Kalidou Koulibaly got his first start under Graham Potter in last night’s must-win Champions League group stage match against AC Milan, and while the veteran center back had a few issues early — and was perhaps lucky to avoid a yellow card inside the first handful of minutes — he eventually settled down and put in a solid shift on the left end of the restored back-three.
The defense did a fine job in marshaling Olivier Giroud and limiting Rafael Leão’s impact in the 3-0 win, pitching an all-too-rare shutout in the process, our first clean sheet in nine games, since the 1-0 win at Goodison on opening day.
It wasn’t a perfect performance but it was an improvement, and the 31-year-old is hoping it will lead to more regular playing time going forward.
“I am a player who needs to play regularly, everyone knows that. It is also true that I needed a period of adaptation, I am doing it well, I’m not perfect yet or what I want to be, but I’m getting there.
“I am very happy with this victory and the clean sheet, as it is always pleasing for a defender to not concede. We can be glad because Milan are a great team and we proved today that we could beat them. We knew this was a difficult match against a great Milan side, who were in good shape. We absolutely wanted to win this game, I am also glad to be back on the pitch and hope it will go better in future.”
-Kalidou Koulibaly; source: Sky Italia via Metro
K2 will be needed for sure, especially if Wesley Fofana’s knee injury turns out to be as bad as feared, so hopefully things indeed “go better” in the future. Last night’s performance was a positive step forward for him — just as it was for many others.