Kalidou Koulibaly shows Graham Potter why he must start for Chelsea amid Thiago Silva concern
Chelsea star Kalidou Koulibaly appears likely to start against Brentford tonight as Graham Potter looks to rotate his squad and maintain the fitness levels of his players. The Senegalese defender played 45 minutes in the win against Aston Villa after replacing Marc Cucurella in defence at half-time.
Thiago Silva played the entire match at Villa Park and with the Blues set to play eight games in 25 days in the run up to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar next month, the veteran defender could be rested for the game against the Brentford tonight ahead of a huge match against Manchester United at the weekend. Potter hinted that he could look to change formations and personnel throughout the busy fixture schedule and he will need every player in his squad to push through until the break next month. The Brazilian defender felt his hamstring in last weekend’s win over Aston Villa but the 38- year-old is understood to be available for selection.
Potter’s tactical system relies on his defenders being confident on the ball and Thiago Silva has proved throughout his career that he is one of the best at doing that. However, the Brazilian only ranks 6th for most progressive passes in the Premier League so far this season with 4.13 per 90 minutes.
Silva’s Chelsea teammate Koulibaly is by far and away the best defender when it comes to playing probing passes out from defence to move his team up the pitch and start attacking moves for the Blues. The 31-year-old plays 5.81 progressive passes per 90 minutes. The statistic shows just how influential Koulibaly can be in defence and after initially being out of favour under Potter, the Senegal international can prove to be a key player under the new manager as the Blues look to continue their unbeaten run.
Whilst Koulibaly does prove to be a key asset in terms of possession and passing out from the back, the rate at which he looks to play out from the back is much lower than Silva. The 31-year-old looks to play more forward passes (32.9) than Silva (29.8) per 90 minutes, via Squawka , but the 38-year-old defender bests his teammate in all other defensive areas apart from clearances with the Brazilian (3.8) just being pipped by Koulibaly who averages 3.9 per 90 minutes.
Potter will be hoping Koulibaly can start to improve other areas of his game to match Silva’s performance level so that Chelsea have a ready- made replacement available when the Brazilian needs to be rested to maintain his fitness.