It’s better to be lucky than good, as they often say, but what is even better than that is to be lucky and to be good, which is precisely what Chelsea were tonight in Brentford as we gutted out a 1-0 win that looked largely comfortable for the first 70 minutes and looked anything but comfortable for the final 20. Not so much a game of two halves, but rather a game of three-quarters and one-quarter!
While Chelsea weren’t necessarily flowing in attack, we created a few dangerous opportunities and grabbed a deserved lead after a spell of pressure late on in the first half, with Ben Chilwell scoring yet again (his third in his last four games for club and country). And it looked like we might put the game away early in the second half, but after our initial push failed to produce a goal, the home side woke up and chose violence.
“In the end the last 20 minutes were suddenly a cup game. They had nothing to lose and they found momentum. It felt like we had one player less. We were not clear enough in the challenges. They found the belief and we focused too much on defending.
“I was very content with the first 65-70 minutes where maybe we should have scored more. It helps if we have Toni or Thiago to help calm the game down and with that first touch to counter the pressure. We trust the guys who are young, if you don’t play you cannot get experience.”
-Thomas Tuchel; source: Sky via BBC
Chelsea weren’t just second best; we were barely hanging on as Brentford launched wave after wave, shot after shot. (And while Tuchel decried our lack of control, he chose not to put on Jorginho and even took Kovačić off!) We simply could not deal, and were only saved, literally, by Édouard Mendy, plus his best friend the goalpost, and a goal-line clearance by Trevoh Chalobah as well.
In the final reckoning, we were outclassed in every attacking statistic but the one that matters in the end, the scoreboard. And we have all our lucky stars and of course every limb of Édouard Mendy to thank for that!
“We were very strong for 70 minutes and very lucky for 20 minutes, to sum it up. We escaped with the three points thanks to Édouard. [He] was concentrated in the first half; they trouble you with long throws and set pieces. They created big chances and he was the key to the clean sheet.”
-Thomas Tuchel; source: BBC
It’s a cliché that if you want to be champions, you have to find a way to win games like these, when you’re not at your best. And the resilience we showed, bending but ultimately not breaking, should help in that regard as well.
Top of the league we stay!