Chelsea’s 0-0 draw against Sevilla was the polar opposite of their performance in the 3-3 draw against Southampton.
Against the Spaniards, Chelsea looked assured, composed and in control from a defensive point of view.
While the attack didn’t function quite like against the Saints, Frank Lampard was delighted with the clean sheet. Chelsea limited Sevilla to 0.26 xG, demonstrable evidence of their organised defence.
Edouard Mendy’s fitness was a huge plus for Chelsea. After yet another horror show from Kepa Arrizabalaga against Southampton, Lampard was delighted to recall his £22m goalkeeper.
He only needed to make two saves against Sevilla but his calming influence was evident. For somebody lacking in top-level experience, Mendy looked very assured and appeared to have the trust of his back four.
It was a similar story on Mendy’s Premier League debut against Crystal Palace. Although Mendy did not need to make a save, his presence itself was a calming influence on those in front of him.
Against Tottenham in the League Cup, Mendy was again only required to make two saves. However, two crosses claimed and an 80% pass completion rate highlighted some of the Frenchman’s other qualities. Assured in the air and a competent passer, Mendy has already asserted himself as Frank Lampard’s number one between the sticks.
Having had a season and more of calamity from Kepa, Chelsea fans can hope to gain some confidence in their new number one. Mendy’s save percentage of 78.4% in 2019/20 dwarfs that of his new teammate, which was a pathetic 54.5%. The arrival from Rennes cannot be worse than Kepa, however, his start to his Chelsea career has been positive.
While Mendy arrived to Chelsea as an unknown quantity, the pedigree of Thiago Silva was indisputable. Captain of PSG and Brazil, the 36-year-old arrived with a wealth of experience despite the question marks over his age.
Despite making a glaring error on his Premier League debut at West Brom, there is already an extra comfort upon seeing Silva at the heart of defence.
Against Sevilla, Silva’s class was evident. He made one tackle and three clearances against the Europa League holders with an impressive passing accuracy of 90%. Statistics, however, do not show the calm nature of his performance. Unflustered despite playing for a new team which has conceded plenty of goals, Brazil’s captain marshalled the whole team with a calming authority.
It was a similar story against Crystal Palace, with Silva making four clearances, blocking one shot and making two interceptions. The ability to sense danger has been a key criticism of Chelsea’s defenders but Silva is a player who puts out fires before they start.
The season ahead
Despite Chelsea’s immeasurable attacking talent, there is an argument for Mendy and Silva to be Chelsea’s key man this season. In the two games in which they have featured together, the Blues have kept their only two clean sheets so far.
This statistic is evidence of the calming influence which Lampard’s two new signings have given a defence bereft of confidence.
Edouard Mendy and Thiago Silva were probably the least high profile of Chelsea’s six summer signings.
While attackers such as Kai Havertz, Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech stole many headlines, these two defensive reinforcements could provide the injection of quality and calmness that Frank Lampard so desperately desires from his Chelsea defence.
If this is maintained, then Chelsea’s season should prove positive. If not, then Lampard is surely going to come under scrutiny for his transfers this summer.