Armando Broja marked his first Chelsea start in almost a year by scoring his second Premier League goal for the club as we made it back-to-back victories by beating Fulham, on an evening he felt was significant both for himself and the team as a whole.
Having suffered a serious knee injury on our winter training camp last season, Armando Broja has had to remain patient and keep working hard to make his way back into contention. But it paid off, as 324 days since his last Premier League start, against Newcastle United in November, he was back in the line-up for our trip to Fulham.
The Academy graduate wasted no time, either, scoring our second goal in a 2-0 win to get his name on the scoresheet for the Blues for the first time since the 3-0 home win over Wolverhampton Wanderers on 8 October 2022. There was an element of good fortune about it, as it came by blocking an attempted clearance by Fulham defender Tim Ream, but that didn’t dampen the striker’s joy one bit.
‘It’s an unbelievable feeling,’ said Broja. ‘It’s been a long time coming. I’ve been out for a while so it’s good to be back. I’m so happy for the team to win the game and carry on this momentum going forward. It’s an even better feeling for myself to get my first goal of the season on my first start, so I’m just thankful.
‘It's amazing. I always dreamed as a little kid of playing in the Premier League and scoring as many goals as I can. It’s just an unbelievable feeling to be on my first start and score in a derby. There’s no better feeling than to get the three points and to score.
‘As a striker they all count, no matter how it goes in – a goal’s a goal. It’s important for strikers to score confidence-wise, it’s just a big drive going forward. But the most important thing is the three points. We were struggling a bit, but it’s two wins on the bounce now and hopefully we can continue that momentum going forward.’
The Chelsea supporters who made the short trip across west London to Craven Cottage gave Broja a standing ovation as he left the pitch in the second half and the striker was quick reassure everyone that there was no injury problem behind his substitution after 65 minutes.
‘No injury, just a precaution,’ he confirmed. ‘I’ve been out for a while so it was always hard for me to come back and play the full 90 minutes. I did get a bit leggy just before I came off, so it was just a precaution.’
That is good news with another Premier League away trip in five days, this time against Burnley. Fellow striker Nicolas Jackson will be available again at Turf Moor following his suspension, but Broja is just focused on doing whatever he can to help the team, from the start or from the bench, whoever Mauricio Pochettino picks in his line-up going forward.
‘I’ll help the team as much as possible to score goals. That is my job as a striker, to score goals and to help the team. I’m really thankful that the manager did start me at Fulham and I did get my first goal. I’ll try as much as possible to score more goals and help the team.
‘It’s up to the manager and what he decides going forward. My job is to come in and help the team as much as possible. If he does start me I’ll try to do my best and score goals. If he doesn’t start me then I’ve got to keep my head up, keep working, keep going forward and try to cause a headache for the manager. That’s the same as every player. We’re at Chelsea Football Club, every player’s got to fight for their place in the team.’
As Armando mentioned, the victory at Fulham made it two in a row for the Blues, following the midweek Carabao Cup win over Brighton at Stamford Bridge, and the 22-year-old believes this could be an important step in building a new team under Pochettino this season.
‘He’s a world-class manager, it’s amazing to play for him and to play for this team and this club with the amazing fans that we have. We are gelling as a team. It’s not going to happen overnight, we know that. We were a whole new group in the summer with a whole new system and coaching staff, so it’s important for us to have that time and to keep working together and keep progressing as a team.
‘You saw in this game that we’re starting to gel. It’s amazing for us to get the win, when you win games it brings confidence and positivity. It's a massive boost for us as a team and the football club. We’ve got another game before the international break and we just need to keep going in this way. It’s a massive three points.’