Shot-shy Chelsea held to 0-0 draw at Brentford


Chelsea’s Kalidou Koulibaly (left) is challenged by Brentford’s Frank Onyeka during the game. (AP image)

LONDON: Chelsea’s four-game winning streak in the Premier League ended in a tame goalless draw at Brentford yesterday as the home side looked more enterprising for much of a night that failed to live up to their west London derby expectations.

Brentford’s fans, still adjusting to their side taking on the Premier League heavyweights, initially seemed unsure how to welcome the result before finally realizing it was an excellent point and applauding their men .

It was a disappointing night for Chelsea, not only for the points they dropped, but for a generally low-key display that’s desperately lacking in pattern or innovative ideas.

They remain fourth in the standings on 20 points but are already beginning to drift off the pace of the leaders and face an already tense battle for a Champions League spot.

Brentford remain solid in mid-table on 14 points and while it never looked like they would equal their surprise 4-1 win at Stamford Bridge at the end of last season, they went head to head with their big rivals and worked their way up with them the better chances, sovereign, crisp passing game.

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The first two of those went to striker Ivan Toney, who has already scored eight goals this season, but goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga tipped both headers over the bar.

If Chelsea striker Armando Broja had shown the dedication Toney has shown this year, he would likely have headed Cesar Azpilicueta’s enticing cross, while full-back forced David Raya to stretch and, at best, parry his slipping low shot Attacking game of the guests in the first half. Five minutes after the break, an unmarked Bryan Mbeumo missed a header and the ball landed tamely at Kepa in what would prove to be the game’s best chance.

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With Chelsea making no progress at all, manager Graham Potter fielded three substitutes, including Raheem Sterling but not Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Little changed, however, as Chelsea nudged and tested without creating clear chances, and too often played one pass too many in search of the perfect chance when their fans hungered for someone to fly.

Aubameyang eventually joined the fray for the final 10 minutes and although he and fellow substitutes Christian Pulisic and Carney Chukwuemeka at least kept Raya on their toes in a late relative uproar, it never really felt like a goal was coming .

“We were by far the better team in the first half so I think we deserved the win,” said Brentford manager Thomas Frank. “But from the 84th minute we looked tired after a really hard effort. I think we were fantastic.”

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Potter said he thought the tie was a fair result. “They had a few chances, we had a few, we ended the game stronger, but it was a hard-earned point against a team that makes it difficult for you,” said the manager, who is still alive after being substituted on by Thomas Tuchel in early September was undefeated.

“They put it in the penalty area, set pieces, long balls, you have to defend that well and I think we managed that, although we needed Kepa a couple of times.

“The substitutes made an impression, that was good and I think that was a theme of my time here – everyone wants to play and when they come they give everything.”

Chelsea will hope to rediscover their panache at home against Manchester United on Saturday, while Brentford travel to Aston Villa on Sunday.



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