Moses faces fight for Bridge place

Victor Moses says he is full of ‘amazing memories’ in his six-year stay with Chelsea.

“Six years since I signed for the Blues! I’ve made amazing memories so far and hopefully many more to come,” Moses tweeted.

Moses joined Chelsea from Wigan on 24 August 2012, and went had mixed season long loan spells with Liverpool, Stoke City and West Ham United.

His Chelsea career appeared to be going nowhere until two seasons ago when, under Antonio Conte, the winger was converted to a wing-back and flourished immediately featuring in all but four league games in the 2016-17 season as the Stamford Bridge outfit secure their sixth Premier League title.

Last season was not as good for Chelsea in the league, but Moses won the FA Cup, making up for his dismissal in the 2017 final.

This season Moses has been featuring again as a winger under new manager Maurizio Sarri, has made one brief substitute appearance this season.He was left out of the matchday 18 altogether for the weekend win at Newcastle. 

This all means that, for Victor Moses, there is uncertainty once more following two seasons of heady relevance.

Maurizio Sarri, while perhaps not as slavishly wedded to that shape as some might think, has shown the intent to transition Chelsea to a 4-3-3, away from Antonio Conte's 3-4-2-1.

It is not an overly radical shift: move the wing-backs back a few yards, and nudge the centre half forward by the same token and you have a 4-3-3. However, while in Conte's system, the presence of three centre-backs meant an outright winger like Moses could be accommodated, a back four would probably necessitate a specialist full-back.

To his credit, the 27-year-old has grown defensively since taking on the role of right wing-back, showing greater physicality in duels, improved positioning and heightened awareness at the back post. However, it would be a stretch to envision him as an actual full-back. Instead, it is more likely that, if he is to feature under Sarri, he will have to do so as a forward.

That realization brings with it an uncomfortable truth: Moses will be nowhere near as influential at Stamford Bridge as he has been under Conte. It is worth noting that, up while the former Juventus boss fiddled with a back four early on in his Chelsea tenure, the Nigeria international was firmly on the fringes of the team.

In the wide areas, the Blues have a number of players ahead of Moses in the pecking order: Willian and Pedro on the right, and Eden Hazard on the left.

Moses won't shift Hazard, the club's talisman, from the left.

So far Pedro has kept his starting place on the right flank as Sarri likes to have one goalscoring wide option. As an alternative Willian is very much teh next cab off the rank and is a more rounded player than Moses. The Brazilian was in demand over the summer with interest from Barcelona and Manchester United, but with Conte's departure he looks settled again.

Moses also has to contend with the rise to prominence of youngster Callum Hudson-Odoi.

Only 17, he has shone blindingly in preseason, with reports suggesting Chelsea want to keep him. That would certainly make a break from the norm at Stamford Bridge where young players are concerned, and might compromise Moses' chances further.

There may be a ten-year gap in experience between them, but the sense is that spending so long in a defensive capacity has somewhat dulled the Nigerian’s attacking instincts. Hudson-Odoi, with his precocity and direct dribbling both on the inside and the outside is, in many ways, the player that Moses used to be.

 - then it would be difficult to envisage a situation whereby Moses would be in with a shout for any more than a bit-part role.

The best-case scenario would be appearances in the domestic cups and the Europa League. This offers a modicum of comfort for the winger: Sarri pointedly treated the Champions League's ugly sibling with disdain during his time in Italy, and may do so again and opt for rotation.

Moses should get his minutes this season simply from the volume of games, but unlike Willian and David Luiz who both found themselves out in the cold under Conte, it's Moses who has a new reality to wrestle with under Sarri.

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