Zouma and Silva Help Chelsea Rediscover the Joy of Headed Goals

Back in Jose Mourinho's first managerial stint at Chelsea, the Blues were a real powerhouse when it came to scoring headers from set-pie...

Back in Jose Mourinho's first managerial stint at Chelsea, the Blues were a real powerhouse when it came to scoring headers from set-pieces. The likes of John Terry, Ricardo Carvalho, and William Gallas would terrorize opponents whenever Chelsea had a corner or a free-kick in a dangerous area. Back then, the Blues were one of the most physical sides in the world and their opponents found that out first-hand.

Focusing on Smaller, More Technical Players

However, a lot of time has passed since those Mourinho days, and Chelsea's owner has always loved how teams such as Barcelona played. As a result, he tried to bring in managers that favoured that style of play.

Luiz Felipe Scolari, Andre Villas-Boas, Carlo Ancelotti, and Maurizio Sarri were all employed to help produce that type of football and that often meant sacrificing areal presence in opposition boxes in favour of smaller in stature and more technical players.

The effect of this was easy to see in the 2019/2020 EPL season when Chelsea scored only nine headers, and only a few of those were from corners and free kicks. Even more surprisingly for Chelsea fans used to seeing their defenders bang headers in the net, only two defenders scored headers last season. Antonio Rudiger had two and Marcos Alonso one. That's a far cry from the barrage of headed goals Chelsea defenders used to put past opposition goalkeepers.

Working on Set Pieces Once Again

And then Frank Lampard and his coaching team decided to change this. The Blues' manager admitted that Chelsea worked on set pieces in training quite a lot this season.

The work that the Blues put in on the training ground has paid dividends on the pitch. The Blues have scored seven headed goals in the EPL in the 2020/2021 season with seventeen games played, and that's only two headed goals less than the entire last season.

Zouma and Silva - A Deadly Duo

Of the players who had scored headed goals, Kurt Zouma leads the charts with three goals, followed by Thiago Silva with two. This means that after a long time, Chelsea's two first-choice defenders are once again becoming a threat in the opposition box.

And how can they not be? When Kurt Zouma jumps he is head and shoulders above everyone around him. In the past, the Frenchman had a little trouble timing his jumps and would either jump too early or too late when a ball came his way.

However, this year he has been simply unplayable when in opposition boxes. His jumps were all timed to perfection, and if there were a basket near him, he would easily dunk that ball, and not just dunk it, but put his elbow in the rim too, Vince Carter style. Zouma may be a great option to back at football sportsbooks, but he would have been an even better proposition at betting sites for basketball if he opted for a different sport. 

Zouma could have had many more headed goals if it wasn't for Chelsea's 2020/2021 nemesis - the crossbar. The Blues have hit the woodwork more than any other team this season, and Zouma has rattled it the most violently of them all.

And whenever opposition defences were focused on preventing Zouma from scoring, Thiago Silva popped up. The Brazilian has bags of experience in Europe's top competitions and is great at finding space and then timing his jump perfectly.

He scored a textbook headed goal against West Ham and a similar one against Sheffield United too.

One has the feeling that lots of other set-piece goals will come from Silva and Zouma, and if you are a Chelsea fan, you must be enjoying that.

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