For a major part of this Premier League season, the fight for the ultimate prize has been arguably only between Chelsea and Manchester City. Day before yesterday’s game was deemed to be the fixture that could well decide which shade of blue is to lift this year’s PL title.
The away game for Chelsea resulted in a well-contested 1-1 draw, and the story was no different this time around as well. Although The Blues were devoid of the creative and the clinical nature of their key summer signings, they did manage to keep the game alive till the very last kick of the ball. Loic Remy got himself a goal from a very good ball in by Hazard in 41′, which was responded well by a David Silva equaliser during additional time in the first half. Man City were, however, the better team going forward for most part of the game.
But if it weren’t for this man – Kurt Zouma, the fixture could well have gone in favour of City. He made some crunching tackles that were key to Chelsea’s defensive display. They also proved to be vital for Chelsea’s endurance in this well-fought battle.
Here is analysing the young French international’s game, and why we thought he was the best-looking player for Chelsea last evening.
THE GIANT, BABY-FACED DISCIPLINARY:
Kurt Zouma stands 190 cm tall, and has been a brick wall for Chelsea whenever called into play. He has won 64% of duels, made 4 interceptions and 3 clearances in 5 appearances for The Blues. This is a pretty impressive record. Last evening, he won 100% of aerial duels, completed all tackles successfully and regained possession for Chelsea, made 1 block, 3 clearances and 1 interception. He had done all this without being booked or giving away a single foul. In fact, out of all the appearances made, Zouma has not committed even one foul for Chelsea. This is an astonishingly great attribute to have for any defender, because in order to perform well in defense, a defender must, at some point in time, be forced to “take one for the team” and commit a foul. But Zouma, being the huge player that he already is, insists on being disciplined and accurate when it comes to stealing the ball from the feet of the opposition.
THE CLEARING PASSER:
An amazing attribute that was identified in the 20-year-old’s game last evening, was the fact that whenever he cleared the ball, he made sure that he did so in the direction in which another Chelsea player would be close enough to receive it, and hence helped regain possession for Chelsea in a non-threatening area of the field.
HONOURABLE MENTIONS IN ZOUMA’S GAME:
– Early on in the game, Zouma made a hard, crunching slide-tackle on Sergio Aguero in the box, who was drifting in on the left flank with crazy pace and momentum. Zouma, just behind, caught up with his pace inside the box and slid in from Aguero’s right side, timing the tackle perfectly and clearing the ball away and out of danger. This was the first major involvement in the French’s game.
– The lad brilliantly maintained his composure and was calm throughout the match which in turn reflected on the entire Chelsea defense.
– He successfully retained Chelsea’s defensive back-four and proved to be a more than worthy replacement for the out-of-form Gary Cahill.
– Zouma did amazingly well in winning all aerial duels: his superiority in the air was unmatched by any of the Man City players.
– In the dying minutes of the game, when City had brought on Lampard and were looking at their most attacking selves, Zouma played a key role in keeping David Silva, Aguero and Milner quiet. He ran in and around the box, approached City players who had the ball and attempted to bring it back with confidence and sheer perseverance.
THOUGHTS FROM AN EXPERT ABOUT KURT ZOUMA (POST FIXTURE):
“It was a surprise selection because I was expecting Gary Cahill to come back in alongside John Terry in defence, but instead Mourinho went with a 20-year-old who had only started one other Premier League game before Saturday. Zouma responded by putting in a brilliant performance against top-quality opposition.”
“He reminds me of France legend and former AC Milan and Chelsea defender Marcel Desailly with his power and presence, but the greatest quality he demonstrated against City was his calmness for his age – he did not once look panicked.”
– Danny Murphy in his TV analysis [SOURCE: BBC]
KURT ZOUMA: CHELSEA’S BEST PLAYER AGAINST MAN CITY
It is Zouma’s early days as a Chelsea player, and if he proves to be this good in his early stages, imagine how he will grow to be in future. Kurt is a definite contender for Chelsea’s next captain, for he is showing no lack of experience whatsoever at the mere age of 20. With the guidance from John Terry, the legend himself, and the massive support of the Chelsea fans, Zouma will go a long, long way in a blue shirt.
That’s it from now on the post-match analysis for the Chelsea-City game. Chelsea are facing Aston Villa next; away from home on the 7th of February. We hope to see them continue to perform as they have for most of this season, and maintain, if not extend the 5-point lead at the top of the table. KTBFFH!
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Edited By: Ankur Bhatt