Noni Madueke keeps impressing Mauricio Pochettino as he tries to address Chelsea’s issue
Noni Madueke has endured a difficult season thus far for Chelsea. The winger has made just one Premier League start for the Blues and his only goal contribution came from the penalty spot against AFC Wimbledon in the Carabao Cup.
Of course the impressive form of Raheem Sterling and Cole Palmer has made finding a place in Mauricio Pochettino’s starting lineup difficult. Mykhailo Mudryk’s presence in the squad certainly makes things no easier either.
However, while Chelsea have only afforded Madueke 200 minutes this term, his form has not dipped for England under-21s. In three games across September and October, Madueke delivered three goals and an assist against Luxembourg, Serbia and Ukraine.
football.london takes a look at how Madueke got on against Serbia for England’s under-21s on Saturday evening.
Started the match positioned high on the right wing and was happy to help the Three Lions retain possession by dropping the ball off to Harvey Elliott before showing quality close control in the build up to England’s opening goal by James McAtee, to cut inside in an attempt to find room against a deep-lying Serbia side.
It appeared in the early stages that Madueke and Tino Livramento were still learning each other’s positioning as both wanted to stay wide but the 10th minute saw the former drop the ball off to is teammate before cutting inside.
Chelsea’s winger was happy to bring the ball inside once collecting it and was unfortunate to see Liam Delap head wide from a threatening left-footed cross. Madueke showed different facets to his threat when he drew the attention of three players soon after as he dribbled down the right but was snuffed out. Did isolate his opposite number as the quarter of an hour mark closed but couldn’t connect cleanly with his cross to take advantage.
The former PSV star provided a similar threat in the next period but would be disappointed with his first delivery of the period before later recovering from a poor first touch to earn space out wide and providing a better cross. He also swapped wings with Jaden Philogene for the first time
Madueke established himself as an outlet for England as the Three Lions attempted to find space and there looked to be some plan for the former Spurs youth product to cut back on his left foot to cross. The end of the half continued to show the diversity of Madueke’s threat as he drove into the right side of the box and pulled back for Livramento who was unable to finish.
The youngster also showed he was defensively responsible in a rare Serbia attack and tracked back to double-team Stefan Mitrovic to help win the ball back.
His defensive qualities were again on show early in the second period as he again sprinted back to cover Mitrovic and soon found himself collecting the ball from deeper positions more frequently too. A well-timed interception saw Madueke progress up the pitch into the opposition half before dropping the ball off.
His awareness came to the fore too as a flicked backwards a high and looping crossfield pass to find Livramento on the wing and having cut inside soon after and navigated the Serbia defence with some clever footwork, managed to pick up a slot when he fed Harvey Elliott to finish from range, to provide England with a 3-0 lead.
With the game tied up, Madueke’s confidence grew in this period as he opened up his repertoire of turns to give Mitrovic a torrid time.
A spate of substitutes during this period saw a slight disconnect for England and Madueke’s teammates struggled to find him in the final third, as he looked to make some incisive runs. When he did find some room he was able to collect the ball, he was unafraid to inject pace into the game and in the 87th minute, produced a clever touch to receive the ball in a deep position and drove through the centre of the pitch before playing a good pass to Jay Stansfield.
Moving into stoppage time, Madueke looked to cut inside for a strike from distance but could only fire wide. Looked desperate to provide another impact and collected the ball on the left side of the box and beat his man but his pass across the goal was snuffed out.
It was not a spellbinding performance from Madueke but the youth international provided plenty of consistency down the right flank having not played much competitive football in the last month. A combination of his work-rate on both side’s of the ball and willingness to create something will be seen as a positive, but probably not yet enough for Pochettino to displace a member of his starting XI.
There were positive signs there for what Madueke could contribute against a deep defence, but the quality of the opposition means that not too many meaningful takeaways can be made. The 21-year-old got some important minutes to add to his match fitness however and ensured he was able to impact the game. Madueke will have an opportunity to continue his form against Northern Ireland and to head back to Cobham in good spirits.