For the first time all season, Chelsea lost the expected goals (xG) battle.
For not the first time all season, Chelsea also lost the real-goals battle. And as ever, that’s the only battle that counts.
Brentford barely crossed the halfway line, especially in the first half, but when they did, they posed a threat. And they made one of those few threats count — causing one of Pochettino’s major decisions to backfire in that moment as well, with Axel Disasi, playing a defensive right back, absolutely losing his man at the far post.
Chelsea crossed the halfway line a whole bunch, especially in the first half, but when we did, we rarely posed a threat. And when we did pose a threat, we did not make those chances count.
Chelsea (1.65) 0-2 (2.46) Brentford— The xG Philosophy (@xGPhilosophy) October 28, 2023
Cole Palmer tried his best, but his inventive passes were wasted by Marc Cucurella and Raheem Sterling, who had reverted to the bad version of himself once again. Noni Madueke was as raw as ever. Nicolas Jackson seemed to be in a different book, not just on a different page. Conor Gallagher and Moisés Caicedo were overkill against a team intent on not having the ball and just dropping as deep as the pitch would allow. (Enzo was apparently not fit or available.) We kept insisting on cutting inside and congesting the already congested middle.
And still, we “should” have won. Or at least scored a goal or two. Cucurella missed point blank. Sterling from just wide of center. Madueke rattled the crossbar and Sterling had a decent penalty shout. But that was all in the first 25 minutes.
It was largely crickets after that, and some of the least inspiring football we’ve seen in some time. And that’s saying something after the last 10? 12? 18? 24? months ... however long it’s been.
“After the first half we should score and we didn’t score. It is easy when you dominate and create chances and you don’t concede chances and the opponent doesn’t cross the halfway line. I think you should score. If you don’t score you need to blame yourself and we are going to blame ourselves because we were not nasty or clinical in front of the goal. We created chances but did not score.
“Sometimes you need some luck, you know, to score and after the game changed in the second half but I think we give the belief because we didn’t score and the second half, I think we cannot concede these types of goals. It was our mistake. That is why we lose the game.”
After the steps taken forward in recent weeks, we went tumbling backwards precipitously today.
That will happen with young teams, with teams searching for an identity, search for confidence. Now it’s time to respond.
“We played Liverpool, we played Arsenal and the team did really well. When you see this type of game today, like Nottingham Forest, we dominate and we cannot score goals, the block is so, so deep. Too many bodies inside of the box, we struggled a little bit to score but I think if you see the different games when we play teams like Arsenal or Liverpool, the team did really well. That is why we are not worried.
“We need to move on, we need to win Wednesday and then to prepare the game against Tottenham.”
-Mauricio Pochettino; source: Football.London
League Cup on Wednesday, then Spurs and Manchester City back-to-back. Season’s about to be defined.