Thiago Silva’s first season in English football has been a hectic and gruelling one but none of the challenges have surprised the Brazilian as he seeks to add two new trophies to a glittering career…
Adapting to the rigours of the Premier League is testing even for a player in their prime so one can only imagine the physical discipline and mental strength required for a veteran of 36 making the move to England’s top flight.
Throw into the equation the fact this has been the most convoluted and congested campaign in memory and you can start to appreciate just how well Thiago Silva has done to feature so prominently for Chelsea this term.
If he is involved against Arsenal at Stamford Bridge tonight, it will be his 30th appearance of the season, emphasising the defender’s importance to a side pushing to secure a top-four finish as well as get their hands on FA Cup and Champions League silverware.
‘It’s exhausting that every three days you have to perform great and play to such a high standard,’ he admitted in the build-up to our final London derby of 2020/21.
‘The intensity in the Premier League is really high so it always takes a lot out of you but we’re trying to adapt to the situation the pandemic has brought.’
While Thiago Silva has not been surprised at the relentless nature of the English football schedule, he was expecting a slightly different, more direct style of football in the Premier League.
He credits the import of foreign coaches with new ideas for changing the mindset on these shores but also pinpoints the speed and physicality of the league as particularly unique.
‘In my head, the majority of the teams played a long ball game, always kicking it long,’ he continued. ‘That’s the idea I had in my head in the past but when I came here I saw that teams try to play.
‘I think Pep Guardiola has brought well-played football along with him and changed this aspect in other coaches. I saw teams which, while being less prominent than Manchester City or Chelsea, were teams that liked to play good football.
‘There are teams now in the top five or six of the Premier League, like West Ham and Leicester, who are teams that play proper football and like to do so. That surprised me in a good way but still, in terms of intensity, it’s one of the most intense leagues in the world.’
As an eight-time domestic title winner, Thiago Silva is not one to be content at missing out on the top prize but he acknowledges the importance of finishing in the Premier League’s top four and thereby securing qualification for next season’s Champions League.
A win tonight at the Bridge would take us nine points clear of the chasing pack and leave very little margin for error from our rivals, while entirely extinguishing Tottenham’s hopes of finishing above us. Subsequent attention in the final fortnight of the season then switches to collecting trophies, something our number six knows plenty about.
‘I always strive to win,’ he added. ‘I work hard to win but things have turned out in a way where we’ve come to the end of the season and we’re fighting for other trophies instead of the title.
‘The new coach [Thomas Tuchel] came in when we were in a tough position and he changed things here and there so things started to work in the way he set out. We’re obviously far behind Manchester United and Manchester City but we’re happy to be near the top and to have a chance of being in the Champions League next season.
‘Now we have the derby against Arsenal, then it’s the FA Cup final against Leicester, then another game against them in the league. It’s like two Champions League games every week but I think our team is more than ready for these games.’