‘Rolls Royce’ defender Thiago Silva won the game for Chelsea and showed why he is Thomas Tuchel’s go-to guy for the biggest games… but Tottenham’s Cristian Romero had a baptism of fire
- Thiago Silva put Chelsea on course for a victory with 49th minute header
- The 37-year-old was also a beacon of composure and quality in Blues defence
- Cristian Romero given a brutal crash course in the brutal nuances of this derby
Amid the chaos – and sadness – Thiago Silva stood completely unruffled. Calmest personified, the Chelsea defender navigated through the bedlam that is Tottenham versus Chelsea without barely breaking into a sweat.
It’s crazy to think that Silva turns 37 on Wednesday. Here, the Brazilian won the game for his team.
Not just because of the header that put Chelsea on course for a victory that bolstered their title credentials – his performance here was so much more than that.
Chelsea defender Thiago Silva celebrates scoring the first goal against Tottenham
When those around him appeared to be getting caught up in the emotion of the occasion, tragically amplified by the news of Jimmy Greaves’ sad passing, Silva was a beacon of composure and quality.
But while Silva was running the show, another South American central defender was given a brutal crash course in the brutal nuances of this unique London derby.
This was some baptism of fire for Cristian Romero. The £42million summer arrival – along with Davinson Sanchez and Giovani Lo Celso – only arrived back in England on Saturday following a planned training camp in Croatia to ensure the trio could avoid a 10-day quarantine following the international break.
Thiago Silva headed past Hugo Lloris from Marcos Alonso’s corner in the 49th minute
Romero had played just one minute of Premier League football heading into this. By the end, he was probably wishing he was still in Croatia.
It’d be wholly unfair to judge Romero on this, of course. Indeed, he showed enough in the first-half to indicate he will be a success for Tottenham.
But he is certainly one for the future; unlike Silva – who is unquestionably for the here and now.
There was a sequence of play in the first-half when the ball was in air for what seemed an eternity – that was until Silva intervened, playing a beautiful first-time pass into a team-mate to set Chelsea away for an attack.
The 37-year-old showed why he is Thomas Tuchel’s go-to guy for the biggest games
He’s lost none of his famed defensive instincts either, an expertly timed challenge to deny Dele Alli what would have been a certain equaliser had Chelsea supporters in raptures.
All this from a player that didn’t cost the club a penny in transfer fees following his arrival from Paris Saint Germain ahead of last season.
The only regret for Chelsea is that Silva turns 37, not 27, this week. Yet, judging by this vintage display the defender still has plenty in the tank.
Having reached his personal holy grail of lifting the Champions League last season; you wondered where the motivation may come from for a man who has won it all.
Tottenham defender Cristian Romero had a baptism of fire in Sunday’s London derby
Judging by this performance, Silva’s ambition still burns fiercely as ever. That bodes well for a Chelsea, a team who look every inch title contenders.
Thomas Tuchel will wrap Silva up in cotton wool. He won’t play every game, indeed this was only his second start for Chelsea this season.
Tuchel will taper his workload in training, too. And so he should; the Chelsea manager must do whatever it takes to get Silva on the pitch as much as possible.
Tuchel will cherry-pick which games to deploy his Rolls Royce of a defender. But what is clear, in the very biggest games, Silva will continue to be be Tuchel’s go-to guy.