Two veteran centre-backs enjoying excellent seasons at the heart of their respective west London club’s defence are the focus of our latest head-to-head feature before Chelsea take on Fulham tonight…

At 38 and 35, many might have expected Thiago Silva and Tim Ream’s best days to be behind them, yet that has proven far from the reality during the current campaign. Thiago has been arguably the Blues’ standout performer, while Ream has proven a vital cog in Marco Silva’s side’s impressive rise to seventh in the Premier League table.

Thiago has played in 18 of our 20 league fixtures to date, with Ream yet to miss a minute of Fulham’s 21 games so far. In total he has around 250 more minutes of action to his name, worth bearing in mind when we compare their figures to date.

Brilliant at the back

Let’s start with the defensive data. Thiago has won 18 tackles to Ream’s 11 at a marginally better success rate, 60 per cent to 55 per cent. The league’s top tackler by some distance is Fulham midfielder Joao Palhinha, suggesting he is putting out a lot of fires before Ream has to get involved.

The anticipation and timing of Thiago’s tackling has earned even more widespread praise than usual this season, although the Brazilian’s reading of the game means he doesn’t contest a ground duel unless absolutely necessary.

Both Thiago and Ream rank very highly across the entire league for interceptions, clearances and blocks. For the latter category, our man ranks joint-third with 20, while Ream isn’t far behind in eighth with 17.

The American is fractionally ahead of Thiago when it comes to interceptions, with 29 to his 26, although per 90 they sit almost identically. Both players rank in the top 20 in the league there.

It’s a similar story with clearances. Thiago has made 80, putting him eighth across the board, and Ream, with 68, is a bit further behind in 17th.

Quite simply, there can be no doubting the vital impact both are having in the defensive third.

Confident and controlled on the ball

Both Chelsea and Fulham are comfortable playing out from the back, but with Aleksandar Mitrovic leading the Cottagers’ line they are more likely to go direct when needed. That is reflected in Thiago and Ream’s pass accuracy in the opposition half, with Thiago (82 per cent) well clear of Ream (74 per cent).

Overall they are pretty evenly matched when it comes to finding a team-mate, however. Thiago does 90 per cent of the time, and Ream with 87 per cent of his passes.

Their total number of completed passes puts them in the top 10 in the Premier League this season, Thiago sitting third and the Fulham skipper ninth.

Picking their moments

Ream has yet to set up a chance whereas Thiago has done so four times, two of which ended with the ball in the net. Ream has scored once this season, though, with Thiago still waiting to open his account despite having gone very close in our past two fixtures.

Ream is more comfortably carrying the ball past opponents, completing six successful dribbles to Thiago’s two.

Despite the competitive area of the pitch in which they operate, Thiago (seven) and Ream (10) have conceded just 17 fouls between them, earning them one and two yellow cards respectively, testament to the savviness and tactical acumen with which they play the game.