WHO Poll
Q: 2021/22 What competition should we prioritise this season?
a. The league is our bread & butter, so this year let's have a club sandwich
27%
  
b. We're owed an FA Cup after Gerrard nicked our last one in 06, our name's on it in 22
10%
  
c. A bye to the League Cup 3rd round gives us a good start, let's make it count
6%
  
d. The Europa is our best ticket to the Champions League, this is the one
35%
  
e. What's wrong with you, let's do the lot, has the quadruple ever been done
21%
  



Irish Hammer 12:55 Sun Aug 29
Article on our new Centre Back - Mr Kurt Zouma
Evening all, I’ve a feeling this guy is going to be an excellent signing 🤞🏼

Aerial dominance and heroic last-ditch tackles: What West Ham can expect from Kurt Zouma

Kurt Zouma will go down as a classic example of how careers at Chelsea can be defined and ultimately determined by Sliding Doors moments.

A rare player trusted by Jose Mourinho in big games when barely out of his teens, Zouma was set to become a defensive pillar at Stamford Bridge before a sickening ACL injury against Manchester United in February 2016 set his life, like those of the characters in the 1998 movie, on a different path. It took him three and a half years and two season-long loans, at Stoke City and then Everton, to earn another chance at Chelsea under Frank Lampard.

Zouma played almost 1,400 minutes (over 15 matches) more than the next most used Chelsea centre-back, Andreas Christensen, across all competitions in Lampard’s 2019-20 debut season in charge. His position of prominence might have sustained had Lampard lasted longer than 18 months in the role, but the January arrival of Thomas Tuchel saw the prospect of a long-term future as a regular Chelsea starter drift away again.

Tuchel was unconvinced Zouma was polished enough with the ball at his feet to play in his three-man back line, and also had doubts about the Frenchman’s ability to defend in his system without costly lapses in positioning or concentration.

That was an easier conclusion to draw when he could turn to Antonio Rudiger, Thiago Silva and Cesar Azpilicueta as well as Christensen, who between them provided the foundation for last season’s Champions League final triumph.

None of the reasons why Zouma ultimately failed to make himself indispensable to Chelsea should concern West Ham, his new club.

His limitations in possession were only relative to Tuchel’s particular stylistic demands and should matter much less in a David Moyes team, where he will likely be put in the best position to allow his considerable strengths to shine through.

Zouma is an overwhelming athletic force, capable of both dominating the most imposing Premier League strikers in physical duels and keeping up with fast opponents trying to run in behind him. That speed across the ground also helps him atone for any positional mistakes he does make, as well as rescue others around him; one heroic last-ditch tackle on Christian Benteke to preserve a vital 3-2 away win over Crystal Palace in July last year springs to mind.

He might also have the best vertical leap in the Premier League, despite having that ACL injury in his past. According to fbref.com, supplied by Statsbomb data, his 4.21 aerial duels won per 90 minutes over the past year places him in the 95th percentile for centre-backs across Europe’s top five leagues.

That aerial ability always made Zouma dominant in the air defensively, but in the early days after joining from Saint-Etienne in January 2014 his headers in the opposition penalty area were wildly erratic.

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

At that time, Zouma had just scored his first Premier League goal for Chelsea in five years, a fortuitously deflected shot from a partially-cleared corner against Brighton. He went on to add four more in 24 top-flight appearances, all towering headers, to finish behind only strikers Tammy Abraham and Timo Werner for non-penalty goals in the league.

He has turned himself into a devastating, at times utterly undeniable aerial weapon from corners and free kicks, and his presence in the opposition box — alongside Tomas Soucek, Declan Rice, Michail Antonio and whichever centre-back Moyes chooses to pair him with (Craig Dawson has 47 career goals!) — should make West Ham nothing short of terrifying in dead-ball situations.

Off the pitch, Zouma has been a beloved team-mate in every Premier League dressing room he’s entered.

Happy by middle name (look it up) and happy by nature, his smile is infectious and his quirky personality should become a regular source of laughter at West Ham, among players and fans alike. His hilariously meme-able reaction on the substitutes’ bench to Nemanja Matic’s cannonball strike to clinch victory over Tottenham Hotspur in the 2016-17 FA Cup semi-finals has gone down in Chelsea folklore, as has his outrageously flamboyant run and spectacularly wild shot in a 4-4 draw with Ajax in the Champions League group stage two years ago.

Turning 27 in late October, Zouma has the high-level experience of a veteran despite only just entering what he hopes will be the prime years of his career. West Ham should also be getting a player who feels he has plenty still to prove, considering that the biggest team honours in his career — Premier League titles in 2014-15 and 2016-17, plus last season’s Champions League triumph — have been achieved with him as a peripheral rather than central figure.

In a pre-pandemic transfer market, Chelsea might have hoped to get as much as double the £25 million West Ham are paying for Zouma. With a different head coach, perhaps they wouldn’t be looking to sell him at all.

Moyes has got his hands on an above-average Premier League centre-back who is legitimately special in a couple of aspects that could make him particularly valuable to his new club, and it should be fun to watch him flourish.

Replies - Newest Posts First (Show In Chronological Order)

jakehammer 11:00 Sun Aug 29
Re: Article on our new Centre Back - Mr Kurt Zouma
Thanks Irish. another great article. well done son.

gph 2:39 Sun Aug 29
Re: Article on our new Centre Back - Mr Kurt Zouma
Thanks, Irish

Sydney_Iron 1:41 Sun Aug 29
Re: Article on our new Centre Back - Mr Kurt Zouma
Thanks Irish 1:39 Sun Aug 29

Thanks Irish 1:39 Sun Aug 29
Re: Article on our new Centre Back - Mr Kurt Zouma
Thanks Irish





Copyright 2006 WHO.NET | Powered by: