Football Features

“It was pretty much hell on earth” – The good, the bad and the ugly from Brentford 0-1 Chelsea

By Muhammad Butt

Published: 19:58, 16 October 2021

In a phenomenally entertaining night of football, Chelsea survived a late onslaught to beat Brentford 0-1.

The Blues opened the game nicely and took the lead just before half-time, but that was only half the story. Find out the good, the bad and the ugly from the Blues’ big win that takes them top of the league again.

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The Good: Edouard Mendy

Sorry Ben Chilwell. Your game-winning goal was really impressive. It was incredible, in fact. Striking a falling ball to rocket it into the back of the net. But here’s the thing, it wouldn’t have counted for anything were it not for Edouard Mendy.

The Chelsea goalkeeper has been the best stopper of the season so far and showed his quality time and time again on Saturday night. In that last 20 minutes Brentford were assaulting the Chelsea goal, out-shooting the Blues 12-1 and hitting 6 of those on target including a spectacular Christian Norgaard overhead kick in stoppage time. Yet every single time, Mendy appeared as if from nowhere, an apparition increasing in size every second and enveloping all space and time.

Nothing Brentford did phased him, nothing scared him nor surprised him. He knew where every attack was going, he knew what the shot selection was going to be, and he had the right save needed to stop it. He was like The Terminator cycling through options at lightning speed, picking the right one every single time. It’s impossible to explain how colossal Mendy was, especially in the white hot atmosphere in the Brentford Community Stadium and for a Chelsea team missing their best defender.

Yes Chilwell scored, and it was supreme, but without Mendy the Blues would have lost this game by at least two or three goals and that isn’t even an exaggeration. Mendy was that good.

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The Bad: Chelsea’s defensive structure

As much as we have to praise Edouard Mendy, that he had to bail his team out so often and so spectacularly was a huge indictment of Chelsea’s defensive structure, which is usually so rigid but today was soft and permeable. Brentford found it so easy to find space in the Chelsea box, make passes and get shots off. Bryan Mbeumo hit the post twice!

“We were not clear enough in the challenges,” said Thomas Tuchel post-match, clearly signalling his frustration with the way the Blues’ defence panicked and didn’t do enough to protect their goal. “We focus too much on defending,” he added, which is true but also bizarre because he himself took off Romelu Lukaku and thus removed is team’s out-ball.

“It was pretty much hell on earth,” said Ben Chilwell after the game, summing up how brutal it was. But the fires of hell can forge the fiercest of players. So even as Thomas Tuchel must lament his team’s awful defensive structure at the end of the game, which covers attack, midfield and defence as the Blues retreated into their own area, he must be delighted with Malang Sarr on his Premier League debut who showed himself capable of withstanding the brutality of Brentford’s barrage and so, you’d imagine, he can handle anything.

The Ugly: VAR’s non-presence

There was a moment late in the game when a long ball over the top to Ivan Toney saw him take the ball down only to be yanked down in the area by Trevoh Chalobah in what looked like a certain penalty. However, the referee had already blown his whistle… for offside!

The linesman had decided that Toney was offside before the pass was played, so the foul was irrelevant. However video replays later showed that Toney was probably onside? At worst level? So it should have been a penalty? Yet VAR didn’t intervene and Brentford were left cursing their luck (although given how well Mendy was playing, he probably would have saved it) as they fruitlessly tried to find an equaliser.


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