LONDON • Many critics had questioned Frank Lampard’s judgment in picking up Thiago Silva on a free transfer from last season’s Champions League finalists Paris Saint-Germain in the summer.
The defender, 36, was presumed to be too slow for the Premier League.
However, Chelsea have kept five consecutive clean sheets in all competitions – thanks to their improving backline marshalled by Silva.
Given the congested fixture list due to the coronavirus pandemic, Lampard has been keen to wrap Silva in cotton wool so as to keep him fresh for top-flight action.
The Brazilian was rested for last week’s Champions League win against Krasnodar and was taken off early in this week’s victory over Rennes.
His performances have not gone unnoticed – he was named yesterday among seven others for October’s Premier League Player of the Month award – and Lampard is delighted his decision to plump for experience is paying off.
“His English is improving, particularly his words on the pitch. His influence is clear. He trains well, prepares well and it’s very obvious with him why he has had the career so far,” Lampard said at his virtual pre-match press conference ahead of today’s home game with Sheffield United.
“We’ve made changes in personnel. Thiago Silva is a player who brings an attitude that’s infectious. The players are growing… It’s a process and a test to see where we are tomorrow.
“There’s always different parts to it. Individuals have made good performances in that period. The collective is reflection of that. It’s driven by the players, always will be. We must never relax.”
TalkSport presenter Adrian Durham agreed with Lampard, comparing Silva’s influence to that of Virgil van Dijk at Liverpool.
“Thiago Silva, in a very different way, is Chelsea’s van Dijk,” he said yesterday. “It is because of the leadership skills, they look up to him, don’t they?
“If he stays fit and (goalkeeper Edouard) Mendy stays fit, I think they’ve got a very, very good chance of winning the title.”
Having earned just one point from seven games, the 19th-placed Blades are suffering from a case of second-season syndrome, but Lampard warned his side that they can pose “a big challenge” if they let their guard down.
“They are an amazing team, an incredible manager,” he added. “They are still a great team. A very tough match.”
Lampard will be without midfielder Kai Havertz, who is isolating after catching Covid-19 earlier this week, while Christian Pulisic is out through injury.
CHELSEA V SHEFFIELD UNITED
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