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Noni Maduke… hopes for a bright future with Chelsea

The final whistle went to Villa Park and Noni Maduke could not contain his anger.

Chelsea were denied a late winner after VAR asked referee Craig Basson to go to the monitor and review Benoit Badiasile's tackle on Diego Carlos ahead of Axel Tsasi's headed goal. Pawson ruled it out, despite having a perfect view during live play and deciding not to take action at the time.

Maduke's frustration was evident when he approached Pawson at the end of the 2-2 draw and hurled some angry words at the match referee. He received a yellow card and his teammates and assistant coach, Jesus Perez, had to remove him to avoid further penalties.

This is an incident that most coaches frown upon. It was ineffective and arguably unprofessional. But this could be a positive thing for Maduke. Perhaps now, Chelsea supporters will shrug off the idea that he doesn't care.

A week ago, Maduke's behavior following the FA Cup semi-final defeat to Manchester City caught the attention of fans. Videos of Maduke laughing and joking with Manchester City player Jack Grealish at Wembley Stadium are going viral on social media. On the other hand, veteran Chelsea defender Thiago Silva was seen in tears up front.

Maduke defies referee after clash between Chelsea and Aston Villa (Reuters)

There was a difference between Thiago Silva's sad reaction and Maduke's inexcusable reaction. It came shortly after he argued with Nicholas Jackson and regular penalty taker Cole Palmer over who would take the penalty during the 6-0 win over Everton, prompting calls for him to be sold.

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Left-back Mark Cugurella certainly feels what happened at Wembley gave people the wrong impression. He told The Athletic: “It was out of context. A lot of players have different personalities and of course, Noni is not happy because he always wants to win. He wants to win every match in training and shows it in every move.

He added: “I understand why the fans weren't happy because we lost, maybe he showed he was happy.” But he certainly wasn't happy. “We know him.”

And against Aston Villa, the 21-year-old got Chelsea back into the game – a stunning left-footed effort – but his continued runs down the right caused most of Villa's problems. Villars left-back Lucas Digne is unsure whether he wants to move to the winger flank or enter the penalty area any time soon.

It was Maduke's fifth start in a row and his best run at the club since joining from PSV Eindhoven for €33m (£28.3m, $35.3m) in January last year. There were three alternate appearances before that, making a total of eight consecutive appearances. In one of his games against Manchester United, he helped turn a 3–2 deficit into a 4–3 scoreline when he won a penalty, a brilliant dribble into the area after deceiving Diogo Dalot with a clumsy challenge. It took a lot of hope for coach Mauricio Pochettino, but he started to trust him too much.

Gugurella has no doubts about the ability of the England Under-21 internationals.

Asked if his performance against Villa showed Chelsea have a lot to offer, he replied: “Yes, of course. He is a really good player. He is my favorite player. He's good one-on-one and he can do that. He scored a lot of goals and he needs to survive. He works well and can help the team in this way. “He helps the team, but he has to be at this level.”

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Mark Gugurella often defended Maduke (Ketti).

Maduke is not the only Chelsea player struggling for consistency and popularity. In some ways, he has a similar situation to Jackson. He has the talent to shine one minute and fade away the next.

Seven goals and two assists from 29 games this season, sharing a goal in every four games is respectable. This figure looks even better when you take into account the number of minutes he has played on the pitch this season (1,234), which means a goal contribution every 137 minutes.

Defensively his work rate definitely needs to improve. Trevuh Chalobah became Chelsea's latest right-back, often isolated by Maduke as the winger failed to get back.

If Madueke doesn't want to succeed at Chelsea, he won't be using his spare time to work on his game with personal skills coach Saul Isaacson-Hurst. His commitment to improvement is clear.

Former Chelsea and England coach Glenn Hoddle watched his display against Aston Villa while covering the match for TNT Sport. “I thought it was great,” Hoddle said. In the second half, the full-back was alert. If I were the coach, I would say to him: You have shown us what you can do, and you can do it again and again.

When Madueke plays against his former club Tottenham at Stamford Bridge on Thursday, the Chelsea fans want to beat more than anyone, he will be treated very well.

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