As we edge ever closer to Chelsea’s return to Premier League action, our detailed 2019/20 individual player review series continues with Andreas Christensen.
The competition for places at centre-back is as fierce as anywhere in the team, with Christensen, Antonio Rudiger, Fikayo Tomori and Kurt Zouma all vying for two spots in the side for the majority of games. Even when using a back three Cesar Azpilicueta has often taken one of the central positions.
That means, in common with the rest of the defenders in the squad, the Dane has enjoyed long runs in the team, interspersed with spells on the bench while others are given their chance.
However, he has looked calm and collected when called upon, with Christensen and Rudiger showing signs of becoming Frank Lampard’s preferred pairing before football was halted in March.
Andreas Christensen: 20 appearances
‘I like Andreas as a player, I used to train with him and saw the talent coming through and I want him to be the best that he can be. You see the height, the athleticism and the quality on the ball, particularly his choice of pass, and I want him to be all the things he can be.’
Lampard made it clear he was an admirer of Christensen’s ability as he dismissed rumours the defender could move on loan in January, and that has also been made shown by the way our head coach has relied far more heavily on the Denmark international, especially in the Premier League, than his predecessor Maurizio Sarri did last season.
Patience pays off
Whether it was in a back four or a defensive trio, Christensen was almost an ever present at the beginning of the season, starting all but one of our Premier League and European fixtures during the first two months. It was certainly an impressive start to the campaign after having to bide his time on the fringes of the team in 2018/19.
‘It’s been a long time since I played three games in a row,’ he said at the end of August. ‘For me personally it’s been a good start and I’m feeling more and more comfortable.’
There was certainly an impression of Christensen and Zouma’s partnership growing in the early stages, with Rudiger ruled out with a persistent injury which effectively kept him out of contention until December.
Even when Tomori started to come into the frame, it was initially the Dane who appeared to be the first choice alongside one or both of the other centre-backs at Lampard’s disposal, depending on the system.
Although we had to wait until the end of September to keep our first clean sheet, against Brighton, we had been giving few chances away to our opponents and Christensen was fast developing into an assured and calming presence in our defence.
Unfortunately, as can happen in professional football, injury hit Christensen’s season at the worst possible time. After growing in confidence game by game, he missed a month of the action and by the time he returned in November, it was Zouma and Tomori who were developing a promising partnership in our defence, meaning it was our number four’s turn to miss out.
He did return to the starting line-up for three games as we moved into December, including that performance against Aston Villa which so impressed his boss, but when Rudiger made his own comeback from injury shortly afterwards, Zouma’s form meant that it was initially the Frenchman who kept his place.
Christensen needed to be patient on the bench again, but it wasn’t a situation he let faze him.
Playing through the pain
At the start of January, Christensen was given a chance to show he deserved to be starting more regularly, when we faced Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup third round. He wasn’t going to let the opportunity pass him by.
An excellent performance in that victory saw him reinstated beside Rudiger and between that match against Forest and the start of March, the only Premier League minutes he missed were when he was forced to leave the pitch against Manchester United after suffering a broken nose.
Even that couldn’t stop him, though, as he was back in the line-up wearing a protective mask for our very next game, a memorable London derby win over Tottenham five days later.
‘The nose is good, it’s as comfortable as it can be when wearing the mask,’ he said after the Spurs game. ‘I’m just glad I was able to play and do my part for the team.’
However, a dip in form saw us concede five times across our next two matches, against Bayern Munich and Bournemouth, and it was Zouma who was Rudiger’s chosen partner for the last couple of games before the season was halted.
Andreas Christensen Premier League stats 2019/20
Andreas Christensen stats
Andreas Christensen Premier League appearances 2019/20
Christensen has played 15 games in the Premier League for Chelsea this season, all of them from the start.
Andreas Christensen Champions League appearances 2019/20
Christensen has featured in three of our Champions League games this season.
Andreas Christensen FA Cup appearances 2019/20
Christensen has played once in the FA Cup this season, against Nottingham Forest in the third round.
Andreas Christensen League Cup appearances 2019/20
Christensen did not feature in our Carabao Cup campaign.
Andreas Christensen goals 2019/20
Christensen has not yet scored for Chelsea this season.
Click here to read the other editions of our Season So Far player review series.