There’s only one possible explanation of how an inspired Brentford failed to score tonight against a frail Chelsea backline — Edouard Mendy. The Senegalese goalkeeper inspired the Blues to a nervy 1-0 victory over the newly-promoted side with a string of stunning saves on Saturday.
After conceding just before the half-time break to a sublime volley from Ben Chilwell, throughout the second half, Thomas Frank’s side went hammer and tongs at it, yet failed to breach Mendy’s Captain America-like shield.
The shot-stopper conjured at least five saves from inside the box, the best coming off Christian Norgaard’s overhead kick, either side of Bryan Mbeumo twice hitting the post for the luckless hosts. Norgaard also saw an effort cleared off the line by Trevoh Chalobah as Chelsea refused to break despite some desperate defending.
Meanwhile, Ruben Loftus-Cheek continued his resurgence with another powerful midfield performance. Malang Sarr had an assured Premier League debut as he stepped in under intense pressure as a replacement for Antonio Rudiger and with Brazil centre-back Thiago Silva also missing after returning late from international duty.
Chelsea’s continued experiment with 3-5-2 came up short again in a staccato first half, where the visitors struggled to break down Brentford.
Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel’s latest tactical ruse of pushing Mateo Kovacic and N’Golo Kante into wider areas failed to pay dividends.
Brentford spent much of the half comfortable, prompting their supporters to sing toward Chelsea’s fans: “Champions of Europe, you’re having a laugh.” Mbeumo hit the woodwork with the former Rennes keeper for once beaten, so nearly capping a fluent home move.
Club-record signing Romelu Lukaku’s goal drought for Chelsea stretched to six matches and his fledgling strike partnership with Timo Werner will require time to develop on this evidence.
Chelsea started to settle and to find Werner in space on the left flank. But even when the forward created havoc and looked to have laid on the opener, Lukaku found himself offside when tapping into the empty net.
Chelsea’s creeping dominance eventually told, though, when Chilwell punished a poor Brentford clearance.
The Bees failed to clear a hanging cross with Lukaku making a nuisance of himself in the area, and the England left-back crashed home a finish.
Chilwell’s sweet strike again underlined his fine technique going front. The 24-year-old has scored in three straight games, also netting for England last week. In the post-match conference, Chilwell gave all the credit for the victory to Mendy. “We’ve got Edu to thank, he’s getting the credit he deserves,” he said.
With inputs from the Associated Press