The Ricketts family’s questionable ambition to acquire Chelsea continues to enrage fans, but few expected Brentford to send the European champions a lesson in football.
Brentford were superb: aggressive in the press, smart with the ball, and tactically adept as they achieved their first win in this game since 1939.
It was worth the wait, as Thomas Frank would agree. Brentford were back to their best and finding the zeal that made them so exciting to watch at the start of the season. Chelsea had no answer, even though they seized the lead when Antonio Rüdiger eventually scored a long-range goal early in the second half, and the only relief for Thomas Tuchel was that his team had not lost by more.
Tuchel could not complain. Brentford were the superior team, therefore Frank had to figure out which of his guys had stood out. It wasn’t only about Ivan Toney and Bryan Mbeumo’s skill and agility upfront. Christian Eriksen found himself alone in the Chelsea area and hoisted the ball over Édouard Mendy to give Brentford a highly earned lead nine minutes into a pulsating second half.
It was one of the season’s most poignant moments. After going down to Rüdiger’s incredible opening, Toney and Mbeumo combined to bring up an immediate equalize for Janelt, but the best was yet to come. After clearing a Chelsea corner, Mbeumo looked inside for help and discovered Eriksen alone in the center, waiting for the ball and the opportunity to put them ahead.
Luckily for Eriksen, Mbeumo’s cross was precisely weighted. It enticed Mendy, but he couldn’t get there. Eriksen had the moment and Brentford, who signed him in January after he almost died of a heart episode last summer, were ahead.
Chelsea couldn’t handle Eriksen’s deft passing and crumbled. After Rüdiger’s wayward header gave Yoann Wissa the chance to make it 4-1 and lift Brentford 11 points clear of the relegation zone with seven games remaining.
Tense from the outset in Chelsea. Alonso was again guilty of handing up possession cheaply in the early minutes, and the visitors had opportunities. On the right side, Eriksen sent Mads Roerslev haring past Alonso after Mendy had fired a wayward ball to Toney. Mbeumo fed Toney to test Mendy.
Rico Henry got space on the left and crossed for Toney to head home. Brentford’s 5-3-2 style was generating issues, and Tuchel was becoming agitated. It took a long for Chelsea to seize control, Mason Mount and Ruben Loftus-Cheek threatening from the outside of the area.
Brentford defended admirably, denying Kai Havertz many chances to express himself at the Chelsea attack’s front. Only Hakim Ziyech threatened, and David Raya made a superb save.
Was Brentford’s time up? As soon as Rüdiger pushed forward from the back, a powerful 30-yard drive clipped the inside of Raya’s right post.
But Brentford reacted quickly. They equalised quickly, exploiting Chelsea’s midfield breakdown. Toney found Mbeumo, who passed to Janelt, who raced from midfield to blast a superb shot past Mendy.