Kilman sets the standard

In October 2014, a London Senior Cup fixture saw a young unknown teenager have his first appearance for Welling United against Cockfosters. This would be his only appearance for the club.

After a spell at Maidenhead United and a spell on loan at Marlow, this same player would put in a man of the match performance in a Premier League game. That man is Maximilian Kilman.

A performance that many did not expect

Prior to the start of the game, the lineups were announced. With Wolves having plenty of options now at the back with Marcal, Rayan Ait-Nouri and Ki-Jana Hoever, it was the name Kilman at centre-back which was greeted with the most scepticism by the old gold following.

After a solid performance against Fulham, the ex-futsal player was chosen again by Wolves boss Nuno-Espirito Santo. With a lot of media coverage highlighting the attacking, free-flowing football of Leeds United, nobody really thought to highlight Kilman, who would go on to give an exceptional defensive display. 

Leeds averaged around 68% of possession over the course of the match, with a total of 13 shots. This would suggest an onslaught on the Wolves defence, which for the first half, was very much true.

Yet, Rui Patricio hardly had to make a save in between the sticks for Wolves. This was down to the solid performances of Kilman and his counterparts. 

The stats behind a solid defensive display

The men in white were restricted to only half-chances, with Kilman being instrumental in ensuring this. He made the most clearances of all the players with 5, with them being carried out in a such a cool, calm and collected manner. He was able to spot danger and rid the defence of danger effortlessly.

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He also was responsible for regaining possession a total of 8 times, which was vital to preventing Leeds from creating opportunities in the final third. What was more impressive was that he won 100% of his duels against the United players.

He even had an assist to his name, playing the ball into Raul Jimenez, who then went on to score, albeit from a deflection. Whenever Wolves were struggling and needed that vital interception to help ease the pressure, it was normally the 6ft 4 centre-back that provided it.

Standing out amongst his teammates

The only weak part of the Wolves defence came from the right side, with Nelson Semedo being caught out of position numerous times. There were solid displays from Willy Boly, Romain Saiss and an exceptional display from Conor Coady.

Yet still, it was Kilman that stood out as the best player on the night. It was interesting to note that Saiss was used as a left wing-back, instead of his usual place next to Coady.

With Kilman filling this spot, is this a sign that Nuno prefers the rookie to the Moroccon? With many Wolves fans unsure of his place in the side before the game, there can be no question of his inclusion in the side against Newcastle United on Sunday.

It would also be fair to say now that Kilman deserves to be seen as a recognised Premier League defender, rather than just an ex-futsal player. At the age of only 23, there will be much more to come from him and he may even go on to play a vital role in any success Wolves have in the near future.

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