Victor Moses works Chelsea system to emerge as a key player for Antonio Conte
There must have been times over the last few years when Victor Moses wondered where his career was heading. Even though loans spells at Liverpool, Stoke City and West Ham United were not without their high points, this was a period lacking strong roots, a rather uncertain time that did not seem to offer him a definitive way forward in his career.
Part of the problem, you could argue, was that he never did quite enough elsewhere to make Chelsea think he should be back at Stamford Bridge competing for a place. Moses was like so many signed by the west London club – an obvious talent deemed surplus to requirements, so sent out on loan to keep his hand in.
Conte brought Moses back into the fold CREDIT: REX FEATURES
A ntonio Conte, however, saw enough in pre-season to make the Nigeria international part of his plans. And in the first game of this campaign against West Ham, Moses came off the bench to play his first league game for Chelsea in three years.
Even then, though, you could never have guessed how things would develop, how he would win a starting place in a side who must now be considered as real contenders in this title race . Sunday’s emphatic win at Southampton, Chelsea's fourth on the spin without conceding a goal, proved another ringing endorsement of Conte's five-man defence that has Moses going great guns on the right side.
As you would expect of an attack-minded player with this kind of skill, he offers adventurous ideas on the front foot. After scoring against Leicester a couple of weeks back, Moses could easily have added another one or two here after letting fly from dangerous areas. Fraser Forster twice could not keep hold of well-struck shots.
Moses celebrates with Costa after his goal CREDIT: REUTERS
B ut if that goes with the territory for someone of his type in a team on the up, more impressive still was his defensive work when Southampton pushed on. Quite often, Moses could be found sitting deep in a five-man back line who were more than happy to soak up the pressure.
Talking of territory, this is all new, but Moses showed real tenacity and resilience on several occasions to see out the threat on that particular flank. In fairness, it must help to have someone like Cesar Azpilicueta a few yards to his left. As one of the best defenders around, the Spaniard was constantly shouting across to keep his team-mate in line.
If that was not enough, Moses could always rely on his manager to point out failings. Well within shouting distance in the second half, the effervescent Conte would surely have had something to say when Moses failed to stop a cross from Ryan Bertrand.
Southampton v Chelsea: key match stats Play! 01:02
T hat apart, there was not much to criticise. In this wing-back role, you have to be very fit and Moses clearly has the legs and power to shuttle up and down all day. Twenty-six in December, he is still a young man, but also one with less miles on the clock than some others of his age.
Armed with that asset, the 11-year-old boy who arrived in this country as an orphan has clearly matured over recent years.
Anyone under Conte must be able to follow orders to the letter and Moses is showing that ability week after week.
With a few minutes left at St Mary's on Sunday , he was substituted by Conte, who gave him a big hug. On came Branislav Ivanovic, an old-school defender marvellous in his day but whose qualities do not suit this athletic role.
So if Conte continues with a system that has brought him so much success in the past, Moses would appear to be very well placed. A career previously heading in an unknown direction has taken a very surprising and enjoyable turn. Moment of the weekend
It took me back to the day Arsène Wenger chose to regally stand on a platform after being sent to the Old Trafford stands.
Mourinho was sent to the stands on Saturday CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES
T his time, Jose Mourinho took up a front-row seat before being ordered to go further up. When he tore up his scribblings at the end, Burnley could congratulate themselves on a job well done. Player of the weekend
Two touches, two goals: pretty impressive stuff from Olivier Giroud. Even so, the Frenchman will do well to replace Alexis Sánchez as Arsenal's central striker. Sánchez was sensational against Sunderland, his movement for the first goal confirming he understands the role. In fact, he bears all the qualities necessary to thrive in this position. Hero of the weekend
This is quickly turning into a season of goalkeeping heroics, with Maarten Stekelenburg, Ben Foster and Lee Grant on the list. Joining them on Saturday was Burnley's Tom Heaton who pulled off some stunning saves to deny Manchester United. Everyone wants to play well when returning to old clubs. Heaton took things further with his heroics.
Heaton had a sensational game at Old Trafford CREDIT: REX FEATURES
Villain of the weekend
W e do not hear much from Rui Fara, Jose Mourinho's long-standing side-kick.
Given the chance to speak, then, it was a shame he resorted to his manager's class by sarcastically praising referee Mark Clattenberg for every decision. A chip off the old block, for sure. Thanks for that Rui. You wasted a chance to spread some humility.