Chelsea fans yesterday, let out a huge sigh of relief as they saw their £52m summer signing march onto the home ground to finally make an official appearance for them and welcomed him with a classy gesture.
We are talking about the 26 year old Christopher Nkunku, the much anticipated attacking addition to the Chelsea squad from RB Leipzig.
Unfortunately for him, he is yet to start a competitive game for Chelsea this season due to a serious knee injury he suffered during the final pre-season game for the club.
In the EFL quarter-final fixture vs Newcastle yesterday, the man finally got a few competitive minutes under his belt as he was subbed-in, in the 69th minute among the standing ovation of the Chelsea crowd.
It was an eventful debut and a lucky one for his team as they managed to clear the Newcastle hurdle (4-2 in penalties) and marched into the semis of the Carabao Cup. Fans were ecstatic to see him warm up for the game.
The French forward replaced Nicolas Jackson in a like for like swap and looked lively from the get go. His first half-chance came early enough, from a Malo Gusto cross which sadly he couldn’t convert.
Even earlier, a golden opportunity was missed by the winger Raheem Sterling where he overshot a through ball to the striker, which would have been the perfect introduction for the debutant to show his goal scoring skills.
Armando Broja was also available on the pitch as an attacking option too, so Nkunku was seen drifting wide at times. But as the game progressed he switched to his favorite ‘shadow striker’ position behind Broja and was creating issues for the Newcastle backline.
He has got good physical attributes which he displayed during the game with his hold up plays, especially against Dan Burn and even showed the fans a few glimpses of his skills at work, with his footwork inside the opponent box.
It was a 92nd minute equalizer from Mykhailo Mudryk that took the game to penalties. Nkunku, sure enough, was one of the spot-kick takers. Coming in at number 3, the striker dispatched the penalty with ease towards the left top corner of the nets.
Mauricio Pochettino, the Chelsea coach, wants Nkunku to slowly adapt to the pace of Premier League and recover properly. According to him, these early minutes will be vital for Nkunku.
In the post match interview while remarking about the recovering striker, he said, “the expectation is to see the best Nkunku and we need time for him to perform in the way that we expect. We will not put too much pressure on him day by day, and push him to arrive as soon as possible at his best to try to help the team.”
The striker is poised to start a Premier League game for the club soon and the striker woes of Chelsea might be finally over soon with hungry forward bringing much needed energy and threat to the Chelsea squad.
Cheslea team has been lacking the spark for goal-scoring for a while now and see themselves sitting at the 10th place in the Premier League table.
They had just lost to Newcastle in the Premier league last month with a disappointing 4-1 scoreline so coming into this match, Newcastle were clearly the favorites.
Chelsea as a club has been injury laden this season and Nkunku returning has been a huge boost to them. He has missed 19 competitive games for Chelsea already.
Christopher Nkunku himself, has a long history of being injury prone, even during his Leipzig time. Before this latest 16-week long injury sidelining, he had faced other big set backs like a knee ligament injury and a torn muscle fiber when he was playing for Leipzig and the French national team.
Hopefully, he is back for good and starts striking for his club soon. Let us see how the story develops.