Amid all the big name, high price, and highly talented new arrivals this summer, Chelsea’s signing of an older, lesser known goalkeeper late in the transfer window for a relatively small transfer fee flew under the radar a bit, even if it was meant to address a huge issue at the club. Or at least attempting to.
After all there was no guarantee that Edouard Mendy was going to be any good, or that he’d adjust quickly, and he wasn’t necessarily touted as a direct replacement for Kepa Arrizabalaga, but rather just a more conservative “added competition”. That might have been a bit of PR or expectation management from the club of course; the situation was already awkward enough and fraught with danger as it was.
Now, I don’t want to jinx things, but it’s safe to say that Mendy’s made an excellent initial impression at Chelsea. He’s started six games in all competitions, keeping five (5!) clean sheets. He gave up a goal in his first game, to Spurs in the League Cup (and then went without a save in the subsequent penalty shootout), but he’s not had to pick a single ball out of the back of his net since — and those 450 minutes include two Champions League and three Premier League matches.
In fact, with his clean sheet against Burnley on Satuday, he’s become the first Chelsea goalkeeper since Petr Cech himself in 2004 to keep a clean sheet in his first three Premier League starts. Cech, now technical
director advisor (and part-time fourth-choice goalkeeper) was of course a main proponent for signing Mendy.
And the similarities don’t stop there. Both Cech and Mendy came to Chelsea from Rennes, and they both arrived, at least in name, just to provide competition for an incumbent. Cech got his chance because of an injury to Carlo Cudicini, and never looked back. Let’s hope Mendy doesn’t either.
Chelsea’s defense was legendary in 2004-05, and set a record with just 15 goals conceded all season (25 clean sheets) that’s unlikely to be ever broken. This year’s Chelsea probably won’t be that good, but at least we seem to have found a starting goalkeeper we can have confidence in. And that can make all the difference.