In his latest column, Chelsea legend Pat Nevin reflects on some significant firsts and a strengthening bond, before turning his attention to the big Champions League trip that awaits…
Hallelujah! We have finally got the first home league win, and even the clean sheet we had been craving. Once again it was an entertaining match down at the Bridge against Brighton, but this time we got what we deserved. Well, maybe the team didn’t get everything they deserved, because 2-0 certainly wasn’t reflective of the dominance our lads had in terms of dangerous possession and, more importantly, clear-cut chances on goal.
On another day Tammy might have scored three with his opportunities; Pedro could have scored and maybe should have; Ross Barkley had a chance from six yards on the volley that didn’t really test the keeper; and Marcos Alonso had a back-post effort he would tuck away nine times out of 10.
It was nice to see the slightly more mature players getting a look in when goals were finally divvied up this time. The youngsters have been very greedy hogging the limelight so far! With 23 efforts on goal in 90 minutes somebody had to score, with Willian and Jorginho deservedly notching the two that mattered.
After that sort of performance, the cliche in football usually is, ‘If we keep creating that number of chances, somebody is going to get a real hammering soon.’ Well do not tell Grimsby fans this, they already suffered one of those hammerings days before and that could have been more as well.
Brighton’s best effort came from a corner that was headed onto the crossbar. It was the same set-up and the same area that we have lost goals against Leicester, Sheffield United and Liverpool already this season. I did a little piece of analysis on just that for the BBC's Football Focus a couple of hours before the game, and my heart sank when exactly the same thing nearly happened yet again. It would have been grossly unfair had the Seagulls equalised at this point because we had missed that bunch of chances mentioned above, and the game should have been long dead by then.
I had looked at the penalties taken so far in the Premier League this season for another BBC analysis piece the day before. At the end of my little piece I waxed lyrical about just how good Jorginho’s penalties are, by far my favourite anywhere in the world at the moment. I know we all loved Eden Hazard’s stunningly stylish penalties over the past few seasons, but honestly I think Jorginho’s method is even better than his.
Chelsea fans still have our number five’s missed penalty against Man City in the Carabao Cup shoot-out at Wembley in mind. In open play he has only ever missed one penalty, and he scored on the rebound with that one. His numbers are great, but it is the way that he does that little hop, sends the keeper one way and then calmly rolls it the other way that impresses me. It impresses me almost as much as the fact that he doesn’t look at the ball when he kicks it.
Even Eden has to look at the ball a millisecond before he takes his penalties. Usually by then, the keeper has moved anyway, but Jorginho never looks down. It is an amazing ability and one few keepers have ever had to deal with before anywhere else in the world.
I will admit that my heart was in my mouth when he stepped up, after me telling the world how great his penalties were just the day before, but I needn’t have worried. I do hope he can keep taking them for a long time, even if he misses the odd one. It will look bad when he does miss, as the keeper will just bend down and pick it up without needing to dive, but everybody eventually misses now and again. Stick by him and we will almost certainly benefit.
One very noticeable thing about Saturday was what happened at the end of the game. It is common for many stadiums to empty very quickly after the final whistle, and even before that sometimes. A rush down to get a tube at Fulham Broadway station before the heaving masses arrive is an understandable temptation, especially if we are cruising to an easy win.
On this occasion, however, an unusually large number of fans around the stadium stayed until well after the end of the game. Most of the team did a walk round the pitch to thank those fans for the unwavering support so far. Yes, it was the first home win but it was more than that, it was an acknowledgment of the special bond that has already grown between this group of players and the fans in the stands.
Frank Lampard walked around as well because he knows this and wants to show his appreciation for the patience and support. In normal circumstances it would seem an odd thing to do. A lap of honour after beating Brighton at home? That isn’t something Chelsea would have felt was absolutely necessary over the past few years, or indeed appropriate, but this was different.
With a bit of luck, they will get another chance to salute the fans tomorrow night in Lille. I think the Champions League has come just a few weeks earlier than we could have done with this season. N’Golo is still not certain to be fit and of course we await Toni Rudiger’s return to a decent run in the team. That sort of experience is invaluable in this competition, particularly away from home.
It is however all about experience this year and however far we go it is a huge deposit in the memory banks for the likes of Mason Mount, Tammy Abraham and Fikayo Tomori along with any of the other youngsters who get an outing. I am certainly not writing this one off but a point would do, keeping Lille in our sights in the hope that we will be at full strength for the return tie.
Lille themselves shipped three in their opener against Ajax in Amsterdam, so they may feel they have to come out and attack us. This alone could make it a mouthwatering tie. You just know Frank will want our guys to do the same, so get the smartphone’s calculator app at the ready - there could and should be goals.