Three clearances, seven duels - Chelsea wonderkid starring for Middlesbrough

Kenneth Omeruo once again displayed his talents as Middlesbrough kept a clean sheet at Cardiff City.

The 20-year-old excelled during a short-term loan spell at the Riverside Stadium last season, making 14 appearances as Boro found some stability under current head coach Aitor Karanka.

Despite having yet to make a first-team appearance for Chelsea, the youngster agreed a new three-year deal at Stamford Bridge this summer, prior to joining up with the Nigeria squad for the World Cup.

The central defender won four of his 17 caps in Brazil, impressing in tough ties with Argentina and France, and going toe-to-toe with the world's best stars.

A place in the Chelsea first-team looked like his for the taking, but, having agreed to the extended contract, he moved away from West London again, rejoining Boro for the duration of the 2014/15 season.

He has featured six times this season, starting five games and coming on as a second minute substitute in the other, and has once again been drawing plaudits from all corners of the media.

He was arguably Boro’s best player on Tuesday, as their journey to Cardiff was rewarded with a 1-0 victory, with the young Nigerian vital to Boro claiming their second clean sheet of the Championship season.

  PositionMatchSuccessful BlocksError Leading To ShotDuels WonEffective ClearancesSuccessful InterceptionsFouls Committed
Kenneth Omeruo DF Cardiff vs Middlesbrough 2 0 7 3 3 0

As can be seen, Omeruo dominated the defensive play, winning seven duels, three interceptions and three clearances, as well successfully blocking two shots. However, not only did he play with defensive aptitude, he shows a maturity beyond his 20-years with his composure. Despite playing the full 90 minutes, he failed to commit an error than led to a shot - of which Cardiff had 13 - and didn’t commit a single one of the 14 fouls that his teammates did.

His performance of Tuesday night was undoubtedly his best of the season, although that goes to undersell how good his whole season has been.

  AppearancesGames WonSuccessful Blocks per gameError Leading to Shot per gameDuels Won per gameEffective Clearances per gameSuccessful Interceptions per gamFouls Committed per gameMins Played
Omeruo 6 3 0.5 0 7.2 4.7 2.7 1 536

While he has committed less blocks per game on average than he did against Cardiff, the rest of his numbers are remarkably similar. He regularly makes at least 13 defensive actions per game, and, as he did against the Bluebirds, has yet to commit an error that has led to an opposition shot. However, he does frequently commit one foul per game, but that is way below the Boro average, with the entire team averaging 11 for every fixture.

One would think that, if Omeruo continues to perform in such an impressive manner, a route into the Chelsea first-team should be guaranteed. However, it has been shown before that the Blues are willing to let even the most talented youngsters go. But, with John Terry set for a slow departure from consistent playing action, the vacant central defensive spot could be Omeruo’s before too long.

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