What Thiago Silva did to inspire Chelsea comeback as Raheem Sterling embarrasses Jeremy Doku
There have been few matches like that against Manchester City in recent seasons at Stamford Bridge. Few games that have excited and inspired and connected supporters and the team in the manner of the four-all draw.
While Chelsea sit nine places and 12 points behind their Premier League rivals, they were every bit the match of Pep Guardiola’s side on Sunday afternoon as they came back from behind three times across the 90 minutes. In the end, Mauricio Pochettino was even furious that his team were denied a final chance through Raheem Sterling when Anthony Taylor blew the final whistle.
football.london takes a look at the talking points to arise from the draw.
Raheem Sterling is very good
As each week passes it feels easy to talk about another good Raheem Sterling performance. The winger once again responded emphatically to being left out of the England squad and showed both side’s of his game.
The 28-year-old has had plenty of success beating his opposing defender through his acceleration and had to adjust slightly against Kyle Walker’s speed. His movement became more precise and as a result he showed his ability to arrive in the box at the right time to finish Reece James’ cross and to find alternative avenues to carry the ball into the box.
Sterling drew more fouls and completed more dribbles than his teammates, and took the time to nutmeg Jeremy Doku to hammer home the point he still has plenty to offer as his Manchester City counterpart was largely snuffed out by Reece James.
In a familiar pattern, Sterling was in contention for the best performer on the pitch once again, with another usual suspect in Conor Gallagher perhaps being his prime competition.
There’s a demand to deliver, rightly so given his transfer fee and salary. He was bought to be the difference-maker. Some have questioned that his contributions have come against weaker foes, but in performances against Tottenham and Man City he has proved a menace. Hopefully he can sustain that.
Thiago Silva’s mixed day
The Brazilian veteran continues to bewilder as the Premier League’s Benjamin Button. His ability to take a long-range pass down on his chest before playing out from the back may be unparallelled, and the consumate ease he often reads the game with always impressive.
On Sunday he took responsibility. Chelsea felt unjustly punished when Erling Haaland scored his penalty, and Silva looked to capture that indignation and claimed the ball in his arms and quickly looked to get it back in the centre circle for the Blues to utilise the fire clearly present in the stadium.
The 39-year-old led the fight himself and found space at the near post to head Chelsea level. In doing so, he became the west London side’s oldest ever goalscorer. Only Teddy Sheringham, Dean Windass and Ryan Giggs have scored Premier League goals at an older age than Silva.
Unfortunately, it was not all positive for Silva who appeared to misread the flight of the ball when Manuel Akanji levelled the scores in first half stoppage time. Of course, the City defender should not have been as free as he was, with Enzo Fernandez having left his man earlier in the player at Chelsea tried to push out. Even more brutally, Chelsea’s fourth goal deflected off of the former PSG and AC Milan star to hand the visitors a late lead.
Nevertheless, Silva proved a leader on the pitchy, and a useful conduit for Pochettino’s messages, with the pair sharing a lengthy coversation moments before the restart. His position will come under greater scrutiny with Benoit Badiashile waiting in the wings, but he judged the temperature well on Sunday to ensure the Blues could take advantage.
His message following the game was simple, and something hopefully that Chelsea’s young squad can buy into. He said: “Fight until the end. This is CHELSEA”.