Sunday’s mauling of Manchester United and ex-boss Jose Mourinho left Chelsea just one point behind the Premier League leaders.
And the Blues received yet more good news yesterday with the return to action of Kurt Zouma.
The highly-rated Frenchman played 45 minutes for Chelsea’s Under 23’s in a 2-2 draw against Derby County.
As welcome a sight as Zouma was, it’s clear that the 21-year-old will likely need a few more games in the youth team before he’s ready for first-team action.
Zoom conceded a penalty in the 35th minute after a poorly-timed challenge on Derby’s Charles Vernam. Clearly, Zouma has a few cobwebs to dust off.
The centre-back played for the first time in nine months after suffering a cruciate knee ligament injury in February. He sent the following tweet afterwards.
Zouma produced a steady performance against Derby, making a nice tackle early on before conceding the penalty. Go to 3:23 in the video below to check out his ill-timed challenge.
Antonio Conte will have enjoyed seeing Chelsea’s youngsters mirroring the senior team’s new 3-4-3 formation, which ripped Leicester City and Manchester United to shreds in their past two games.
Zouma’s return gives the Chelsea manager a bit of a selection headache moving forwards. Gary Cahill, David Luiz and Cesar Azpilicueta were the chosen three on Sunday, with John Terry on the bench.
It’s a nice problem to have, though. Before his injury, picked up in a game against Man United, Zouma was among the brightest talents in Europe.
Comparisons with Desailly
“He reminds me of France legend and former AC Milan and Chelsea defender Marcel Desailly with his power and presence,” BBC pundit Danny Murphy said last year after Zouma impressed in a 1-1 draw with Manchester City.
“But the greatest quality he demonstrated against City was his calmness for his age - he did not once look panicked.
“And this was not against a lower-league team in the League Cup. He was playing against Sergio Aguero and David Silva, which makes what he did even more special.”
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