Chelsea had several standout performers in their 1-1 draw with Liverpool on Saturday, but there’s no doubting who was the pick of the bunch.
Andreas Christensen was an absolute colossus during the match, and the fact he’s now picked up the man-of-the-match awards in consecutive games at Anfield serves as evidence for his renaissance under Thomas Tuchel.
The 25-year-old put in a faultless display at the back as the Blues fought to a point against the odds, winning 3/5 duels, completing 29/36 of his passes, making seven clearances and producing three interceptions.
It’s absolutely no surprise that Chelsea have conceded just two goals in his last 12 Premier League starts.
Christensen has become a truly world class defender, but his road to the top has been anything but plane sailing.
His talent has been undeniable, but he has blown hot and cold with Chelsea fans for a number of reasons since joining the club eight years ago.
In the 2017/18 season, Antonio Conte introduced him to the XI and after a positive start, a few individual errors saw his place in the side come under scrutiny.
One of those was in a last-16 Champions League clash with Barcelona, where his loose pass across his own penalty area led directly to the Lionel Messi’s equaliser. Barcelona went on to win the tie 4-1 on aggregate.
Conte, however, stuck by the then-21-year-old and even declared him a future Chelsea captain – which could well prove true in the coming years.
“I trust Christensen,” Conte said. “I think this player is the present and also for the future for Chelsea. He can also become the captain of this team.”
Another reason Christensen struggled in the recent past is that he used to suffer from nerves before big matches – so much so that it actually made him feel sick, another former Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri revealed.
Sarri questioned his Chelsea side’s mentality after a chastening defeat to Arsenal in 2019 and when asked if he was angry with Christensen, he said: “No, not at all. You know very well that on the match day he has always stomach ache. I don’t know the reason but I think he’s very nervous and he had to go to the toilet so I don’t know what to say.”
The Times also reported that the out-of-favour defender got up and left around the 75-minute mark after Sarri used his final substitution – a decision which unsurprisingly angered Chelsea fans.
Under Frank Lampard last season, Christensen fell out of favour and made just 17 appearances.
Kurt Zouma, who has been offloaded to West Ham for £30m this summer, was favoured ahead of him.
His performances under Tuchel, though, have been incredible.
“He loves Chelsea, he is a Chelsea boy from the academy,” the German said of the player after the Liverpool draw. “He feels trusted, he is a top defender and a top, top guy. He is growing in personality and self-confidence.”
The superb displays of Christensen has even seen Thiago Silva – Chelsea’s best defender last season – kept out the side.
It’s no wonder the club have offered the centre back a new four-year deal, with that set to be formally announced in the near future.