It may have taken Chelsea seven league games, but they finally kept a clean sheet in Saturday’s 2-0 win over Brighton and Hove Albion. The Blues’ performance was effectively perfect during the game, but that all started from the dominant showings of centre-backs Fikayo Tomori and Andreas Christensen. They may be one of the youngest pairings in the Premier League, but they’re already on the way to becoming one of the division’s finest.
On a closer look, 21-year-old Fikayo Tomori has been particularly impressive and by all standards should be more of a Chelsea starter over the course of the season.
Many people might have raised an eyebrow when Chelsea sold David Luiz to London rivals Arsenal on transfer deadline day.
Luiz made the move to Chelsea’s rivals in a shock move, which meant that the Blues kept Fikayo Tomori instead of loaning him out to Everton.
And that decision has certainly proved to be the right one.
Tomori started the season on the bench, however his wonder-goal against Wolves and his performances at centre-back, especially against Liverpool, have made him a certain starter.
Lampard and the 21-year-old have history together as Tomori played under Lampard at Derby and won the club’s Player of the Year award after an excellent loan spell in the Championship.
Chelsea have struggled with injuries in the centre-back position, with Antonio Rudiger only completing 45 minutes this season and Andreas Christensen going off against Liverpool.
But Tomori is now set to be a constant and Lampard’s comments about the youngster confirm that he is now the ‘number one or two’ centre-back in the club.
“I know Arsenal have for a long time played young players in certain competitions. I think Man United are doing that,” Lampard said to BBC’s MOTD.
“It is wise if you can do it to give them minutes in certain games. The Carabao Cup has been a good opportunity at times. I only want to speak for ourselves.
“Tammy Abraham has competition from [Olivier] Giroud and [Michy] Batshuayi. Mason Mount has competition from [Mateo] Kovacic, [Ross] Barkley and N’Golo Kante. Jorginho, if you count him in that area.
“Fikayo Tomori, a lot of people would have seen him as the number four, is one or two as it stands. I picked them ahead of some senior players.”
The 21-year-old has taken his chance and has rightly earned the trust of his manager in the process. He might have seen his progression go faster as a result of “underperformers” and injuries but the fact remains that he’s looking indispensable at the moment.
This is not just a feeling that Tomori is becoming a key player, as even numbers prove it.
Fikayo Tomori vs. Brighton:
• 100 touches (most)
• 90 passes (most)
• 90% pass accuracy
This Premier League business is easy. pic.twitter.com/9QllleNyWL
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) September 28, 2019
Against Brighton, Tomori was completely dominant. The Nigerian-born was always in the right positions to subdue the Seagulls’ counter-attacks, and he showed electric pace to ensure Brighton had no chance of finding a way past him.
At this rate, he should definitely be the starter alongside Rudiger and further statistics back it up as well.
On the front side, the 21-year-old has a goal to show for and his 3.5 long balls per game once again supersedes that of Christensen at 0.8 per game, easily fitting the bill for a passer from the back – a void left by the departure of David Luiz.
Tomori and Christensen have both been brilliant so far but if anyone would be getting the axe for Rudiger eventually, then it should be Christensen – at least based on performances.
The pair have done this all at such a young age. Christensen is 23 and Tomori is only 21, but they are playing like seasoned veterans.
For Lampard, this must be his first-choice pairing for the future. But the lack of “experience” in both at the moment will mean Rudiger will have to partner alongside one of them (once he returns to the side) and that person is looking like Fikayo Tomori at the moment.
This season, all the talk has been about how Chelsea’s youngsters would cope in the Premier League, or how they would manage with the loss of David Luiz. What we’ve seen is that Chelsea already have their David Luz replacement and even better it didn’t cost a lot of money and resources to unearth him.