Antonio Conte opted to start Ruben Loftus-Cheek against Peterborough in the FA Cup third round, and the academy product was buzzing all through the game. He showed us a different version of himself that we haven’t seen before, and if one was watching Chelsea for the first time, it’ll be difficult for that person to believe that the young midfielder isn’t a starter for Chelsea.
Loftus-Cheek has the talent, and has been touted as the next big thing to come out from the Chelsea academy, but then, his transition to the first team hasn’t been smooth sailing.
Prior to Sunday’s FA Cup clash against Peterborough, one thing Loftus-Cheek lacked in his game was work rate. But against Peterborough, we saw a different Loftus-Cheek; he was energetic and worked hard for the team, and there was this obvious burning desire in him to give his all — and it’s that lack of desire (despite his quality) that has made it difficult for him to break into the first team, rather Nathaniel Chalobah has even reached greater heights than his fellow academy product.
Also, we know Loftus-Cheek has the build of a giant and should be someone that’ll be difficult to take the ball from, but his previous displays weren’t convincing enough. However, against Peterborough, we saw the youngster playing like Yaya Toure of Manchester City and Mousa Dembele of Tottenham. His ball protection and retention was worthy of praise, and the manner he dribbled past the opposition players was just amazing.
His decision making has also improved greatly. Sometimes, knowing when to take a shot, pass to a teammate and dribble an opponent are what separates world-class players from the rest, and judging from the game against Peterborough, Loftus-Cheek has improved in that aspect.
The youngster enjoyed his game against Peterborough, and he has been garnering praise since then, and rumours also have it that he might not be leaving on loan again.