Victor Moses always had talent, but his transformation to table-topping wing-back will have caught a few former team-mates by surprise. Moses scored the winning goal as Chelsea defeated Tottenham, once again, at Stamford Bridge on Saturday. This was his seventh successive Premier League match and he was finally able to state afterwards: "I feel like I have found a home here. It's my club.”
Moses joined Chelsea in August 2012, for £9m from Wigan, and under Roberto Di Matteo and Rafael Benitez actually played 43 matches that season, including more than 25 starts. This was despite disappearing mid-season to win the African Cup of Nations with Nigeria.
Then Jose Mourinho returned and, as is his wont, quickly decided Moses was not his kind of player. The winger was swiftly banished on loan, to Liverpool, then Stoke, then West Ham. He had a season at each, but never seemed to settle. This pre-season, however, new manager Antonio Conte saw enough to retain Moses at Stamford Bridge. He gave him a series of substitute outings in the league, and starts in the EFL Cup. Then came Conte’s reshaping of Chelsea to 3-4-3 and Moses’ unexpected deployment at right wing-back. As an attacking counterpoint to the more defensively-minded Marcos Alonso on the other flank, Moses has been reborn.
Conte must have rare perception, for few other managers would have trusted Moses in a position with such defensive responsibilities. Seven years ago I was privileged to spend an evening on the Crystal Palace bench during a Football League Cup tie against Manchester City. Victor Moses was then a young player of potential, a few months shy of his 19th birthday. He had tricks, he had pace, he had desire; but time and again, as he either lost possession or was out of position, the old lags on the subs’ bench beside me would shake their heads.
Moses, however, is a determined man who has forged a career at the highest level despite a traumatising childhood in which both parents were murdered in a religious riot in Nigeria. Smuggled to England as an 11-year-old asylum seeker his football ability was the making of him, earning him a scholarship to a prestigious public school and a contract with Palace. He has been prepared to learn, graft, and wait his chance
Chelsea vs Tottenham player ratings
Chelsea vs Tottenham player ratings
1/22 Thibaut Courtois - 6 out of 10
Barely had anything to do all game, nothing he could do about Tottenham’s goal.
2/22 Cesar Azpilicueta - 6 out of 10
In the end had a fairly quiet game as Tottenham faded and wasn’t overly tested.
3/22 David Luiz - 6 out of 10
Made a mistake in the build up to Spurs’ goal, but got better as the game went on.
4/22 Gary Cahill - 6 out of 10
Ultimately had a fairly easy ride as Tottenham failed to really test Chelsea despite their good first half.
5/22 Victor Moses - 8 out of 10
Subbed with 10 minutes to go, was at the heart of Chelsea’s revival, his great season continues. Took his goal well.
6/22 Marcos Alonso - 6 out of 10
The quieter of Chelsea’s wing backs, but was more influential after Chelsea’s disastrous start to the game.
7/22 N'Golo Kante - 7 out of 10
Outplayed in the first half but his influence grew as Chelsea seized control of proceedings as the game wore on.
8/22 Nemanja Matic - 7 out of 10
Played in Pedro with a great assist for the first goal and had more and more influence as the game went on.
9/22 Pedro - 7 out of 10
Took his equalising goal brilliantly and was a constant menace to the Spurs defence helped lead Chelsea’s revival.
10/22 Eden Hazard - 7 out of 10
Subbed with quarter of an hour to play, not at his influential best particularly in the first half, but improved as game went on.
11/22 Diego Costa - 7 out of 10
Didn’t score but provided a great assist for Moses’ goal, running threateningly at the Tottenham defence.
12/22 Hugo Lloris - 6 out of 10
Hardly tested and couldn’t do much about either goal, but still conceded two.
13/22 Kyle Walker - 6 out of 10
Pacy as ever, but didn’t influence things as much as his manager would have liked.
14/22 Kevin Wimmer - 5 out of 10
Playing out of position and quite often looked a bit exposed.
15/22 Eric Dier - 6 out of 10
Like many of his teammates started well but faded as the game wore on.
16/22 Jan Vertonghen - 6 out of 10
Stifled Chelsea for most of the first half, but ultimately unable to prevent the Blues’ revival.
17/22 Victor Wanyama - 6 out of 10
Outplayed his more celebrated opposite numbers in the first half, but ultimately was powerless to prevent Chelsea coming back into the game.
18/22 Mousa Dembele - 6 out of 10
Good first half, but increasingly anonymous as the game wore on.
19/22 Christian Eriksen - 6 out of 10
Great strike to give Tottenham the lead, but otherwise didn’t influence things much.
20/22 Dele Alli - 6 out of 10
A quiet game overall and never really threatened the Chelsea defence other than the occasional flash.
21/22 Heung Min-Son - 6 out of 10
Subbed with half an hour to go. Fairly quiet game, didn’t manage to have much influence. Spurs really miss Eric Lamela.
22/22 Harry Kane - 6 out of 10
Well marshalled by the Chelsea defence, had a goal correctly ruled out for offside.
Now it has come. There have been some unexpected diversions on the journey, but Moses at last has the opportunity to show his talent. “I'm pleased the manager has given me a chance to express myself,” he said.
He is, though, still learning the role and can expect the better opponents to examine that education. On Saturday Moses was aided by the suspension that ruled out Danny Rose, whose attacking forays from left-back may have tested his defensive abilities. With space to attack he was instrumental as Chelsea rallied to win after a chastening first 40 minutes in which Spurs were manifestly superior. Next Saturday another test awaits against a Manchester City team with pace and penetration on the flanks. Moses, though, will not shirk the challenge.