Chelsea have seen their lead at the top of the Premier League completely eroded and drifted six points further behind after a run of three wins in their last eight games.
The Blues were riding the crest of a wave after the 4-0 tonking of Juventus in the Champions League at Stamford Bridge, without the injured Romelu Lukaku as well, and everything was looking rosy for Thomas Tuchel and his band of Chelsea men.
Fast forward almost a month and the picture is somewhat different with the 0-0 draw against Wolves at a foggy and murky Molineux, amid the backdrop of a sharp rise in Covid-19 cases at the club, leaving the Blues the same points behind City as they are ahead of fourth-place Arsenal.
Chelsea’s previously impenetrable defence had also dropped off, leaking three goals to West Ham, three to Zenit St Petersburg in the Champions League, two to Leeds and one each to Man Utd, Watford and Everton.
Chelsea threw away the lead four times in two games and were conceding big chances left, right and centre as, for the first time under his leadership, there were signs of fallacy under Tuchel.
There has been, however, one source of constant greatness and brilliance among all of Chelsea’s recent issues – Thiago Silva.
The Brazilian defender has played far more than Tuchel will have wanted, 19 times in all competitions so far this season and was needed to help calm things down when the Blues were being bullied and ran roughshod over by Watford.
There is a strong argument that Silva could be up there with one of the best free transfers ever made in the Premier League when Chelsea took him from Paris St Germain in the summer of 2019.
The Blues extended his contract for another year after the Blues’ Champions League success in May and there have been murmurs the club could add another year on after this one as well.
“He is happy to do so,” the head coach said.
“He plays in a protected role in the middle of a back three so he is not exposed to the maximum intensity of the match.
“That suits him and he is a good fit so still, of course, the problem starts with injuries and Covid in the same positions.”
Chelsea’s defensive strength and resolve may have dropped off in recent weeks but Silva hasn’t. He is earning an average rating of 7.30 with WhoScored and has the third most blocks in the top flight (18).
Per FBRef, he barely gives the ball away as he has a 93% pass accuracy this season, has made 19 tackles and on 12 of those occasions, Chelsea have kept possession. He’s made 32 blocks this season, 18 of them coming from shots on Chelsea’s goal.
His positional awareness has been second to none in recent weeks and you only have to look at the way he shackled and sniffed out any danger presented by Wolves substitute Adama Traore in the final 15 minutes of the draw at Molineux on Sunday.
Back in October, Silva told Globo Esporte how much he was enjoying playing for Chelsea and Tuchel as he continues to play at a world class level ahead of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
“Of course, today I don’t have the same explosion that I had at Fluminense, but there are things I didn’t have at the beginning and today I have a lot, which is the experience,” he said.
“You cut a lot of paths, you can read a lot of things before they happen. Back then I ran, but I didn’t think. Today I run less and think more, you know? I’m 37 years old, playing in one of the top leagues in the world, in one of the biggest clubs, at a high level.
“This, somehow, makes me very proud. Saying ‘Thiago, you love what you do, you deserve everything you have because you are dedicated and do it out of love’.”
Chelsea fans certainly love Thiago Silva and you’d be hard-pressed to find one who wouldn’t like to see the Brazilian captain have one final year at Stamford Bridge in 202/23.