VICTOR Moses scored a crucial late winner for Chelsea recently against Shakhtar Donetsk. It was his 3’rd goal for Chelsea and followed on from him opening the scoring at Swansea the previous Saturday, and winning a penalty against Manchester United a few days earlier in the Capital One Cup. He must now surely be pushing very hard for a starting place?
As you will remember, he played for Wigan against his new club on the opening day of the Premier League season. Chelsea’s number 13 signed for the club for a fee of £9m. That looks like a very good transfer fee. As he was in the final year of his contract, the fee was a lot lower than it would normally have been. This is similar to Gary Cahill’s purchase for just £7m from Bolton. Both deals represent excellent business by Chelsea.
Moses was born in Nigeria, but was forced to flee the country after the murder of his parents. You can read more about that here. After being in England for so many years, it appeared he would eventually represent his adopted nation at International level. He presented England at under 16, under 17, under 19 and under 21 levels, but after apparently growing frustrated at Stuart Pearce’s baffling under 21 selection policy, he decided to play for Nigeria. He had been called up by Pearce for an U21 game at Doncaster, but failed to make the 16 altogether. Stuart Pearce fielded him only once, against Uzbekistan in 2010, but then substituted him at half-time. He recently scored twice for Nigeria in an African Cup of Nations qualifier – a 6-1 win (8-3 aggregate) against Liberia. He will now feature at the tournament in South Africa, which starts on the 19th of January.
Moses’ England youth appearances:
England U16 – 1
England U17 – 15 (9 goals)
England U19 – 12 (2 goals)
England U21 – 1
His manager at Wigan, Roberto Martinez, had glowing things to say about Moses this week:
He is an old-fashioned type of winger, with incredible raw talent that allows him to go past people. He brings real penetration to the wide positions. Teams are so well set-up tactically these days that you need players who can bring something different, and they don’t appear that often. Victor could have been a real weapon for any team in world football.
He made his Chelsea debut in a 0-0 draw at QPR. After replacing Ramires on the right of the 4231, he created an excellent late chance for Eden Hazard from a cut-back. His next Chelsea appearance came against Stoke City. He replaced a tired looking Hazard after an hour, and again did well, having a hand in the move that led to Ashley Cole’s late winning goal. His first start came in the Capital One Cup against Wolves. He played 83 minutes on the right hand side, before moving up front for the final 12 minutes. He won a penalty and scored his first Chelsea goal in that game, heading in a cross by Oscar. He then got 17 minutes as a substitute at Arsenal, helping to hold on to a lead by tracking Kieran Gibbs’ advances from left back.
His first taste of European Football came away to Nordsjælland. He started on the left-hand-side. Although he had a fairly quiet game and was replaced after 64 minutes, he performed his defensive duties excellently. His game time then dried up somewhat – he was an unused sub against Norwich and Tottenham, then failed to make the 18 altogether for the away game at Shakhtar, and then again was only an unused sub for the home league game against Manchester United.
That made his start in the Capital One Cup against the same opponents in to an important outing for the young Nigerian. It was a chance for him to impress, and him getting a full 120 minutes would have been very good for his match fitness too. He destroyed Alexander Büttner to win a penalty, and late in the game he was played through on goal by Daniel Sturridge but was not able to finish. Despite not showing much chemistry with César Azpilicueta going forward on the right, the pair got the nod to start at Swansea. The right side was very secure defensively while Moses was on. Once he was substituted, Chelsea struggled up that flank and the Swansea goal came as a result. Moses was one of Chelsea’s best performers – carrying the ball well, holding off opponents with his upper body strength, and heading the team in front after Gary Cahill had flicked on a corner.
It is quite a surprise that all three of his Chelsea goals so far have come from headers. He is not particularly renowned for that aspect of his game, and he is not particularly tall either. Some of it may have to do with his excellent leg strength and ability to leap. He has had fairly limited chances to play since joining Chelsea, but has made the most of every sub appearance that has come his way. Of all the options at Di Matteo’s disposal in the third band behind the lone striker, Moses brings the best balance to the side. Whilst Ryan Bertrand or Ramires are effective defensive wingers, neither offers much attacking threat. Whilst Mata, Hazard and Marin are fantastically creative, none are particularly strong defensively, or provide natural width and crossing ability. Moses can provide that width, do his defensive duties excellently, and as shown by his 3 headed goals, his all-round skill set is very strong. This makes him both an ideal squad player (aided by his versatility) as well as an attractive option against teams with significant threat from fullback.
This weekend, Chelsea face Liverpool, who have exactly that sort of player in Glen Johnson. Last season, Johnson scored a late Liverpool winner in this game after bombing forward untracked after a quick switch of play. Moses’ defensive nous would be welcome in front of Ryan Bertrand (Ashley Cole is injured). Mata appears a certain pick in his current form, and Oscar’s ability to close down opponents (as mentioned here) will be especially useful against Joe Allen, who is crucial in initiating Liverpool’s attacks. That means Eden Hazard would be used as an impact substitute. Hazard’s best displays came early in the season, when he played behind the striker, and had less defending to do with Bertrand on the left (at Wigan and against Newcastle). Considering his best spells in games in recent weeks have been when Chelsea have been trailing, as he has stepped up and demanded the ball, he is a good character to come on to change a game. As much of a disappointment as it would be for Di Matteo to break up “MAZARCAR”, it may be best for the team. Moses might just be the perfect man to help shore up the flanks.
It appears Moses has a big future at Chelsea. Although he is only 21, he has been playing regular first team football since the age of 17, and his time at Wigan allowed him to gain experience and refine his game. He plays like an experienced player because he is one – he has played over 160 career games already. Martinez described Moses and Wigan’s constant relegation battles as “the biggest test you will find in football. I saw how he reacted, he was ready to take on that responsibility.”
Last season Moses scored 6 league goals and got 6 assists, and his devastating display against Bakary Sagna (a top quality right back) was perhaps the moment he came of age as a player. The fact that Roberto Di Matteo tried to sign him a few seasons back when West Brom manager, shows he rates him highly, and may have been the chief reason Chelsea moved for him. It looks like the direct winger will have a major part to play for Chelsea in years to come.