Chelsea’s youth revolution has garnered plenty of headlines and attention, but Fikayo Tomori has flown relatively under the radar, outshined by both Tammy Abraham and Mason Mount. In a way, it’s just like last season in the Loan Army, when the latter duo were in focus and Tomori just went about his business day in and day out. Only when Derby County named him their Player of the Season did we truly clock just what a great season he himself had.
Tammy on Fikayo Tomori's goal:— Sid Celery (@sidcelery) September 15, 2019
"He's been trying it in training every day, smashing windows..."
But one thing Tomori certainly isn’t known for is goalscoring. Yesterday’s goal, his third senior professional strike in nearly 100 appearances for all teams, isn’t likely to change that, wonderful as it may have been.
“Azpi was calling me back to stop the counter-attack, and the ball broke out. I thought ‘why not?’ and thankfully it managed to hit the back of the net. I’m obviously really pleased! In training the past couple of weeks Willy Caballero’s been giving me a bit because I’ve skied a few! I just wanted to concentrate on trying to keep it down and hitting the target.”
The strike may have been impressive, especially in the way the spin on it bamboozled the otherwise excellent Rui Patrício in the Wolves goal, but Tomori’s contribution to Chelsea’s second goal was arguably even better, as he strode forward into the final third Ricardo Carvalho-style, and created the chance that eventually Tammy Abraham finished off for the first of his three on the day.
The five-goal outburst fortunately overshadowed the fact that Chelsea conceded two goals for the third straight game, and have the second worst defensive record in the league, with 11 conceded. Only Norwich City have conceded more. In fact, of the six games played in all competitions so far, only once, in the 1-1 draw against Leicester City, did Chelsea concede fewer than two goals.
But Tomori, who has started the last two games, first in a back-four then in a back-three, is confident that the clean sheets will come.
“Winning games breeds confidence and keeps the team happy. At times we have played well in patches but not managed to see the whole game through. We managed to play better in longer spells.
“We know clean sheets will come. We defended a lot better as a team. We didn’t really concede any sloppy chances. Obviously we are disappointed to have conceded two goals, but we try to think positive, the manager tries to keep us positive in training and off the pitch, in meetings.
“He’s a legend at the club so he has the respect of the players already. His management skills are very good. I had him last year and he’s a very good talker, a very good man-manager, and you can see we want to play for him, want to win games and implement his style of play. We’re working hard day in, day out to try and do that.”
There’s certainly no doubting players’ commitment to the manager and his ideas, even as he himself continues to tweak them and look for solutions. The next chance to get it right is coming up quick, on Tuesday against Valencia in the Champions League. That’s not going to be easy either.
“Any win gives a team confidence. Going into the Champions League it’s nice to have these three points in our back pocket. Hopefully we can produce a similar performance on Tuesday.
“We know what’s coming and hopefully we can produce. Valencia are a top team in Spain and they have a lot of technical players. Ajax we saw last year are a very good team. Lille came second in Ligue 1 and are a very good team. We will have to be on top of our game to progress.”
-Fikayo Tomori; source: Chelsea FC
At just 21, Tomori’s the youngest of Chelsea’s center backs, but he’s quickly rising up the ranks. Antonio Rüdiger’s new injury concern could lead to even more opportunities.