Thomas Tuchel has explained why he is not surprised to see Thiago Silva performing so well as he approaches his 37th birthday and hinted at one player who could come into the team to face Aston Villa.
Following a late start after missing the early stages of pre-season due to competing in the Copa America with Brazil over the summer, the defender came into the starting line-up for our last two Premier League fixtures.
Thiago Silva impressed in both those 3-0 wins, against Aston Villa and Tottenham Hotspur, with his performances making a big contribution to our clean sheets and being named Man of the Match after also scoring the opening goal at Spurs.
None of that has been a surprise for Tuchel, though, as he already knew age was no barrier for a model professional like Thiago Silva after having the Brazilian as his captain during their time together at Paris Saint-Germain.
‘From the first day I met him in Paris, he’s been a fantastic professional,’ said our head coach. ‘He was an outstanding captain and a fantastic person. The approach from him to recovery, to live this life as a professional player, is simply outstanding – what he eats, when he eats, how he recovers, how he trains.
‘When he’s on the pitch he trains full on, there is no training session where he is trying to hold back. He is one of the most intensive guys in training physically. He obviously gets better and better with his experience.
‘To step out of what he knew and his comfort zone with the status he had in Paris, to the hardest competition in Europe, at his age, shows what kind of competitor he is. I don’t look at age, I just look at performances. He has been in a very good moment for a long time and hopefully he can preserve this momentum and his performances because it was well deserved that he was Man of the Match.’
It remains to be seen whether Thiago Silva will continue in the starting line-up for our Carabao Cup fixture against Aston Villa at Stamford Bridge tomorrow, with Tuchel confirming he will rotate his side and discussing the chances of Ruben Loftus-Cheek featuring after playing his first minutes of the season from the bench against Zenit St Petersburg last week.
‘We gave him some minutes against Zenit and that was a close game, it was a Champions League opener for us. We gave him some minutes and that was not a gift, he deserved it. I trust him because I see how he works and he adapts to the situation and he accepts his situation and what he makes out of it, doing very good in training on a daily basis. So tomorrow there is a big chance that he can show it on the pitch.’
However, while he hinted at changes to his side, Tuchel also insisted he will be fielding a strong team with an eye on winning the Carabao Cup.
‘We are serious, we are doing things seriously and when we play a competition we are in it to win it, because this is what we are and what the club demands. We are in the moment in a good place because we work hard and we value the opportunities we have. The group is a strong group in the moment and we have to take care of that every day and keep on going in the same way because we cannot stand still.’
The other subject the German discussed was his habit of making early substitutions during his time at Chelsea, particularly at half-time, given the big impact some of them have made recently, including N’Golo Kante helping us to dominate the second half at Tottenham, in addition to scoring our second goal, after coming on at half-time.
‘It’s a form of trust that you show to the bench, that you have people who can instantly have an impact and change the momentum,’ he explained. ‘It’s not a general thing and we are not waiting for it and looking for the opportunity to do as many early changes as possible. It’s in-game coaching and adapting to what the game offers and what the opponent offers and maybe sometimes about spaces and about tactical choices.
‘In Liverpool it was necessary because of a red card, and then it was a bit unlucky for Saul against Aston Villa and on Sunday we had N’Golo on the bench and it was a little bit like we could have waited, but also if you have N’Golo you want to have him on the pitch. So they are different reasons, we are not waiting for it.
‘When we have the impression that it is the moment to do it to help the team we are not shy to make the decision, but I’m pretty sure there will also come matches where we will make late changes.’