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Chelsea’s defensive problems will all have been worthwhile if Tomori continues amazing progress

Fikayo Tomori smiling in Chelsea Training
Getty Images/ Catherine Ivill

It’s easy to forget that Fiakyo Tomori got his first chance this season coming on as a sub in the European Super Cup against Liverpool. He hasn’t looked back since those first 5 minutes.

In the weeks following our defeat on penalties in Istanbul, our defence showed no signs of improvement, and against Sheffield United at the end of August Frank Lampard gave the defender his second chance, allowing him to play ahead of Andreas Christensen against Sheffield United.

If that first five minutes just got fans used to seeing him on the pitch, the Sheffield game showed a confident player on the ball at Stamford Bridge. He did also make one of his only significant errors so far, missing out on the cross as the Blades scrabbled an equaliser – but despite that he left a promising impression.

Frank Lampard must have felt the same way, because in the next fixture, which saw us go up against Wolves, he switched to a back 3 to match up with our opponent, keeping Tomori in the side.

That system was maintained in midweek against Valencia, before we returned to a 4 against Liverpool on Sunday. With the change from 3 back to 2 central defenders however, it wasn’t the youngster who dropped out. It was Kurt Zouma.

That tells you everything you need to know about the 21 year old’s standing at the club now. While we’ve only won one of the game he’s started for us, his performances have exceeded expectations, and he looks to have installed himself as his manager’s preferred choice once again after starring for him at Derby.

It remains to be seen who partners Antonio Rudiger when he finally makes a return from a pernicious knee problem, but in the meantime we’ve found the perfect replacement in Fikayo. In fact, as well as the dominant speed and strength that his German teammate has, Tomori is perhaps even more comfortable passing and carrying the ball.

It’s been a rocky road for this defence so far, but the rise of Tomori has been a great compensation for the lack of quality so far. If it ends up meaning a chance for a new potential star to emerge, it was well worth it.

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