Thiago Silva will miss five to six weeks with a knee injury, dealing Chelsea a blow just as they thought things couldn’t get much worse. Silva has been Chelsea’s most vital defender this year despite being 38 years old. The Blues have been able to maintain six clean sheets with the Brazilian in the squad, which has allowed them to remain competitive even while Graham Potter’s side continues to struggle offensively.
Silva’s significance for a Chelsea team that lacks balance extends beyond the field as he also assumes a position as one of the club leaders.
According to a statement from the team, “Thiago received further testing and a scan on his return to the training center on Monday” after suffering a knee injury during the first half of Sunday’s game against Tottenham Hotspur. Thiago will now work closely with the club’s medical staff during his rehabilitation to return to competition as soon as possible. “Scan results from those assessments have indicated damage to Thiago’s knee ligaments.”
How will Potter and the club reverse their downward trend without Silva? The fact that the injury occurred during what is turning out to be a lost season for Chelsea may serve as a silver lining since this is something that they would need to figure out sooner or later given his age. Chelsea is currently tenth in the Premier League and 14 points behind Tottenham after their weekend setback, but they do have depth at center defense.
Here are their options to cope with his loss:
Wesley Fofana is on the comeback trail
Since joining Chelsea from Leicester City in 2022, Fofana has only made six appearances for the team. He was a defender who was simple to forget was a member of the Chelsea team. His reduced playing time is a result of a knee injury and a setback in his attempt to regain his previous level of conditioning. Fofana would be the most probable teammate to take Silva’s place, having played off the bench in Chelsea’s most recent games. The Frenchman is at ease with the ball and isn’t hesitant to dive into tackles, but it will be crucial for him to demonstrate that he is completely fit. It’s challenging to return after being away for so long, but he will have help from Benoit Badishile and Kalidou Koulibaly. Potter might decide not to use Fofana in a back three due to a lack of depth, but if he does, Fofana is at ease in that set up.
Koulibaly can help with the leadership void
Koulibaly has started to demonstrate why Chelsea desired him because of his international experience and success with Senegal in a significant competition. This will help the backline. With a new teammate, things will be different since Silva has an unrivaled sense of space, but Koulibaliy’s supremacy in the air ensures that his partners in central defense have less territory to cover. Fofana’s mobility as a defender will still compensate for Koulibaly’s occasionally inconsistent pace. Options are even more limited because Badiashile isn’t eligible to play in the Champions League and there isn’t enough room on the roster as it is.
The rest of the squad
Trevoh Chalobah and Badiashile are mobility options if Potter wants to press the pace, but when Chelsea aren’t capitalizing on their attacking opportunities, it’s challenging to defend with on-the-ball defenders when attackers mishandle the ball and leave them open to counterattacks. The two are both skilled at what they do, but a back three or when Chelsea’s attackers are more assured work best. Badiashile’s long passes from deep can be crucial for breaking down defenses if Potter can get things moving again, but when Chelsea have lost their fear factor, it just results in the squad crumbling under pressure.