Brentford 0, Chelsea 0

Image above: Before the match

How refreshing to see two gentlemen coaches respecting one another and two teams battling ferociously, but mostly fairly – not a punishment card in sight – to draw a thrilling match at the Gtech Stadium last Wednesday at the end of which nobody could seriously dispute the outcome.

First, the camaraderie between Brentford’s Thomas Frank and the recently appointed Graham Potter, of Chelsea. Before kick-off they shared a pitch-side microphone to swap compliments about each other and their opposing teams.

The warmth Brentford fans feel towards Frank is well known throughout the Premier League – ‘We’ve got super Thomas Frank’, sincerely, if somewhat tunelessly sang the home crowd – and Potter, with a reputation already established at Brighton, had gone off like a rocket at Chelsea, with his team unbeaten after their first six games.

Then came the match, with the Bees supplying the fireworks for the first half-hour and both Ivan Toney and Bryan Mbeumo testing the vigilance of Spanish keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga, who, it transpired, was to dominate his area from then on.

Frank was later to claim the Bees had the best of the first period and he might well have been right.

Image above: What’s the plan?

Three consecutive corners each came close and constant pressure from Frank Onyeka and thoughtful distribution from Mathias Jensen made sure Chelsea’s talented defence – like most of the side, with unpronounceable surnames – had to concentrate fully while the midfield supplied slick and speedy passes to fuel breakaway attacks.

After 15 minutes, midfielder Conor Gallagher departed from the action, apparently unwell rather than injured, which peculiarly saw him stopping on his way to the dugout to tie a bootlace. Hoots of derision from home fans were about as contentious as they got and Mateo Kovaĉić proved an energetic stand-in.

If Chelsea had more possession, Brentford created the more clear-cut chances throughout and Mbeumo came close, but not that close, when clipping a long-range effort from around the halfway line designed to catch Arrizabalaga way out of his goal.

The shot didn’t travel far enough, and the keeper retreated to collect it without difficulty, but ten out of ten to Bryan for ingenuity reminiscent of Toney’s similar final goal of his hat-trick against Leeds.

Image above: Closing down Cucurella

England star Mason Mount showed class continually testing Brentford’s resolute back three and the same can be said of Toney, whose opposing trio were as capable as their tongue-twisting names were poetic. César Azpilicueta, Trevoh Chalobah and Kalidou Koulibaly? My case rests.

As the game progressed, substitutions were introduced by both sides, with Raheem Sterling beefing up the Chelsea forwards and – surprisingly – Mount being replaced by Carney Chukwuemeka, possibly on the grounds that Mount was too difficult a name to pronounce.

Coach Frank, usually a five-subs man, restrained himself to four pairs of fresh legs, including those of a lively Shandon Baptiste.

Four added minutes awarded by passive referee Jarred Gillett resulted in Frank sending on Saman Ghoddos for all of two of them and striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – name of the day in my book – strive even harder for that elusive goal, having replaced the impressive Kai Havertz.

Image above: Bee together

Post-match, coach Potter told the BBC: ‘Over the course of the game, a point is fair. They had chances and we pushed at the end.’

And coach Frank commented: ‘Kepa was fantastic. Every time Chelsea come here, their goalkeeper is man of the match.’

My mate Charlie joined the applause of an appreciative crowd before observing: ‘Great stuff. But I wish I’d brought an interpreter.’

Brentford: Raya; Zanka, Mee, Pinnock; Roerslev, Onyeka (substitute Baptiste, 60), Janelt (Ghoddos, 90+2), Jensen (Dasilva, 73); Henry, Mbeumo (Wissa, 73), Toney.

Chelsea: Arrizabalaga; Azpilicueta, Chalobah, Koulibaly; Loftus-Cheek, Gallagher (Kovacic, 15), Jorginho; Mount (Chukwuemeka, 62), Cucurella (Pulistic, 61); Havertz (Aubameyang, 81; Broja, (Sterling, 62).

Bill Hagerty is a contributing editor of the Bees United supporters’ group. Pictures by Liz Vercoe.

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