While it is still early days, Maurizio Sarri looks to have settled on his Chelsea back four, which could spell bad news for Andreas Christensen.
In the Blues’ opening three Premier League fixtures, their new head coach has gone with a defence of Marcos Alonso, David Luiz, Antonio Rudiger and Cesar Azpilicueta on every occasion with Christensen yet to feature even from the bench.
Ultimately, the Danish centre-half has had quite a fall from grace since making his way into Chelsea’s starting XI last November when Antonio Conte was still in charge.
£36m-rated (via Transfermarkt) Christensen was thrown into the side for the former Premier League champions’ clash at Stamford Bridge against Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United following a bust-up between Luiz and Conte.
Chelsea went on to win that game 1-0 thanks to an incredible header from Alvaro Morata, but Christensen took much acclaim from the fixture after he starred at the heart of Conte’s back three.
From that moment, Christensen never looked back, solidifying his spot in the starting XI at Luiz’s expense.
However, it has been pretty downhill for the 22-year-old after his costly mistake against Barcelona in the Champions League knockout round back in February.
It was his square ball that was intercepted by Andres Iniesta, who then played in Lionel Messi to score his first goal against Chelsea and level the game 1-1, before the Argentina international’s brace in the second leg, which helped send Conte’s men crashing out of the competition.
Further mistakes against both Manchester United at Old Trafford and Manchester City saw Conte practically lose all faith in Christensen with the Italian eventually dropping the Chelsea youth product for Gary Cahill.
Delving into things, there is no other way of looking at it, Christensen’s errors in those games were damaging.
However, they do not erase all the solid work he did in the rest of Chelsea’s games and the fact that he is still a brilliant defender.
Despite his slightly slim frame for a centre-half, Christensen is still very strong in the air, while on the ground he is insanely good at making interceptions due to his ability to read the game exceptionally well.
The Denmark international is also capable of playing the ball out of defence when the team is being pressed, a key characteristic that Sarri seeks in his central defenders.
There are still question marks surrounding Luiz’s capability of playing in a back four, and the Brazilian’s failure to deal with DeAndre Yedlin’s cross for Joselu’s goal in Chelsea’s 2-1 win over Newcastle last Sunday has not done him any favours in convincing people otherwise.
With that in mind and, at 22, Christensen has both the time and ability to wrestle back his starting spot from Luiz.