story last season and Christensen could undergo a similar rise during this campaign.
The 21-year-old has a lot of talent and the two-year loan spell at Borussia Monchengladbach has clearly helped him fulfil some of his potential. However, he needs to continue to grow and he will be pushing for further chances in the team after this performance. Conte will have to rotate more than he did last season and the lack of depth at centre-back means that Christensen should get plenty of matches.
At the age of 21, he could develop into a starting centre-back at Chelsea for years and this season could dictate whether he achieves that or not. Conte isn’t afraid to operate a meritocracy for team selection and Christensen could be the main beneficiary of that this season.