Graham Potter has underlined the importance of Kalidou Koulibaly in his Chelsea side, praising the defender’s ‘leadership and calmness’ after the win over Leeds United.
The Blues picked up their first league win in six after a 1-0 victory at Stamford Bridge on Saturday with Wesley Fofana heading home the game’s only goal.
The former Leicester City starlet made up a young back line that also included January signing Benoit Badiashile.
With Thiago Silva ruled out for six weeks following a knee ligament injury suffered against Tottenham last week, Koulibably assumed the role as the elder statesman at the back.
The Senegal international has endured a tough first season in England following his summer move from Napoli where his form has been criticised.
But after helping Chelsea keep a clean sheet against Leeds, Potter insisted the centre-half half is an important presence at the back alongside his younger teammates.
‘Sometimes it’s not easy to land and hit the ground. We all want that to happen but it isn’t as straightforward as that,’ Potter told a post-match press conference.
‘There has been a lot of change and transition here but he is a great guy, wants the team to do well, cares a lot, and I thought he helped Wesley and Benoit [Badiashile]. He showed leadership and calmness which was really important for us. So I’m really happy for him.’
Fofana’s goal also ended a 396-minute goal drought and while Chelsea remain in 10th place, Potter believes the victory will serve as a huge lift.
‘We’re delighted with the win, that’s for sure. We’ve had a tough period so I’m delighted for the players and the supporters because they’ve had to suffer,’ he said.
‘It was pleasing to get the win. I thought we started the game well and created some opportunities. Playing against Leeds is always tough because they’re high-intensity.
‘When we got the goal, it was a pleasing moment for us all and in the second half, it was a little us having something to lose.
‘That is where you would expect us to be given the run we’ve had. So in the end, it’s really good for the players to keep a clean sheet, win the game, and to have that feeling. It’s nice.’