test

Welcome to Talk Chelsea

Register now to gain access to all of our features. Once registered and logged in, you will be able to contribute to this site by submitting your own content or replying to existing content. You'll be able to customize your profile, receive reputation points as a reward for submitting content, while also communicating with other members via your own private inbox, plus much more! This message will be removed once you have signed in.

Jason

15. Kurt Zouma

Started by Jason,

2,068 posts in this topic
11 hours ago, Jason said:

It's ironic you quoted that when, as pointed out by Nikki, Lampard proceeded to sign a few not-quite-tall players. 

Did I say height is not important at all? It is important and it is important to have some tall players in the squad but it is not the be-all and end-all. A player can be tall but if he's shit physically, then there is no point. Equally, a player can be short (and I don't mean super short) but if he has great leap and/or is strong physically, then he can be useful.

Moreover and again, am not saying height is not important, but I feel like the height factor mentioned by Lampard was just an excuse used by him to cover up for his poor set piece defending organization. Remember Azpi marking Soucek (IIRC) while Abraham was guarding the post for the first goal in the loss to West Ham? This was already an issue with Lampard at Derby and it suggests the main problem here is not the height...

Striker position on corner is usually in the front post. They are usually bad at marking hence they are not tasked to mark dangerous player or key area. 

Everyone keep talking about height is not everything, of course, it isn't. Ivanovic is 185 but absolute monster in the air. Christensen is 187 but very2 bad in the air, awful in fact. 

Now back to our team. Let's start with my original point, now you have watched Werner play, is he better in the air than Giroud or tammy.

Alonso with Chilwell, people say Chilwell is better in the air. If lamp ask Chilwell to mark opp cb then your point is right because that is alonso job on set pieces. 

Thiago Silva, if anyone have watched Thiago silva play, he is good aerially, but he is no Zouma let alone vvd. 

So now let's say we play

Werner 

Pulisic - Mount - Ziyech 

Kante - kova

Chilwell - Silva - Christensen - azpi

Kepa

That is perfectly reasonable lineup. Now Lamp set a perfect organization. Forget playing big team like west ham, let's play pool with only 3 tall players, 2 cb vs two cb, who will mark fabinho??

Ok now you said man marking is stupid, let play zone, silva and Christensen in the middle. Who will defend far post. We saw azpi got beaten in thr air by Soucek for west ham goal, or are we going to wait for Kepa to catch cross. 

I haven't talked about Christensen beaten easily in the air. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
15 minutes ago, communicate said:

Striker position on corner is usually in the front post. They are usually bad at marking hence they are not tasked to mark dangerous player or key area. 

But Abraham wasn't at the front post. He was guarding the post, on the goal-line, you know where full backs or shorter players tend to be at!?

20 minutes ago, communicate said:

Everyone keep talking about height is not everything, of course, it isn't. Ivanovic is 185 but absolute monster in the air. Christensen is 187 but very2 bad in the air, awful in fact. 

Now back to our team. Let's start with my original point, now you have watched Werner play, is he better in the air than Giroud or tammy.

Alonso with Chilwell, people say Chilwell is better in the air. If lamp ask Chilwell to mark opp cb then your point is right because that is alonso job on set pieces. 

Thiago Silva, if anyone have watched Thiago silva play, he is good aerially, but he is no Zouma let alone vvd. 

So now let's say we play

Werner 

Pulisic - Mount - Ziyech 

Kante - kova

Chilwell - Silva - Christensen - azpi

Kepa

That is perfectly reasonable lineup. Now Lamp set a perfect organization. Forget playing big team like west ham, let's play pool with only 3 tall players, 2 cb vs two cb, who will mark fabinho??

"Height is not everything" and yet, you still went on about height. :doh:

21 minutes ago, communicate said:

Ok now you said man marking is stupid, let play zone, silva and Christensen in the middle. Who will defend far post. We saw azpi got beaten in thr air by Soucek for west ham goal, or are we going to wait for Kepa to catch cross. 

I haven't talked about Christensen beaten easily in the air. 

Are you taking the piss? Where the F did I say man marking is stupid!? :doh: 

Seriously fellas, we should just start buying giants so communicate can stop ranting about height being the main issue here... :doh: 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
24 minutes ago, Jason said:

But Abraham wasn't at the front post. He was guarding the post, on the goal-line, you know where full backs or shorter players tend to be at!?

"Height is not everything" and yet, you still went on about height. :doh:

Are you taking the piss? Where the F did I say man marking is stupid!? :doh: 

Seriously fellas, we should just start buying giants so communicate can stop ranting about height being the main issue here... :doh: 

He was on the front post. Just watch the replay. 

Wait so werner is better in the air than Giroud?? 

Chilwell will defend cb? 

Silva is better in the air than zouma? 

And I have barely mentioned height, I said aerially good player.

LOL, you keep mentioning height to the point that it confuse me but I have never mentioned height, I said aerially gold player. 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
17 minutes ago, Jason said:

 

Are you taking the piss? Where the F did I say man marking is stupid!? :doh: 

 

Nope, i want to know how are you going to defend set pieces with that lineup. What is the plan against pool. I gave two scenario. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Honestly, let's wait till season start to see who is right.

I said playing thiago, with Christensen, and Chilwell with werner up top will make us very weak against set pieces. Most people said nope, it is the organization not the personel. 

I think two or three perso said Chilwell is better in the air than alonso. It is also very easy to check, if Chilwell is being tasked to mark opp cb one on one than I am maybe wrong. 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
58 minutes ago, communicate said:

Nope, i want to know how are you going to defend set pieces with that lineup. What is the plan against pool. I gave two scenario. 

2 CBs vs 2 CBs. Chilwell/Kante on Fabinho.

1 hour ago, communicate said:

And I have barely mentioned height, I said aerially good player.

LOL, you keep mentioning height to the point that it confuse me but I have never mentioned height, I said aerially gold player.

Other aspects like leap, timing, physicality have been mentioned when it comes to aerial challenges and yet you kept on mentioning about height, about players not being shorter than the opposition...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, communicate said:

 

So now let's say we play

Werner 

Pulisic - Mount - Ziyech 

Kante - kova

Chilwell - Silva - Christensen - azpi

Kepa

That is perfectly reasonable lineup

It is not. You put this lineup just to say we will be weak in set pieces. No Havertz really? 189cm and our best player? Chris I agree is weak but why did you put him before Zouma and Rudiger? He is behind them no doubt.

Our new GK will be much better than Kepa in set pieces so another thing you ignored. And it is possible that we will sign Rice this month.

But again this is not an issue. Go watch some goals we conceded last season from set pieces... Lerma 179cm after corner, Firmino 181cm between Alonso and Chris 188cm both...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

How Kurt Zouma scaled a steep learning curve to be Chelsea’s defensive constant

https://theathletic.com/2074728/2020/09/20/kurt-zouma-chelsea-lampard-centre-backs-thiago-silva/

zouma-chelsea-scaled-e1600451668481-1024x681.jpg

Kurt Zouma’s second Premier League goal for Chelsea, against Brighton at the Amex Stadium on Monday, arrived almost five years to the day after his first. His understated celebration — jogging slowly over with a broad smile to thank Reece James for his inviting corner delivery — didn’t give much of an indication as to the personal significance of the moment.

Perhaps that was because the goal secured a 3-1 victory Chelsea had done little to deserve, with a disjointed performance to kick off a Premier League campaign in which much is expected of them.

Or perhaps it was because his hooked shot from the edge of the penalty area needed a friendly deflection off the right leg of Adam Webster in order to creep over the line, and Zouma knows better than most how quickly and cruelly the football fates can turn.


In September 2015, when a towering header against Arsenal opened his scoring account at Stamford Bridge, it seemed as if nothing could derail Zouma’s momentum. Chelsea’s title defence was crumbling spectacularly in the toxic final throes of Jose Mourinho’s second spell in charge, but the young Frenchman’s personal star was rising.

He featured in 23 of Chelsea’s first 25 Premier League matches that season, starting 21 times. Indispensable first to Mourinho and then to Guus Hiddink, he had established himself as the likeliest cornerstone of the club’s next great defence — until one moment, midway through the second half of a 1-1 home draw with Manchester United, changed everything.

“I can still see the image really clearly in my head,” former Chelsea assistant Steve Holland tells The Athletic. “It was a jump on the halfway line — one of those incredible jumps that Kurt has the power to execute — and then he landed badly on his knee.”

Zouma had ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee and, though he didn’t know it yet, would be out of competitive action for 11 months. “That was a really cruel blow,” Holland adds. “He was on an upward trajectory at Chelsea, getting more involved with France at senior level, and that was a really tough pill for him to take.

“Given his personality, he was very matter-of-fact about it. It was obviously a massive blow, but it was what it was and he’s a determined character. He worked very hard to come back.”

Holland speaks with real pride on Zouma’s development, before and after the injury. He was the member of Mourinho’s backroom staff tasked with watching the weekly edited match clips of all Chelsea’s loanees, and he spent six months keeping a close eye on Zouma after he was signed for £12 million in January 2014 and then immediately loaned back to Saint-Etienne for the remainder of that season.

Zouma

Zouma and his Saint-Etienne team-mate Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in 2013 (Photo: Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP via Getty Images)

“What you could see immediately was this was a hulk of a guy, a 6ft 3in powerhouse with an incredible leap, speed and agility — the attributes required (for a centre-back) in the Premier League,” Holland adds. “The other thing I noticed was that although we’d recruited him as a central defender he was playing right-back for Saint-Etienne at the time, and he showed more than capable confidence on the ball.”

When he finally arrived at Cobham in the summer of 2014 at the age of 19, it didn’t take long for Zouma to make a positive impression on Mourinho, not a coach with a reputation for easily trusting young players.

“The fact that physically there were going to be no concerns despite his young age was a good starting point,” Holland says. “Then I think his personality meant Jose trusted him immediately. Kurt is a devout Muslim, a very humble, well-mannered, calm guy who has really good focus and is generally a pleasure to work with. He endeared himself to Jose, not just from a physical perspective but from a personal one.”

Zouma largely played the role of understudy to a settled back four of Branislav Ivanovic, Gary Cahill, John Terry and Cesar Azpilicueta in the title-winning 2014-15 campaign, but Holland remembers two moments in particular that provided an early insight into the youngster’s value.

“We played Tottenham in the League Cup final and we had a problem with (Nemanja) Matic, who was suspended,” Holland says. “Mikel (John Obi) was injured, so we had offensive midfielders like Ramires and (Cesc) Fabregas but no one to provide the stability (in midfield) that allows the offensive players to go and influence the game.

“Jose was worried that if we tried something different and trained it all week, the conversations between players were so rife that it would get out and Tottenham would know what we were doing.

“I can remember him having the conversation with Jose about what Jose wanted of him. Kurt has this great focus where he doesn’t give anything away, but he’s just staring at you, with his eyes piercing, on every word. Then there’s a shrug of the shoulders, a nod of the head and an ‘OK’, and off he went to do it.

“He was playing out of position in a cup final in his first season in the Premier League and he was exceptional. Chelsea won and he played a big part in it.”

zouma-cup-final-scaled.jpg

Less than a month later, Manchester United, surging under Louis van Gaal, visited Stamford Bridge and Zouma got another chance to display the full range of his qualities as Chelsea attempted to see off the likeliest remaining threat to their title charge.

“(Marouane) Fellaini had been a very instrumental part of United’s success under Van Gaal, running forward into the box and using his big presence in the air,” Holland says. “Jose had earmarked Zouma for a man-marking role on Fellaini, which was different to what he’d been asked to do in the cup final, where he was basically a pivot.

“But again, he handled it really well, adapted, saw off Fellaini, who was no threat on the day, and also managed to participate with the ball in our play. Those are two really good examples of his adaptability and football brain.”


Zouma’s body had let him down at Chelsea but his brain did not. He threw himself into his lengthy rehabilitation with the same focus and determination, and staff at Cobham say his demeanour continued to live up to his unforgettable middle name, Happy, even as he navigated the tedious daily routine of arriving for afternoon sessions with the club’s medical staff separate from the rest of the squad.

By the time he made his return to competitive action in an FA Cup tie against Peterborough in January 2017, Chelsea’s defensive hierarchy had shifted considerably. They were top of the league again under Antonio Conte and David Luiz, Cahill, newly-converted centre-back Azpilicueta and Terry were all ahead of him in the pecking order.

“At this time he was still finding his feet again and it was a difficult period for him to get the minutes he needed to get himself back on track,” Holland says. “It can be two years before you start to get back to what you were before (after the sort of injury he suffered), and that was unlikely under Antonio at the time. He didn’t have a lot of faith in the player because he hadn’t seen him at his best, and he had a settled team who were winning every week.”

Zouma, Peterborough

Chelsea spent the summer of 2017 unsuccessfully pursuing Virgil van Dijk and Kalidou Koulibaly to bolster Conte’s defensive options. Plans were made to send Zouma on loan to Stoke City to get the minutes he needed to regain his rhythm and confidence. “We needed another centre-back and we’d contacted Chelsea to discuss our interest in Kurt, if he became available,” Eddie Niedzwiecki, a former Chelsea goalkeeper and Mark Hughes’ assistant at Stoke at the time, tells The Athletic. “We knew he was coming back from an ACL injury, and we were lucky enough to get him.

“He came into work every day with a smile on his face. He had a good friendship in particular with (Eric Maxim) Choupo-Moting and Mame (Biram) Diouf. Erik Pieters also used to sit at their table (in the canteen). He was so welcoming and I think he was just glad of the opportunity to be playing first-team football, especially after the injury.”

Zouma’s natural positivity was tested by a season in which Stoke’s decade of stability as a Premier League club disintegrated. Mark Hughes was sacked in the January, Niedzwiecki left soon afterwards following a short caretaker spell and new manager Paul Lambert could not save the 2017-18 campaign from ending in relegation with 68 goals conceded in 38 matches, the joint-worst record in the division.

“He was one of the few plusses in Stoke’s team that year,” Holland insists. “It was a completely different experience for Kurt and an important year for his mental development — having to come out of his comfort zone, meet new players, work in more demanding circumstances with a lot more pressure in a team that was struggling. He had a bit more responsibility on the pitch, which he accepted, and that helped his leadership qualities emerge.”

While hardly satisfying, that Stoke experience did at least serve the purpose of getting Zouma’s body used to the rigours of regular Premier League football again. He made 34 appearances in the Premier League that season, 32 of which were starts. “He was firm on himself, but he had such a good character that he could recover from his mistakes and learn even more,” Niedzwiecki adds.

“He also did a lot of work in the gym. A lot of credit there goes to the fitness and the physio department (at Stoke), in particular Andy Davies, Nathan Williams and young Josh Bowen. They were in regular contact with Chelsea regarding his programme and what they felt he needed as well in his recuperation. His fitness record was very good.”

The following season was when Zouma started to show real signs of returning to his upward trajectory. Out on loan again, he made 32 Premier League appearances and 29 starts at the heart of an Everton defence that conceded fewer goals (46) than any other top-flight club outside the top four. “Physically there were real signs of progress, of him getting back to his best,” Holland recalls. “With any player that injury takes its toll, but particularly with a player so physically powerful, whose game is dependent on the power, the speed and the agility.

zouma-everton-scaled.jpg

“It took a bit of time for him to recover all those attributes, and the confidence that comes from that is then transferred into better performances. I wasn’t surprised that, off the back of his year at Everton, Chelsea made the decision to bring him back into the fold.”

Chelsea’s decision in the summer of 2019 scuppered Everton’s hopes of making the loan a permanent move.

Mired in the relegation zone by the December of last season, they sacked manager Marco Silva. Two of the primary factors cited in the team’s spectacular decline were the failure to find the goals once scored by Romelu Lukaku up front, and the failure to adequately replace Zouma’s presence at the back.


Zouma quietly played 3,706 minutes for Chelsea across all competitions last season, making him the third-most used outfielder in Frank Lampard’s squad. The other significant point about his minutes tally is that it was almost 1,400 more than the next most frequently-used centre-back, Andreas Christensen on 2,341. It highlighted both Lampard’s trust in the maturing France international, but also his struggles to find a defensive combination he could rely upon.

“In that position particularly, it’s a great advantage to have stability as a pair, not to be constantly changing partner,” Holland says. “Going back to the two title-winning seasons at Chelsea, Antonio’s back five was very stable and Jose’s back four was very consistent. It’s a huge advantage to be playing in a unit that’s consistent, rather than constantly changing partner and sides, sometimes on the left and sometimes on the right.”

The evidence of Lampard’s tenure so far is that Zouma is best placed among Chelsea’s incumbent centre-backs to be part of a stable defence. There were promising signs in his work with Christensen last Monday against Brighton, whose scoring chances were limited to one unmarked Lewis Dunk header and a speculative shot by Leandro Trossard that Kepa Arrizabalaga probably should have saved. “I thought the two centre-backs were terrific in how they defended, and that is maybe a game we might have dropped points in last year,” Lampard told Sky Sports afterwards.

Thiago Silva’s arrival offers another path to success for Zouma — a path that served him well when he first broke through at Chelsea, playing alongside older heads, in Terry and Cahill, who could guide him. “It’ll be an absolute dream for him, but not only him,” Niedzwiecki says. “The other centre-backs at Chelsea also — Christensen, (Fikayo) Tomori. They should be picking his (Silva’s) brain, asking him questions, day in and day out. They should all develop massively with him.”

To get there, Zouma knows he will have to cut out the mistakes that underpinned his worst performances last season — when he looked lost positionally for long spells in a 4-0 humiliation by Manchester United at Old Trafford and a 3-1 loss to Everton at Goodison Park. But there were also promising flashes, most notably a heroic last-ditch tackle on Christian Benteke to preserve a crucial 3-2 away win over Crystal Palace.

“The focus and the concentration on some of the positional nuances you need to play that position at the top level, the anticipation, the decision-making, are all areas that Kurt can continue to improve,” says Holland, who also thinks Zouma can make much more of his physical gifts during attacking set pieces; he has only six goals to his name in 142 Premier League appearances.

“Kurt often makes first contact with the ball at free kicks and corners, but his technical direction (of headers) can definitely be improved,” he adds. “He can score more goals than he does from set plays, and I think he’d accept that.”

Zouma, who turns 26 next month, should get the minutes to ensure the wait for his next Premier League goal for Chelsea isn’t quite as long. But even more importantly, Lampard is waiting to see which of his centre-backs are good enough to anchor a defence worthy of domestic and European contenders.

Chelsea’s happy Frenchman has waited too long, worked too hard and overcome too much to let this opportunity pass him by.

Unionjack likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 9/22/2020 at 2:13 PM, Magic Lamps said:

Zouma-Silva can be an extremely rewarding partnership if they hit it off. They complement each other perfectly 

Chilwell and James better start taking some French classes

Unionjack and killer1257 like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Always loved both of Rudi and Happy as characters. Both excellent to have in the dressing room.
They should be a brilliant partbership,

But I wish we would make a late bid for KK!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 hours ago, !Hazard! said:

Chilwell and James better start taking some French classes

Chilwell can not even speak his mother tongue properly how is he supposed to learn a foreign language^^

killer1257 likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 hours ago, !Hazard! said:

Chilwell and James better start taking some French classes

When was the last time language became such a hot topic after we signed someone? :carlo: 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 minutes ago, Magic Lamps said:

Chilwell can not even speak his mother tongue properly how is he supposed to learn a foreign language^^

Has Chilwell banged your mother and never called her back or what? Your agenda against him is even worse than other members' against Mount.

Jason likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have to say I'm actually pleasently surprised at how zouma has improved. 

From signing with us to sending him to loan to wanting him gone to now seeing his work and value in the club. 

Lampard has done good work in bringing back zouma and put his trust in him. 

killer1257 and Stats like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 minutes ago, lucio said:

He regained his pace and explosiveness , cheek and odoi need to do the same 

Took 2 to 3 seasons to do that. Likewise they need to go on loan to regain that. 

lucio likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@Vesper

one thing sad of that article you posted is this:

Chelsea spent the summer of 2017 unsuccessfully pursuing Virgil van Dijk and Kalidou Koulibaly to bolster Conte’s defensive options.

Dang how we would have done with Conte if we had gotten those two. 🙁

Vesper and Unionjack like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.