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‘He was sensational!’ – Gary Neville names two positives from Chelsea’s draw with Fulham

  • February 04, 2023
The pundit was very impressed with one Chelsea stalwart in particular (Picture: Sky Sports)

Gary Neville has praised Chelsea’s centre-backs in their goalless draw against Fulham and believes Thiago Silva in particular will be absolutely crucial to the club’s rebuild.

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The Blues were held to a 0-0 draw in Friday night’s west London derby and, in truth, created few chances of note despite fielding a plethora of their new, big-money January recruits.

Although Mykhailo Mudryk and Enzo Fernandez created all the headlines going into the match, Neville felt another recent addition, Benoit Badiashile, was quietly excellent at the back while Silva continues to show his enduring class.

‘The big positives for me were the centre-backs. [Jamie Carragher] has mentioned Badiashile but I thought Thiago Silva was sensational,’ said Neville on Sky Sports afterwards.

‘He just impresses me every time I see him. He’s a world-class player, obviously. He could be so important – he is so important – to them.

‘He has to somehow hold that dressing room together because there’s going to be some very upset, disappointed and dejected characters.

‘We’ve just seen a group of players train here out on the pitch after the game at nearly 11pm at night. They are players, trust me, who want to be playing in the first team, they want minutes on the pitch.

Silva and Badiashile both had very solid matches vs Fulham (Picture: Getty)

‘They don’t want to be training at 11pm at night in an empty stadium, and there’s going to be a lot of that this season for that Chelsea squad.’

Chelsea only had three shots on target in the match – though Kai Havertz did hit the post – and Neville feels the new players will take time to adapt to Graham Potter’s style of football, though he suspects further investment is needed in the summer.

He continued: ‘It was like they never came off line Chelsea at all. It felt like the full-back got the ball for Chelsea, the wide player was in the same line. I never saw any diagonal runs that full-backs hate – I know that you hate that run in behind you, that diagonal run.

‘It just felt to me like everything was really basic from Chelsea and I think that’s just purely the fact that Graham Potter hasn’t had time to work with them and he hasn’t had that time to develop the next stage of the piece of the work. But he’s gonna need some time here!

‘The problem is, you look at Chelsea’s front three – they played two front threes tonight, the one that started and the one that came on – and I thought, “That needs to improve”. The midfield three I thought, “That needs to improve”.

‘So even though they’ve spent £600million, I looked at every department of the team and thought they still needed to get a lot better. I don’t know if that’s a worry or that will just come in time. Not that impressed but it’s going to take a lot of time for those players to settle in, it’s far too early to judge them I suspect.’

MORE : Graham Potter rates Enzo Fernandez’s performance in Chelsea debut against Fulham

MORE : Graham Potter explains Mykhailo Mudryk substitution after Gary Neville questioned decision

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