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Kurt Zouma: Chelsea 'are starting to wake up'

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Chelsea's match against Stoke City at the Britannia Stadium for the League Cup might be José Mourinho's "second strike": the manager's job is hanging by a thread according to multiple reports. Today's match won't have as much importance to the club compared to next weekend's game against Liverpool, but it would be a good sign if the players could show some signs of progress towards a return to form -- and centre-back Kurt Zouma agrees.

"We have relaxed too much mentally. Our feet got too close to the fire.

"I don't know why we have not been able to achieve good things this season with the great players we have in our squad. But we are starting to wake up.

"We are all motivated -- not to make a spectacular comeback but simply to return to our normal levels."

-Kurt Zouma; Source: The Sun via the London Evening Standard

Zouma's flexibility has been used ever since his emergence in the 2014-15 season, seeing time not only at his natural position as a centre back but also being employed as a midfielder and most recently as a right back, filling in for the injured Branislav Ivanovic in matches against Dynamo Kiev and West Ham. But having grown used to play centrally, Zouma's struggles at the right flank were quite noticeable, and the player himself admitted he's had a bad time adapting to an unusual position.

"The manager played me at right-back against Dynamo Kiev and it was the first time in ages I have played in that role. I didn't get my bearings.

"My favoured role is in central defence."

-Kurt Zouma; Source: The Sun via the London Evening Standard

Most of us expect Mourinho to land a "weaker" starting eleven today, with Baba Rahman allowing César Azpilicueta to start at right back while Zouma returns to his natural position. Given Zouma's difficult time against West Ham's Aaron Cresswell and Mauro Zárate, it might for the best to leave Zouma at his preferred position for a little while.