For the third time this season, a Chelsea player made his club debut and scored a goal. Following Diego Costa and Loïc Rémy (who somehow contrived to not score in this one), Kurt Zouma opened his Chelsea goalscoring account in his very first competitive appearance. What was most impressive about the goal wasn't even the goal, but his jump for the initially missed header. I tried to capture the magnificence of said leap in this blurry screenshot.
(Did you try clicking on the arrow to play? Come on, admit it... teehee...)
Eyeballing it while adjustive for the camera angle and perspective, he's basically levitating with feet extended at about waist-high. Which would give him roughly a 30" vertical, albeit from a running start. Still, that's NBA territory for the 19-year-old. Impressive.
But what about the rest of his game? Here's assistant manager Steve Holland with the verdict.
"Kurt is a player who has waited patiently for a chance to play."
"We have talked about him for games in the Premier League although he hasn't yet. He is in the discussions. He is not an inexperienced kid. He has played games for St-Etienne both as a right-back and centre-back, he is a France Under-21 international in a strong group, and tonight without being particularly tested he was immaculate. What he did have to do he dealt with comfortably and being a threat in the opposition penalty box is a big bonus for a centre-back."
‘There will be more difficult tests ahead for him but he did everything that was asked of him tonight..."
Strong praise from the Chelsea management team then, even though Bolton were rarely a threat to our backline (minus that one set piece where we were more concerned about holding hands than anything else).
As Holland said, Zouma shall have sterner tests in the future, but starting with an easy matchup isn't the worst thing in the world. We saw the big man play quite a bit in preseason and while there was plenty of room for improvement especially in the mental aspects of his game, he can only improve those by actually playing. Training with veterans like John Terry and even Gary Cahill is great and all, but regular appearances against quality opposition will be the biggest key.