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KURT-AINS

Kurt Zouma’s first-half fragility shows the first cracks in Frank Lampard’s difficult Chelsea project

With David Luiz now at Arsenal and Antonio Rudiger out injured - it's Chelsea's defence that's really taking a hit from their summer transfer ban

Chelsea could probably use somebody with the experience and moderate competency David Luiz or Gary Cahill around about now.

While neither Man United nor the Blues were particularly eye-catching in the first-half of their Premier League opener at Old Trafford, it’s fair to say that United took better advantage of their opposition’s short-comings.

In particular, the defensive naivety of Frank Lampard’s side, which fielded the centre-back pairing of Andreas Christensen and Kurt Zouma.


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Last season it was Luiz and Antonio Rudiger who was Maurizio Sarri’s preferred pairing, but with Luiz heading off to Arsenal on transfer deadline day – amidst an apparent fall out with Lampard – and Rudiger’s long-term injury, the new Chelsea boss is stuck with the duo for the time being.

And while they’re certainly two very good defenders, they do feel like two players who’ve been thrown together at the last minute – brought in due to circumstance, rather than choice.

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It’s not the only area of their team that feels a little light.

Chelsea’s summer transfer ban has forced them to field a number of players that wouldn’t usually get much of a look-in in ordinary circumstances, with Mason Mount and Tammy Abraham two other players you would expect to start.

True, the pair are clearly talented, but you get the sense their inclusion is 100% down to the Blues’ lack of summer signings, rather than the club’s faith in their academy graduates.

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And in Zouma, there’s a strong chance that he’d be playing for Everton right now instead of Chelsea – following his loan spell on Merseyside last term – had Chelsea not had to endure their ban on summer signings, as the Toffees seemed keen on signing him permanently.

Zouma’s clearly a good defender, having picked up caps for France and made over 100 Premier League appearances for Chelsea, Stoke and Everton combined through his loan spells, and he’s highly-rated by his former manager Jose Mourinho.

But he’ll need to step up as the season progresses and reach the level that’s expected at a top team like Chelsea, especially with the side’s lack of defensive numbers.


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