OPINION: Would you start Kurt Zouma against Manchester United to deal with Fellaini?
Watching the Manchester Derby last weekend and the subsequent analysis on Sky Sports Monday Night...
Watching the Manchester Derby last weekend and the subsequent analysis on Sky Sports Monday Night Football, I wonder if Jose Mourinho is thinking of playing Kurt Zouma to deal with Marouane Fellaini on Saturday?
Much has been made of the big Belgian's influence down that left hand side playing in tandem with Daley Blind and Ashley Young. Should Chelsea be that concerned?
You look at what appears to be Chelsea's strongest eleven based on previous selections this season and we would have Ivanovic at right back with Willian ahead of him, in addition to the cover we have in midfield of Matic. Aren't they enough to deal with the threat United pose?
Do you not think that Willian would provide Daley Blind much more of a threat on Saturday night than he would have had to face ever since he reverted back to that position?
What about the possibility that Jose Mourinho could deploy Eden Hazard down our right hand side to force Blind backwards and Young to backtrack and help out his Dutch team mate as they look to double up against him?
Don't get me wrong or miss-understand me here, I am well aware that its an obvious threat that has to be dealt with but surely, in changing our formation and arguably our strongest team to counter the threat United have at home would be playing into their hands? United should be more concerned about the threats that Chelsea pose.
I look at United's right hand side and see opportunities for Chelsea. Looking at their team selection and formation, you can count on Antonio Valencia playing at right back and Juan Mata in front of him with possibly Ander Herrera being asked to also provide cover. Are they great defenders? Would you count on Herrera and Mata to track back constantly to provide Valencia with cover if he was to face up to Eden Hazard? Remember the reason Mata was sold people!
So what of Zouma coming into midfield to combat Fellaini? Could it work? You would have to imagine that he would be brought into the side to play a man marking role on the Belgian. Would that be next to Matic or next to Fabregas and Matic? Could Jose Mourinho decide to adopt a 4-3-3 formation to match that of United?
There is no question that Zouma has impressed all of us with his ability and performances in that role when called upon this season. The manager trusts him to do so and would be more than happy to throw him in this one if he feels the game needs Zouma there.
You only have to look at the League Cup Final against Tottenham for an idea of how good he could be in that holding midfield position. Chelsea were beaten by Tottenham at White Hart Lane earlier in the season and Christian Erikson ran a mock that day, finding space in behind our midfield. Zouma came into the team on Cup Final day to combat that threat and it worked a treat:
I am not so sure that Mourinho is 100% sold on the idea to be honest because it would take away our attacking threat in the game from both sides. If you believe Jamie Carragher last Monday, he felt that Zouma AND Ramires would come into the side, Ramires for Willian, to play narrow, leaving Eden Hazard to work his magic or for Chelsea to rely on set pieces to win the game.
As I have said, although there is a threat down our right hand side that needs to be considered, I honestly believe that Mourinho would see the possibilities for us down the other side for Hazard and to use Willian to force Blind and Young backwards down that right side by playing our normal team selection as the best form of defence is to attack for Chelsea.
United's back four isn't the best and they MUST be tested by pace and movement from Chelsea. We have to move the ball quickly and play at a high tempo. We must force United backwards to take the likes of Fellaini and Mata out of the game in our half. They need to spend more time working without the ball than they can with it.
There will be people that would favour Zouma to start and those would wouldn't. I want to know what YOU think?
Would you play Kurt Zouma on Saturday to combat the threat of Marouane Fellaini?