Football Features

“Excellent” Christian Eriksen’s fairytale continues as Chelsea fall to April curse again

By Harry Edwards

Published: 17:37, 2 April 2022

Football’s best story continued on Saturday as Christian Eriksen opened his Premier League account for the season, scoring in Brentford’s 4-1 win over Chelsea.

It’s been a little under a year since Eriksen suffered a cardiac arrest while representing Denmark at Euro 2020, eventually being fitted with an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator that ruled him out from playing in Italy.

In the January transfer window, Eriksen looked to make his return to football and joined Brentford on a short-term deal until the end of the season, but nobody expected him to make the impact he had so quickly.

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After understandably being eased into the team Eriksen has become key for Brentford, starting their last two matches before the international break – recording an assist in the 2-0 win against Burnley. His form earned him a spot back in the Danish national team and that’s where the fairytale truly started.

Coming off the bench against Netherlands in Denmark’s first game, Eriksen needed just a few minutes and one touch to score his first goal since returning to football, an excellent strike from inside the area.

He then started as captain in their next game, against Serbia at the Parken Stadium and found the net once again, the first time he had scored in back-to-back games for Denmark since October 2020. No Netherlands nor Serbia player could deny Eriksen this moment.

But Eriksen wasn’t done there, as it was he who put Brentford ahead in their historic win at Stamford Bridge. After Vitaly Janelt had cancelled out Antonio Rudiger’s opener, Brentford countered quickly from a Chelsea corner and Eriksen was there at the end of it to put his side ahead, his third goal in three games for club and country.

“Christian Eriksen is quality on the ball and has been excellent since he has been in our changing room,” Rico Henry told BBC Sport after the game.

“He is on fire at the moment and long may it continue.”

It was Brentford’s first win over Chelsea since February 1939, and also continued the Blues’ poor recent run at the start of April. Many Chelsea fans were immediately making the link to their 5-2 home defeat to West Brom at this point last season, when Thomas Tuchel suffered his first defeat as Blues manager. But it goes back further than that.

Chelsea have now lost their first game of April in four of the past five seasons that had have matches played in that month (not including the 2019/20 campaign).

On April 1st 2018, Chelsea were beaten 3-1 at home to Tottenham Hotspur, the Lilywhites’ only victory at Stamford Bridge in over 30 years. And exactly a year earlier, Chelsea lost 2-1 at home to Crystal Palace. Only Brighton have played Chelsea in their first game of April and failed to win in the past six seasons, losing 3-0.

To make matters slightly worse, Chelsea took the lead in each of their four defeats in this bizarre run – making them look like real April fools in giving up the advantage.

“It was a tough start for us which is also not the first time after an international break,” Tuchel told Sky Sports.

“We were okay in the first half and had a very good start to the second half and took the lead.

“Maybe we thought it was already done and we got punished in 10 minutes.”

Tuchel will now have to get his side back on track very quickly, with Chelsea welcoming Real Madrid to Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night.