One of the mainstays of the Chelsea defence that has kept five clean sheets in a row, Ben Chilwell has been discussing the improvements made in that department and the work required today against Sheffield United to record another shutout.
Injury delayed Chilwell’s introduction to the Blues set-up but of his nine appearances to date, seven have ended with us keeping the opposition out.
Having also contributed plenty in the attacking third, including the opener against Crystal Palace on his Premier League debut, Chilwell is unquestionably satisfied with his start to life at Stamford Bridge.
‘The thing that got highlighted at the start of the season was the defensive side of the team, so the fact we have got a lot of clean sheets is credit to not just the defence and the goalkeeper, but the whole team that has taken on a defensive element,’ he said.
‘The team want to stop goals. We’re going into games very confident we are not going to concede a goal. We know up the pitch with the attacking ability we have got we are going to score goals.
‘What was key for the team was stopping goals. A successful team has to keep a lot of clean sheets through the season. There are positive signs we have got the defensive side of things sorted. Hopefully it can continue.’
Behind Chilwell, Edouard Mendy became the first Chelsea goalkeeper since Petr Cech to keep a clean sheet in his first three league outings. Another today and the Senegalese will break a club record.
‘If you see Edou every day in training he makes the goal look so small,’ revealed Chilwell. ‘I don’t know if you see it on TV but he’s absolutely huge!
‘As a person he is probably one of the most laid-back people you are going to meet. He’s settled in very quickly, he gets on with everyone, he speaks great English which has probably helped him a lot, and he’s super easy to get on with.’
But won’t be easy is today’s task against a dangerous Sheffield United side who have not got the results their performances this season have merited. The corresponding fixture last term was a 2-2 draw early in the campaign, and more recently we were comfortably dismantled 3-0 at Bramall Lane.
Chilwell is under no illusions as to the size of the job ahead of us.
‘If you look at their form last season they troubled a lot of very good teams because of the style of football they play. It can be very difficult to play against them. It’s the same team this year.
‘Although they are not getting the results, it’s exactly the same style of football, it’s just not quite clicked for them yet. We are completely aware of their attributes and what they can bring to a game, and how clinical they can be if we are not on it.
‘We are completely aware where they are in the table, and if anything that will give them more motivation to get three points. We need to be on it, and to go into the game completely focused.’
Away from football, the world news this week has been dominated by the US election, while in England the first weekend of a full second lockdown is beginning because of the global pandemic.
Chilwell spent the first lockdown back at his Mum’s house because he was living on his own in Leicester, and he recently posted on social media about confidence issues he had suffered last year, and the importance of speaking to people in difficult times.
It is a message he has reiterated ahead of this second lockdown.
‘With lockdown coming back, people struggling with their mental health is going to be a big factor. I thought it was a good time to tell my story during a period when I struggled with confidence, and the fact I spoke about it might help other people who are struggling to talk to people or tell people about their problems.
‘It’s important to try and stay busy,’ he added. ‘What I found helped me a lot was exercise. Obviously I had to because of my job, but it was also a good thing to keep me busy.
‘Thankfully football can go ahead, and hopefully that can be something the fans at home can continue to watch and help them get through it.’