We continue our look at how the season was panning out for each of our players before lockdown by focusing on Fikayo Tomori.
The defender is enjoying his first season in the Chelsea senior squad having been at the club since the Under-8 age level…
Fikayo Tomori: 22 appearances (one as a sub), two goals, one assist, six clean sheets
‘He’s come a long way and it’s all his own doing because from the moment he came to Derby he showed a work ethic and a desire to listen and improve himself. There were big question marks over him in the summer whether he could do it in the Premier League. He certainly hasn’t proved that yet over a period of time but from my point of view, I have full trust in him and I think he’s done really well.’
Fikayo Tomori had already had two Championship loans when he headed to Derby County in the summer of 2018 to link up with a man he greatly admired while growing up in the Chelsea Academy: Frank Lampard.
‘When Derby first called me and said they wanted to take me on loan, the first thing I thought about was the gaffer,’ Tomori told this website in an interview towards the end of his time at Pride Park, shortly after he was named the Rams Player of the Year.
It was worthy recognition for a superb campaign in the East Midlands, during which Tomori came on leaps and bounds. That Lampard then took over at Chelsea clearly increased his chances of breaking through here, but he had earned the right to prove himself at the highest level.
Deserved full debut
For the opening four games of this season, Andreas Christensen and Kurt Zouma were Lampard’s centre-backs of choice, but the boss explained after Tomori’s full Chelsea debut, in the fifth against Sheffield United, that ‘he trained so well over a period of time he deserved to play.’
Tomori impressed, and then maintained such a high level of performance he started our next 10 league fixtures, as well as the first four Champions League Group H matches we contested. It was proof of how quickly he settled into life at the top table, showcasing his strengths - speed, timing, passing - with regularity. His individual highlight in that period was the stunning long-ranger that kickstarted our big win at Wolves; it will unquestionably be a Goal of the Season contender.
The 22-year-old also had the satisfaction of setting up his good friend Tammy Abraham’s first Champions League strike, away to Lille, and he earned plenty of plaudits for his showing in our next European game on the road, as we battled hard to keep a clean sheet against a potent Ajax outfit.
Tomori's England debut and new contract
In November, Tomori made his England debut in a European Championships qualifying victory away to Kosovo, a month after his first call-up. It marked a significant step forward for the man who was born in Calgary, Canada, but represented England at youth level with great success. Another followed in December when he signed a new, five-year contract.
Read Tomori's new contract interview: on familiar faces, young team-mates and future targets
Further standout performances of Tomori’s this season have been at home to Liverpool, when many saw him in a Chelsea shirt for the first time, and away to Spurs before Christmas. Cutting out lapses in concentration, like one in Lille when Kepa bailed him out, has been an area of Tomori’s game Lampard has identified as having room for improvement.
2020 has brought a sustained period either on the bench or not in the matchday squad for Tomori, with the other three centre-backs largely preferred to him in what is a competitive part of the pitch. ‘It’s been more of a selection issue for me and that’s just how it’s gone,’ explained Lampard when questioned why Tomori didn’t play a league game until the end of February.
He did however appear in Cup wins over Nottingham Forest and Hull before then, scoring a header in the latter game at one of his former loan clubs. He will now seek to force his way back into the side when the action resumes, and build on a very promising first full campaign.
Fikayo Tomori's 2019/20 Premier League stats
Their season so far: Marcos Alonso
Their season so far: Kepa
Their season so far: Kurt Zouma
Fikayo Tomori stats
Fikayo Tomori Premier League appearances 2019/20
Fikayo Tomori has played 15 times in the Premier League for Chelsea this season, all as a starter.
Fikayo Tomori Champions League appearances 2019/20
Fikayo Tomori has played four Champions League games this season, his first appearances in the competition. He also played in the Super Cup.
Fikayo Tomori FA Cup appearances 2019/20
Fikayo Tomori has played in two of our three FA Cup ties this season, scoring at Hull.
Fikayo Tomori League Cup appearances 2019/20
Fikayo Tomori did not play in the League Cup this season.
Fikayo Tomori goals 2019/20
Fikayo Tomori has scored two goals for Chelsea this season, an incredible strike from distance at Wolves, and then a header in our FA Cup win at Hull.