3 tackles, 9 duels won: Matt Miazga shows his promise on Chelsea debut

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The 20-year-old American centre-back made his first senior start for the club in Saturday's 4-0 victory at Aston Villa.

Chelsea fans finally got to see US international Matt Miazga in action on Saturday afternoon as he made his much-anticipated debut for the club.

The 20-year-old defender originally joined the Blues from the New York Red Bulls in January after enjoying a breakout 2015 season in MLS, but it was not until this weekend’s trip to Premier League bottom-dwellers Aston Villa that he got his first taste of English football.

Nevertheless, despite his lack of experience, the £3.5 million signing gave an excellent account of himself upon being handed a surprise start at centre-back, producing a flawless performance as Guus Hiddink’s side romped to a convincing 4-0 win.

Vs Aston Villa Outfielder BlocksTotal TacklesWon TacklesTotal ClearancesDuels WonHeaders WonInterceptionsTotal PassPass SuccessMins Played
Matt Miazga 1 3 3 5 9 5 1 56 73% 90

Partnering Branislav Ivanovic in the heart of defence, the one-time capped American looked calm and composed throughout the encounter and put up some impressive statistics in the process, recording five clearances, three tackles, three blocks and an interception over the course of the 90 minutes to help preserve the clean sheet.

Furthermore, the former MLS star won a team-leading five aerial duels and nine total duels, while also making two recoveries and completing 41 of his 56 passes – 12 of which were long balls.

Villa predictably did not put up much of a fight on the day, but for someone playing only their first Premier League game after just one full season as a starter in MLS, the 6ft 3in stopper did not look out of place whatsoever.

Interestingly, Miazga’s Chelsea debut came just four days after a disappointing display in the US Under-23s’ 2-1 Olympic qualifying defeat to Colombia, when he was sent off in the closing stages as the States missed out on a trip to Rio 2016.

Despite his potential, the New Jersey native remains a tremendously raw player with just 38 career MLS appearances under his belt, and it is clear that he still needs to put in a lot of work before he can be relied on as a full-time starter at the Premier League level.

Nonetheless, Saturday’s display showed that his future at Stamford Bridge is incredibly bright, and given his rapid progress over the past 12 months, it would not be a huge surprise if he was pushing for regular minutes as soon as next season.

How much more playing time he seems this term remains to be seen, but he certainly passed his first test with flying colours.

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