Mauricio Pochettino lamented that Chelsea were “not nasty enough” in attack as Brentford won 2-0 at Stamford Bridge to send his team to a third home Premier League defeat of the season.
Victory for the visitors, earned with second-half goals from Ethan Pinnock and Bryan Mbeumo, maintained their 100 per cent record on this ground since being promoted to the top flight in 2021 and ended Chelsea’s run of three league games unbeaten.
The hosts failed to take advantage of a first half that they largely dominated, going close through Noni Madueke who struck the crossbar on his first start of the season.
Marc Cucurella should have made more of the chance when Cole Palmer found him unmarked inside the box with a finely weighted ball, the defender lacking the power and precision needed to trouble goalkeeper Mark Flekken.
From there, familiar frailties crept into Chelsea’s play and it was little surprise when they fell behind on 58 minutes, Pinnock storming past the ineffectual Axel Disasi to get on the end of Mbeumo’s cross and power his header inside Robert Sanchez’s near post.
The goalkeeper was left embarrassed in added time when he was caught out going up for a corner and left the goal empty for Mbeumo to tap home Brentford’s second.
Chelsea’s woeful home form has seen them win only once at Stamford Bridge in the league since March, a run that now stands at 13 matches going back to March.
And after failing to score here for the 10th time in all competitions in 2023, Pochettino was left to rue the ease with which the visitors coped with his side’s attacking threat.
“It’s a clear analysis,” he said. “After the first half we should score and we didn’t. When you dominate and create chances, and you don’t concede chances and the opponent didn’t cross the halfway line, we should score. If you don’t score, you need to blame ourselves. We were not nasty or clinical in front of the goal.
“Sometimes you need some luck to score. It would change the game in the second half. But I think we gave them belief because we didn’t score. The second half, we can’t concede the kind of goal that we conceded and that’s why we lost the game.
“(We have had) bad luck. (Christopher) Nkunku proved he can score in the big leagues and was injured in the last pre-season game. This type of thing didn’t help. We need to recover (Armando) Broja. Nicolas Jackson is affected for different reasons, he’s young and needs time to adapt. That’s obvious.”
The first half ended with the manager remonstrating with a supporter near the dugout who expressed dissatisfaction with Jackson’s lack of involvement.
The striker had come to the touchline to receive instruction but was criticised from the stands for his performance, prompting Pochettino to come to his defence.
“It was a moment where we all felt frustrated,” he said. “After 40 minutes we’d played really well and created chances, but didn’t score. In that moment the energy was down in the stadium.
“(Jackson) came to me and we were talking about positions on the pitch and I gave some direction to him. One fan said ‘wake up’. I said to stop talking in this way, support the players, we need support. It was very respectful.”
Brentford boss Thomas Frank reflected on a game in which his players weathered first-half pressure and grabbed their chances when they arrived.
“I think our first half wasn’t that good,” he said. “Chelsea were good first half, you see their exciting potential. If I was a Chelsea fan I’d be positive about them. It’s a bad result (for them), but I’m convinced it will come.
“I said at half time we need to believe, I didn’t see that enough in the first half. We didn’t give away big chances away, but we gave too much away.
“The first goal always changes the dynamic of a game. The way we defended was fantastic.”