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Andreas Christensen vs. West Brom: Danish for ‘clean sheet’

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The 21-year-old has become Chelsea’s most important defender this season.

Chelsea v West Bromwich Albion - Premier League Photo by Adam Fradgley - AMA/WBA FC via Getty Images

After Monday night’s 3-0 win over West Brom, Chelsea have not conceded a goal in the Premier League with Andreas Christensen on the pitch in the last 217 minutes. In fact, of the 23 goals Chelsea have conceded this season, barely over half (12) have come with Christensen on the pitch (and a quarter of those 12 came in the opening day disaster against Burnley). That’s cherry-picking stats a little bit, but with Chelsea conceding no fewer than 7 goals in 152 minutes over the past two weeks without Christensen in the middle of the defensive trio, it is probably somewhat significant.

Given the margin of victory on Monday, Antonio Conte was able to withdraw Christensen for the final quarter of an hour and ensure that the 21-year-old heals up properly from his recent hamstring injury. He may be the youngest first-team regular, but already one of the most important.

“We are talking about a player who is only 21 years old. But he is showing great maturity, great calm, great personality. He has to continue in this way. He has performed very well since the start of the season.”

As good as Christensen has been, especially with David Luiz trending hard the other way, the best part of his emergence (planned or circumstantial, that doesn’t really matter now) is just how much room he still has for improvement.

“He needs to improve: Defensively he’s very well. He needs to improve with the ball, to find more the solutions with the ball. He has the right personality, the right potentiality to do this. But we are talking about a player who is only 21 years old. For us, for me, he has a brilliant future.”

-Antonio Conte; source: Football.London

For now, we can take the loss of David Luiz-esque passing to gain non-David Luiz-esque defending, that’s for sure. Christensen surely has a long and prosperous career ahead of him, hopefully at Chelsea, and hopefully developing right along the lines everyone’s expecting of him. He is the best evidence that Chelsea’s player development and loan army methods do work given the right combination of talent, opportunity, and circumstance, and that’s something we need to build on, both for him personally and for other highly promising players in the system.

Earlier in the weekend, Christensen was even nominated for Young Player of the Year at the annual London Football Awards.