Ben Chilwell and Edouard Mendy show the benefits of a good night’s sleep as Chelsea maintain their position as the pace-setters of the Premier League’s opening season.
Showcasing the poise and accuracy of a top-flight striker, left wing-back Chilwell scored a brilliant first-half goal to sink West London’s neighboring Brentford.
And the brave Mendy earned his appearance fee with some excellent late blocks for denying the Bees parity in their first league meeting for 74 years.
Those critical interventions – as well as the reinforcement of the woodwork – saw Thomas Tuchel’s troops back on top of the table after they were lost after the luncheon massacre at Watford, Liverpool.
And it justified a decision by the German to cancel Friday night hotel bookings and send its stars to their own beds.
With many stars away from international football, Tuchel decided to let his men stay with his family instead of checking in at a nearby hotel.
And the policy worked a treat after Tuchel’s plans were heavily disrupted by the latest international football break.
Yes, the fortnight allowed Chelsea to welcome N’Golo Kante after his Covid positive test and Romelu Lukaku were released early from the Belgian camp.
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Yet among the eleven first-team stars included in their national teams, there were inevitable big-name casualties.
Legendary defender Antonio Rudiger has been sidelined after experiencing a back problem while playing for Germany against Romania.
And Brazil centre-half Thiago Silva wasn’t even on the substitute bench, as he faced an insane 12-hour trip from South America.
Silva captained Brazil to a 4-1 win over Uruguay in Manaus in the Amazon rainforest, yet didn’t finish in the World Cup qualifier until 3.30 a.m. UK time on Friday.
This meant reshuffling the defences of Trevoh Chaloba, Andreas Christensen and Frenchman Malang Sarr, who were handed Premier League starts.
Brentford, in comparison, was just two stars away on the overseas trip – essentially he had two weeks of preparation for a match that many would have written in their diaries when the fixture list was announced in June.
There won’t be many Brentford fans old enough to remember the last time it was a fixture in the top flight – in March 1947 in vivid detail.
For obvious reasons, it was a momentous occasion and home supporters brought noise, passion and fury, which was evidenced by an excellent pre-match rendition of The Beatles’ Hey Jude.
However it was a slow burn in terms of action and excitement and both sides did manage to block each other in frantic opening exchanges.
It was snapped to life in just 21 minutes when Brentford’s Brian Mbumo reversed his close-range shot from the Chelsea post after a dangerous Sergi Cano’s right wing cross.
If French midfielder Mbumo had secured a good connection in the crowded penalty area, it could have been a different result.
Chelsea then ran immediately down the other end and Timo Werner supplied a pass from the left as Romelu Lukaku provided the specialist finish.
But Belgium was clearly out and this time VAR was not needed to settle the debate.
Werner, who had teamed up with Lukaku to attack for the third time in this campaign, boosted the confidence of someone who had scored three times in his last three matches.
But those old monsters are never off the surface and the German’s infuriating habit of disappearing became apparent again in the first half.
He was once again head in his hands when he hit a cushion-ball from Lukaku’s height into the stand from outside the box.
Werner needed a defender in the shape of Chilwell to show him how to hit the ball properly and cleanly.
As the stoppage board for the first half was raised, the Englishman tapped the loose ball in front of goalkeeper David Raya with precise and superb technique.
It is now a three for three for Chilwell, coming a week after his first goal for the Three Lions Up in the Andorran Mountains.
Referee Anthony Taylor – usually the curse of Chelsea’s spectators – began to upset and frustrate the Brentford crowd in major parts in the second half.
At first, twenty striker Ivan Toni went down as he feuded with Chaloba in a central position and yet Taylor decided it was an accidental collision and waved the game.
Secondly, the pair would clash later in the penalty area – Tony went down holding his face after an extended Chaloba hand – but a call for a spot-kick by Taylor was ignored.
Brentford scored several, golden chances in the later stages to force a draw on the three-year anniversary of Thomas Frank’s tenure.
Only Mendy’s bravery and resilience saved the day.
In the final 20 minutes, Mendy instinctively refused Tony and stopped Summon Ghoddos – the rebound from Norgaard was deflected off the line by Chaloba
Pontus Johnson’s effort to his face bore the brunt and then he tipped for a corner on an acrobatic kick from Norgaard.
How Brentford didn’t score is beyond belief, especially when Mbumo also hit the post for the second time – though once again he didn’t hit the ball cleanly.
It should come as no surprise that when the full-time whistle was blown, Chelsea players made a major point of congratulating the splendid Mendy’s valor.