21 October 2020 10:37
There was a little moment at the end of Chelsea's draw with Sevilla when Edouard Mendy appeared to be considering playing a short pass out from the back. Just as the goalkeeper prepared to take the goal kick, Thiago Silva turned around and gave him a little glance. It was a look that said: "Not now, Edouard," and Mendy promptly booted the ball upfield instead. It was hardly a game-changing decision but, in a match short of excitement, it provided a little glimpse into the workings of the Chelsea backline when the experienced, streetwise Silva is stationed at the heart of it. In the two matches Silva and Mendy have started together, Chelsea have kept two clean sheets.
This is clearly no coincidence. Silva's leadership qualities have been the source of plenty of discussion since he joined the club this summer, not least when his Premier League debut at West Bromwich Albion ended in a chaotic 3-3 draw. But with Mendy behind him, the early signs are encouraging as Frank Lampard attempts to solve the various defensive problems that have plagued Chelsea under his management. Against strong opponents, Chelsea displayed none of the defensive nervousness that defined their 3-3 draw with Southampton at the weekend. The return of Mendy in place of Kepa Arrizabalaga had a significant impact on this, but there were also assured performances from Kurt Zouma and the excellent Ben Chilwell. "The important thing is the clean sheet," Chilwell told BT Sport after the game. "We knew people would be looking at us after conceding three goals at the weekend. We were solid defensively against a good team and didn't give them many chances."