There have been rumbles for a while that all is not well with Chelsea’s talented young centre-back Andreas Christensen.
The first hints emerged in January when he remarked to ESPN’s Liam Twomey that he was tired, having not played in so many consecutive matches in his entire career. The numbers bear him out.
He has already played in 37 games this season. And that includes a numbing series of weeks in which he played every single game, both midweek and weekend, thanks to David Luiz’s ongoing knee injury. He’s had no downtime whatsoever.
Compare that to his Bundesliga schedule. Last season he played in just 31 league matches for Borussia Monchengladbach and 38 overall. And that was with the benefit of a one-month winter break! The season before that he played even fewer matches, 36. And before that was the much lighter youth-level schedule.
Not long after he mentioned how tired he was, the mistakes starting cropping up. Costly mistakes in Chelsea’s biggest matches of the season. He’d been making small mistakes all season, as you’d expect of a 21 year-old in the Premier League. But the whopper against Barcelona made people sit up and notice. From there the trickle of critical errors became a flood, including at Manchester City.
On Monday, he went on international duty with Denmark, where they planned to try him as a defensive midfielder. By Thursday they’d seen enough and sent him back to Chelsea, never having set foot on the pitch for his national team.
In one way, the reason for it is a bit mysterious, according to manager Åge Hareide.
“I cannot say exactly what is wrong with Christensen, but it is a little fatigue.
”It’s not serious, but it can be. It is a bit frustrating because we would have liked to trial him in both central defence and as a defensive midfielder.”
In other way, the reason for it is blindingly obvious. He’s dead tired and is almost certainly carrying one or more knocks after playing non-stop in a rugged league. He needs time to rest and recuperate.
Hareide could see that, and was merciful.
“Andreas Christensen has been sent home to London.
“We do not want to take any risks with him.”
-Åge Hareide; source: Evening Standard
The good news is that he’ll have a full week before Tottenham. The bad news is that the shelf is bare at centre-back if he can’t go. There have been rumors in the less-savory London papers (click at your peril) that David Luiz is trying to get his balky knee (thanks, Sergio Aguero) ready for Tottenham. But he seems unlikely to play, given his lack of practice time, let alone match time.
17 year-old Ethan Ampadu, who had been a capable substitute in the FA Cup matches, is out for the season with a broken ankle. Which apparently only leaves Gary Cahill, a player in whom Antonio Conte would appear to have lost confidence.
So there’s a lot riding on AC getting some much needed R&R and being healthy and able to carry Chelsea over the finish line of this difficult season. We need him.