Andreas Christensen caused a bit of a (not unexpected) stir during the last international break by declaring his unhappiness at going from Conte’s first-choice for most of last season to Sarri’s fourth-choice for most of this season.
And while that has still meant a match about once a week over the past two months as Sarri has been sticking to his regimented rotation schedule, the 22-year-old is still lamenting the minutes (and the types of minutes, I guess?) available to him.
“[Do I see my future away from Stamford Bridge?] Difficult question. No, I don’t think so.
”Things are different from last season. I played a lot of games [last season] but this season it hasn’t been like that. It’s always difficult for a player but we’ll see what happens.”
Even if we ignore the quality of Christensen’s performances — another thing that’s unmistakably different from last season — his continuing complaints stand in stark contrast with his actual opportunities.
Thanks to the aforementioned rotation policy, since Chelsea’s League Cup and Europa League campaigns got underway in mid-September, the four central defenders have received practically equal playing time. Sure, none of Christensen’s 500 minutes have come in the Premier League, but he’s played every minute of our Europa League group stage games, and the majority of the minutes in the two rounds of the League Cup we’ve contested so far. In that same time-frame, Gary Cahill collected 470 minutes, while David Luiz and Antonio Rüdiger are ahead by only about 200 minutes (670 and 700, respectively) thanks to their solid partnership in the Premier League and the occasional midweek cameo.
They would all probably love to play every minute of every game, but Sarri’s policy has kept Chelsea unbeaten and in decent health, so there is some method to that madness. And it’s given both Christensen and Cahill plenty of opportunities to impress, which they don’t seem to have taken too convincingly, if at all.
“If you asked every player that’s not playing if they’re happy, they’re going to say no. I can’t do anything else but go back there, train and do my best. Every time I get that opportunity, I have to do well and show him that he can count on me.
”You don’t want to sit around and wait for it. You want to play straight away and that’s why we all play football. Not playing is not fun. It’s a different situation to last season.”
-Andreas Christensen; source: Sky
In fairness, at least Christensen — unlike his dear old father — isn’t threatening to quit in January. But he has at least three guaranteed games coming up (two Europa League and the League Cup quarterfinal), and perhaps even more as the Premier League schedule becomes extra-congested as well. If he is as good as he seems to think he is, surely he will manage to use one of these opportunities to make a statement of intent on the pitch as well, not just off of it.