Conor Gallagher embodied Chelsea’s spirit in the 4-4 tie with Manchester City last Sunday.
Midfielder played with great energy and passion, being a vital player out of possession. He also assisted his team’s goal by delivering a perfectly executed corner.
Gallagher has now established himself as a starter in Mauricio pochettino’s XI following a run of good form.
We examine whether Gareth Southgate can achieve the same feat for England before their match with Malta.
It is not surprising that Pochettino made Gallagher the star of his revamped Chelsea team.
This 23-year old is the exact type of young, effervescent footballer that flourished at Tottenham under the Argentine.
Gallagher’s contributions for the Blues during this season are reflected by the statistics.
The Premier League’s top player has more possessions (20) in the offensive third, demonstrating the ability to push from the front.
The quality of his play on the ball is also impressive. He leads the squad with four assists, and has created 19 opportunities.
Chelsea’s no23 also has more tackles (34), interceptions (19) and completed passes in the final third of the field than his teammates.
Surrey’s native son is a worthy starter in the XI and has made great strides since his debut last year.
Stand by me
Gallagher’s emergence as a regular for Chelsea is made all the more impressive by the club’s recent transfer business.
Midfielders Enzo Fernandez and Moises Caicedo were both signed for upwards of PS100million, while Romeo Lavia joined from Southampton in the summer.
But Gallagher has so far fought off the stiff competition for places, which bodes well for his prospects on the international stage too.
In a recent interview with the Guardian, he said: “Going into games half-expecting to be starting is a good feeling. I am mentally more relaxed and ready to perform.
“Last season it was not really knowing if I was starting or not, not really sure what was going on, what team we were going for, because of the number of players we have.
“Coming here [on international duty] I feel more relaxed, more into the squad. Hopefully I can play more for England and be a bigger part of the squad.”
Whether Gallagher will fit into Southgate’s system as well as he does in Pochettino’s remains to be seen.
The former Crystal Palace and West Brom loanee is still relatively new to the England setup, with just 10 caps to his name since his debut in 2021.
He did not play a minute of the Three Lions’ run to the World Cup quarter-finals in Qatar last year — but his sights will be firmly set on featuring at next summer’s European Championship in Germany.
As things stand, he is well placed to do exactly that.