The Debrief: Sarr and Loftus-Cheek stand out as efficient and dogged Blues dig deep

In our statistical analysis of yesterday’s tight win at Brentford, the contrast between the beginning and end of the game is laid bare, and a couple of Blues prove their value in testing circumstances…

A game of three thirds

Although Chelsea finished the game on the back foot desperately defending our one-goal lead, the stats show we had been relatively comfortable in the opening 70 minutes of our newest Premier League derby.

We had enjoyed a 62 per cent share of possession up until that point, and completed over 200 more passes than our opponents. Ben Chilwell’s goal was one of five attempts we had registered. In contrast, Brentford had mustered just a couple of efforts.

That all changed in the final 20 minutes. The Bees had an astonishing 15 shots in that time as they laid siege to our goal, including all seven of their on-target efforts plus a second Bryan Mbeumo strike against the woodwork.

Brentford had 60 per cent possession, and we were forced into making 28 clearances in the final 25 minutes, 15 more than we had in the opening 65 minutes.

Even though we did not have another attempt after the 47th minute, and Chilwell’s goal was our only on-target shot and only effort from inside the box, the brilliance and bravery of Edouard Mendy alongside some last-ditch defending got us over the line.

Solid Sarr

On his Premier League debut, Malang Sarr recorded game-high figures for clearances and interceptions, and his three tackles won was bettered only by Chilwell (four) and Trevoh Chalobah (five). He also ranked third for completed passes.

With seven of Brentford’s attempts stemming from set-pieces, and roughly one in eight of their passes long balls, our defensive rearguard had their work cut out when the hosts got the ball forward quickly and directly. Of the 52 aerial duels contested, Brentford won two-thirds. Ivan Toney’s 11 successful such duels were as many as our back five combined.

Ruben’s drive

Ruben Loftus-Cheek completed 90 Premier League minutes in a Chelsea shirt for the first time since May 2019, and his ability to carry the ball from deep past opposition midfielders was certainly on display at the Brentford Community Stadium: his four successful dribbles was a game-high figure.

With a 90 per cent pass completion rate, a 6.8 per cent share of possession and three successful tackles, it was another good day’s work for Loftus-Cheek.

Chilly’s treble

Much has been made of Ben Chilwell’s three goals in three games for club and country, but yesterday’s stunner was also his third league goal in his past three league appearances for us, dating back to the final day of last season.

If you classify the wing-back as a defender – and not everyone does! – he is the first Chelsea defender to achieve that feat in the Premier League era.

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