Same s**t, different day: Brentford make wasteful Chelsea pay with Pochettino’s problem still clear…

Jason Soutar
Brentford players huddle before their Premier League match at Chelsea.
Brentford players huddle before their Premier League match at Chelsea.

Finding things to write about a Chelsea game is proving to be quite the mission, because f**king hell.

Well, more specifically games in which Mauricio Pochettino’s men are the favourites to win. Their home clashes against Liverpool and Arsenal were entertaining, we will give them that.

One billion of the King’s finest spent only to thrive as the underdogs with Axel Disasi in right-back, Nicolas Jackson leading the line, and Conor Gallagher as your captain. Bloody Chelsea. Bloody Todd Boehly.

Gallagher is having a good season but he is hardly a Chelsea skipper, is he? It’s a game of opinions, I guess.

Chelsea started well against Brentford, as they tend to do at Stamford Bridge. Noni Madueke hit the bar with a lovely effort, Cole Palmer was playing well in between the lines and would have had an assist if it was anyone but Marc Cucurella on the end of his cross, and Raheem Sterling also missed a good chance.

However, the first half was summed up by Brentford’s failed corner tactic that ended with the ball at Mark Flekken’s feet on the halfway line and Gallagher falling over and watching the ball trickle over the line for a goal kick after losing his balance from the slightest bit of contact. It was abysmal viewing.

It was a bleak opening 45 minutes and one which epitomised Chelsea’s start to the season. Playing well against the ‘big six’ rivals is important, but it is also important to remember that Chelsea didn’t win either of those matches. It is against teams like Brentford – who did the double over Manchester City last term – that really matter. You are not going to get anywhere if you never manage to break down deep blocks.

The second half was better from a neutral and Brentford point of view. Chelsea’s first-half misses came back to bite them in the backside when they completely switched off from a throw-in in their defensive third. Bryan Mbeumo was able to find stat machine Ethan Pinnock wide open at the back post with Disasi completely oblivious to his whereabouts, which is probably partly down to poor communication from his right winger, Noni Madueke. That is an assumption, to be fair. Either way, it was a horrendous goal to concede.

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Mbeumo was able to put the result beyond doubt deep into stoppage time after Robert Sanchez tried to be the hero by coming up for a corner, allowing Neal Maupay to race up with the ball and find his teammate to score into an empty net.

It is quite difficult to dissect what just happened without sounding like a broken record. Chelsea started well, created a few great chances, let the opposition get comfortable, conceded, and lost. It is all too familiar for Pochettino and something he desperately needs to address.

The lack of a focal point, a goalscorer, in the No. 9 position is baffling considering the money Boehly has spent, we all know that already. Christopher Nkunku will return shortly after the international break, which could be huge, but he is not exactly an out-and-out striker either. At least he knows how to find the back of the net, though.

Moving away from the boring, repeated talking points, Chelsea clearly missed Enzo Fernandez, who was unavailable for the very first time since joining the club for a British record fee in January. The absence of the World Cup winner and Mykhaylo Mudryk saw a change in formation with Gallagher partnering Moises Caicedo in a pivot and Jackson leading the line ahead of Cole Palmer in the No. 10 role.

Enzo was a miss, but he is not the reason Chelsea failed to beat Brentford. While he is a top player and the Blues severely lacked individual talent, they needed more in the final third, which the player with zero goal contributions in the league this season was unlikely to improve.

Reece James sitting on the bench was bizarre considering he was fit enough to come on last week and Disasi started in his position. He could have made a difference in the final third and he also might have helped prevent Pinnock’s opener.

But yes, the absence of a right-back and a defensive midfielder is not the sole reason Chelsea lost. Unfortunately, the narrative will not change until Chelsea change. They need a striker. And not one with all the potential in the world, they need an Ivan Toney or a Victor Osimhen. Nkunku is expected to help, but Pochettino has to sign a No. 9. There are no two ways about it.

It hurts being a broken record but until Chelsea learn to take their chances, we will be forced to repeat ourselves.

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