Silva and Zouma establish early lead in race to become Frank Lampard’s first choice pair in defence

David Luiz departed Chelsea on transfer deadline day a year ago, leaving 4 senior center-backs behind. Over the course of the season, each one had their time as first choice, and almost every combination of the group was used. Ultimately, no individual was able to establish themselves as Frank Lampard’s first choice, and each partnership showed itself to be flawed in its own way.

That proved to be a big weakness for the team overall, and finding a dominant partnership is a priority for the early days of this new season.

Going by Saturday’s performance, we may well have found the pair to use going forward. The addition of Thiago Silva over the summer gave Lampard a strong cornerstone to build off, and his game alongside Kurt Zouma produced a clean sheet in a 4-0 win. The pair complemented each other well, and Silva’s calmness helped Zouma look totally dominant on his side.

Lampard specifically praised them after the game, and made clear how keen he was to get an established partnership going:

“Thiago and Kurt looked very good, very composed,” the manager said in quotes on the club’s official website.

“Thiago has that great experience and we saw that. He is obviously still in his early days in terms of fitness, but let’s see how that partnership works.

“I want to find some sort of stability with the back four, of course I do. Those two showed how well they can do it, but that needs to be sustained.”

Of course Crystal Palace were very limited in attack, but that is in part down to the calm and effective work done by the duo sweeping up any balls pushed up towards Wilf Zaha and Jordan Ayew.

Tougher tests are coming, but the string of fixtures after the international break – Southampton and Sevilla at home followed by Man U away – should mean Silva and Zouma end up playing a 4 game run to prove their long term viability, before the manager potentially changes things up for the trip to Russia to face Krasnodar at the end of the month.

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