In the final minutes of Chelsea’s tense 1-1 draw with Liverpool on Saturday evening Sky’s co-commentator Gary Neville was asked to select his man of the match. It took him little time to pick out the cool Dane in the middle of Chelsea’s back three Andreas Christensen.
It was a familiar sight as the centre-back was the star performer for Chelsea the last time the Blues visited Anfield back in March in a 1-0 win.
For Christensen, this is only the latest in a long run of strong showings under Thomas Tuchel. Since early February when Thiago Silva suffered a thigh injury, Christensen duly stepped in and quickly made the position his own.
Against Liverpool, he showed all the signs of maturity that have become a feature in the best run of his career.
He was aggressive when needed, swiftly covered space vacated by others and cleared calmly whenever a ball was played into Chelsea’s box. These may all seem on the surface like basic defensive responsibilities, but it is the ease to which Christensen makes his job look now which is so impressive.
There were certainly doubts over whether the 25-year-old would make it at Stamford Bridge, as he struggled for consistent form or chances under several coaches. There were also question marks over his durability to deal with the intense physicality of the Premier League on a weekly basis, even if his guile on the floor with neat passing is a necessary trait.
He has silenced all doubters this year and looks to only be growing in stature as his place in Tuchel’s starting lineup becomes further solidified. Christensen looks like a player really enjoying his football and his influence for his nation at EURO 2020 has likely given him more self-belief he can remain at a high level for a longer period.
All of Christensen’s work is being rewarded with a four-year deal which is set to be agreed with Chelsea soon to extend his stay in west London. The switch in fortunes for a player who could have been on his way out if things had played out differently is quite extraordinary. Though luck should be used to explain this rise in prominence, it is has been on Christensen to perform at the high level for Chelsea and maintain a starting role which he has.
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In a defensive trio with club Captain Cesar Azpilicueta and the dominant Antonio Rudiger, the more introverted Christensen can sometimes go under the radar.
He is not overly expressive on the pitch and does not appear overly vocal, but his actions prove his presence for Chelsea is more than loud enough on a weekly basis.
Neville’s praise is the next step in Christensen’s journey to become one of the club’s most trusted defender. It only feels inevitable he will be receiving more man of the match awards as his prospering career continues in blue.
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