How Rudiger and Thiago Silva can join an elite band this weekend

After scoring in our 3-0 win at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in September, Thiago Silva and Toni Rudiger have the opportunity in Sunday’s return match to do something very few Blues defenders have achieved…

Although those at the back are, first and foremost, in the team to stop the opposition sticking the ball in the back of the net, it is always a welcome boost when they pop up at the other end with the odd vital strike.

We have been lucky enough to have had plenty of players do that consistently over the years, including John Terry, who is the Premier League’s all-time leading scorer among defenders – despite the league’s website putting Ashley Young, who spent the vast majority of his career as an attacking midfielder, at the top of that list.

However, one thing JT never managed to do on his way to a tally of 41 goals was to score home and away against the same opponent in one Premier League season. Nor has Marcos Alonso, another high-scoring defender – if you consider wing-back to be a defensive position, that is – during his Blues career.

In fact, only five Chelsea players have achieved it, although Thiago Silva and Rudiger can join them should either of them find the back of the net on Sunday.

Frank Leboeuf

The first to do so was Frank Leboeuf, who actually achieved the feat in each of his first two seasons as a Chelsea player. It should not come as a huge surprise to those who remember the French centre-half, as he was the Blues’ chief penalty taker throughout his five years in west London and if you take a look on YouTube you can find evidence of him scoring a hat-trick for Strasbourg before he moved to the Premier League.

In his first campaign as a Blue, Leboeuf scored home and away against Derby County – and, due to the strange scheduling, the goals were only a month-and-a-half apart. He scored the winner at the Bridge from the penalty spot in a 3-1 victory that is perhaps better remembered for young midfielder Paul Hughes scoring on his debut.

Then, at the start of March, Leboeuf was on target again early in the second half to put us ahead at the Baseball Ground, which is where the Rams played before they moved to Pride Park. Alas, it was not a day for Frank to look back on fondly, as he didn’t just fancy himself as a goalscorer – he also tried his hand at goalkeeping, earning him a red card only seven minutes later.

The following season, he repeated the home-and-away act against Sheffield Wednesday, although it was in far less eventful circumstances. He scored a penalty in both games against the Owls that term as we did the double over them.

Branislav Ivanovic

It was not until the 2010/11 season that another Chelsea defender managed to replicate Leboeuf, and once again it was a player who would go on to do it twice. It was rather appropriate that the man to do so was someone introduced before matches at the Bridge as ‘Two-Goal’ Branislav Ivanovic for most of his time at the club, after scoring a brace at Anfield. The former Serbia captain is best remembered for his goals on the European stage, but he was also touching the top 10 most prolific Premier League defenders.

Blackburn Rovers were on the receiving end of Branner goals twice in 2010/11, as he scored for the first time in the best part of a year to secure a hard-fought win at Ewood Park.

Then, in the corresponding fixture at the Bridge, it was Ivanovic who opened the scoring by somehow squeezing a shot past several players and Paul Robinson, before Nicolas Anelka – who had also netted at Ewood Park – made the game safe.

Ivanovic was at the double again in 2014/15, this time against another Lancashire club. We began our journey towards a fourth Premier League title by beating Burnley at Turf Moor, coming from behind to beat the Clarets. Everyone remembers Andre Schurrle finishing off a fabulous team move, but Ivanovic was also on target with a smart strike from Cesc Fabregas’s corner.

Likewise, the return match in west London brings back memories of Nemanja Matic seeing red the week before the League Cup final, but it was his compatriot who found the back of the net to help us to a draw against the Clarets.

Cesar Azpilicueta

While Leboeuf and Ivanovic would be obvious contenders for this list, the next man to achieve it is perhaps a little more surprising. Cesar Azpilicueta averages less than a goal per Premier League season that he has spent with the club, and he had been with us for more than three years when he finally opened his account in the competition.

West Bromwich Albion were on the receiving end, during a game early in the 2015/16 season at the Hawthorns which featured three Spanish international scorers for the Blues in a 3-2 victory. Clearly, Azpi enjoyed the feeling of scoring against West Brom so much that he promptly went and did it again in our very next meeting at the Bridge. This time, however, his tidy finish at the back came in a 2-2 draw.

Gary Cahill

The unique defensive feat was achieved for a third straight season in 2016/17, and it was another stalwart who achieved it. Gary Cahill left relegation threatened Bolton for Chelsea in 2012 and went on to win it all, and this term he was at the peak of his powers as part of a back three that played a huge role in leading us to Premier League glory.

Defensive solidity was the base for that triumph, but Gaz, who wore the captain’s armband for much of the season with JT out of the side, continued his happy knack of popping up with vital strikes. Only three defenders have more Premier League goals to their name than him, with Terry the only centre-half to do so.

Stoke City were on the receiving end in both matches that season, the first of which was a header in a 4-2 victory that was the perfect end to 2016, as it was our 13th win in a row in the top flight, which is a club record.

Things were not going quite as smoothly in the return match at the Bet365 Stadium, when he conceded a penalty, and we were heading for what could have been a costly draw before he produced a finish that most strikers would have been proud of to secure a vital win. Come the end of the season he was there alongside JT lifting the Premier League trophy.

Kurt Zouma

The last man on the list is a recently departed Blue, as it is the popular Kurt Zouma, who finally fulfilled his undoubted attacking potential last term with the best return of his career to date.

With his quality in the air, the French centre-half should have guaranteed a handy tally each season, but he had netted only once in the Premier League prior to the start of the 2020/21 campaign. Suddenly, he became a scoring machine, netting four times in his first 10 appearances of the season, one of which was a bullet header against Crystal Palace.

He went quiet again for a little while after, before waiting for the return match at Selhurst Park to get back on track. Once again it was a header in another Chelsea victory, and it took him into double figures for the club in all competitions.

So, will Thiago Silva and Rudiger add their names to this exclusive club on Sunday afternoon against Tottenham Hotspur? Tune in to find out.

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