Ben Chilwell’s thunderous strike ensured Chelsea retained their place at the top of the Premier League with a 1-0 victory at Brentford on Saturday.
The first league meeting between the pair since 1947 was settled by a wonderful first-half effort from Chilwell, keeping Chelsea one point clear of Liverpool and two ahead of Manchester City at the summit.
Thomas Tuchel’s side dominated possession throughout but did not force David Raya into a single save, with Chilwell’s goal coming from their only shot on target.
Bryan Mbeumo twice hit the post but Chelsea did enough to become the first team in the history of the English Football League to win seven London derbies in succession.
After a tepid start, the game burst to life when Mbeumo rattled the upright in the 22nd minute and Chelsea went straight up the other end and scored through Romelu Lukaku, only for the offside flag to go up.
Timo Werner failed to make the most of a couple of openings before Chilwell’s rasping effort fired Chelsea into a lead their dominance of the game deserved on the stroke of half-time.
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) October 16, 2021
Chances remained at a premium after the interval. Mateo Kovacic’s wayward shot was the only effort on goal from either team before Tuchel introduced Mason Mount in the 65th minute.
Brentford pushed for an equaliser and Edouard Mendy kept out an Ivan Toney volley before Mbeumo struck the post once again with 15 minutes remaining.
Mendy made another great save to deny Saman Ghoddos and the recovering Trevoh Chalobah cleared Christian Norgaard’s follow-up off the line in the 84th minute.
Pontus Jansson was thwarted by Mendy’s face before the goalkeeper tipped Norgaard’s overhead kick onto the bar in stoppage time as Chelsea valiantly clung on for all three points.
What does it mean? Chilwell bouncing back
After going from the high of winning the Champions League with Chelsea to failing to make an appearance for England on their run to the Euro 2020 final, Tuchel said Chilwell returned for this season “mentally tired”.
He fell behind Marcos Alonso in the pecking order but has now scored in each of his Premier League starts this season, while he was on target for England for the first time in the 5-0 win over Andorra during the international break.
Chilwell appears to be full of confidence once again and it will be difficult for Alonso to displace him if he retains this form.
Mbeumo has now hit the woodwork six times in the Premier League this season, which is more than every other team in the competition. Burnley are the only other team to have been denied by the frame of the goal at least five times.
He did not have much to do for the first 70 minutes of the game, but Mendy came up big when it mattered for Chelsea. His saves from Toney, Ghoddos, Jansson and Norgaard were key to the Blues taking maximum points.
Key Opta Facts:
– Chelsea have won 15 of their last 16 Premier League games when facing an opponent for the first time in the competition, losing the other against Bournemouth in December 2015.
– The Blues have conceded just three goals from their first eight Premier League games this season (five clean sheets), the fewest they have conceded at this stage of a season since 2010-11 (two).
– Ben Chilwell has scored three goals in his last three Premier League games, as many as he netted in his previous 33 appearances in the competition combined.
– Chelsea goalkeeper Édouard Mendy kept his 20th Premier League clean sheet in this game (38th start) – only Petr Cech (26), Pepe Reina (32), Alisson (36) and Roy Carroll (37) have needed fewer starts to reach 20 shut outs in the competition’s history.
Chelsea entertain Malmo in the Champions League on Wednesday, while Brentford are not in action until the visit of Leicester City next Sunday.
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