2. Son Heung-min vs. Thiago Silva
When you phrase this battle like a one-versus-one duel, it’s a fearsome match-up. Son Heung-min versus Thiago Silva battle for three points in the London Derby. With his rapid incision and supreme finishing, Son is perhaps the worst-case scenario for 36-year-old Silva. He can hurt you from anywhere, and almost certainly will if given half a chance. Luckily, his record against Chelsea isn’t as scary as you might think, with just two goals in 12 games. Further, he’ll likely be without his partner-in-crime, Harry Kane.
Of course, Silva is going to need more than just luck in order to curb the South Korean though. He’s going to need more than just his own faculties, and his defensive partner in this game will say much about Tuchel’s mindset moving forward. A third recurring selection for Antonio Rudiger would confirm the feeling that the German has fully returned to the fold following his compatriot’s installment. A recall of the banished Kurt Zouma would portend to the tactician’s flexibility in the face of varying opposition.
In Silva’s case, the latter may be more appealing. The image of Son spinning Rudiger into a ragged trance is strangely seared into my brain, and Zouma’s pace and recovery is a far more comforting thought. Either way, Silva—who’s a quiet contender for Blues’ player of the season—will once again be tasked with fulcrum duties. How he corrals his colleagues, commands the box and thwarts counter-attacks will be a key factor in Chelsea’s pursuit of victory.