In a 0-0 stalemate in which both sides cancel each other out, it’s usually a defender or goalkeeper who takes the plaudits at full-time.
That was the case on Saturday evening as Manchester United and Chelsea played out a goalless draw at Old Trafford. The likes of Harry Maguire, Victor Lindelof and Thiago Silva put in much-improved defensive displays, but it was new Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy who caught the eye the most.
The 28-year-old has lined up between the sticks four times across all competitions since joining from Rennes for £22m in September, conceding just one goal so far and keeping clean sheets against Sevilla and Crystal Palace as well as United. In the five games without Mendy, Chelsea have seen nine goals hit the back of their net, with Spaniard Kepa Arrizabalaga coming in for significant criticism as a result.
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Mendy made four saves against the Red Devils on Saturday, and particularly impressed when keeping out a pair of efforts from Marcus Rashford, while the Senegal international showed plenty of agility to divert a curling Juan Mata shot clear in the first half.
The goalkeeper’s performance was enough to draw praise from both N’Golo Kante and Blues boss Frank Lampard, who both hailed Mendy’s contribution to a clean sheet and valuable away draw.
“He made some decisive saves, he helped us keep the clean sheet,” Kante said. “It’s good for him, for his confidence, and good for the team. I hope he can keep going in this way and continue not conceding any goals.”
Lampard added: “His performance was very good. You rely on your goalkeepers in those moments in a tight game, not full of many chances.
“Rashford’s first chance was a mistake from us, the one at the end was a moment of quality from him. He [Mendy] showed us what he is there for.
“We brought him in for his quality. He showed great composure in the games he’s played already and with the saves today in a tight game, you rely on them moments.”
Solskjaer joins chorus of praise
So impressive was the agility and concentration shown by Mendy — who is the first Chelsea goalkeeper to keep a clean sheet in each of his first two league starts since Petr Cech in 2004 — even Red Devils manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was prompted to lavish praise upon the Senegalese shot stopper.
Edouard Mendy is the first Chelsea goalkeeper to keep a clean sheet in each of his first two league starts for the club since Petr Cech in 2004.
Following in the footsteps of a club legend… and teammate. 😉 pic.twitter.com/VSBGdpkd3g
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) October 24, 2020
“Two good teams, quality at either end of the pitch. You can see their keeper today, I think he’s the match-winner,” Solskjaer said after the game.
“[Mendy made] two fantastic saves from Marcus. The one in the second half, an unbelievable save, I’m standing just behind it and following it to the top corner. Great finish, great save.”