In total, the club spent more than £220million on seven new arrivals, including Ben Chilwell, Kai Havertz, Hakim Ziyech and Timo Werner. Their arrivals were a series of statements of intent shown by the Blues as they looked to bridge the gap on the likes of Liverpool and Manchester City.
In truth, it was probably the arrivals of Havertz and Werner that got the juices of Chelsea’s supporters flowing most, with the pair having lit up the Bundesliga last season with their eye-catching performances and never-ending collection of goals.
Whilst the arrivals of Thiago Silva, Chilwell, Havertz, Ziyech and Werner were the headline additions, the arrivals of Edouard Mendy from Rennes and centre-back Malang Sarr, who helped Porto progress to the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday evening, did not receive quite as much attention, purely because they were not particularly well-known to English football.
Whilst Sarr was immediately sent out on loan to bolster his experience, Mendy was soon installed as the club’s new first choice goalkeeper, following a series of errors from Kepa Arrizabalaga.
Mendy, a Senegalese international, soon made an immediate impact at Stamford Bridge, keeping seven clean sheets in his first ten games.
Immediately, despite his unfamiliarity with English football, the goalkeeper was making a name for himself at Stamford Bridge and proving to the supporters that the club had made the right decision to sign him, instead of launching a much bigger priced move for either Jan Oblak of Atletico Madrid or Ajax’s Andre Onana.
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But after Chelsea climbed to the summit of the Premier League table in early-December, their form started to falter, as did Mendy’s. The goalkeeper went on a run of picking up just two clean sheets in nine matches, concluding in Lampard’s final Premier League game in charge when the Blues lost 2-0 to Leicester City.
But it was ahead of the Blues’ 3-0 win over West Ham United just prior to Christmas when Mendy came in for criticism from Sky Sports duo Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville. At that stage, Mendy had only gone three games without a clean sheet, meaning their criticism surrounding him was harsh, as, overall, he had made an excellent start to life in west London.
Asked if Mendy had solved the Blues’ goalkeeping troubles, Neville told Sky Sports: “We thought he had initially. Kepa was a massive problem, every shot that went on the goal looked like it was going in.
“The first six games he had five clean sheets, but in those six games he only had, I think, eight shots on his goal.
“What we’ve seen now in the last few games is mistakes starting to build, and he needs a mistake-free night.”
Carragher, too, also questioned his ability.
“I was [convinced he had solved the goalkeeping troubles] before these last three games,” said Carragher. “I must be honest, when you’ve brought him in, you’re thinking from Rennes, 28 years of age.
“It’s not late in his career, certainly as a goalkeeper, but you think could he have been spotted earlier in his career, how good is he really?
“He came in and made a massive difference, but I think any keeper coming in would’ve made a massive difference.
“I think what’s happened the last three weeks, it’ll be interesting to see how he deals with that himself really because with goalkeeping, it can spread throughout the team.
“I think he’s made a really good start, there’s no doubt he’s made a few mistakes of late, but all eyes will be on him now a lot more.”
Carragher was not wrong, all eyes are now on Mendy, but not in a negative light or for looking to pick out mistakes. All the focus is on him because he has played an integral role in Thomas Tuchel’s start to life in charge at Stamford Bridge.
Since Tuchel took over in January, the Blues have gone 11 games unbeaten, keeping clean sheets in nine of them. Of those nine clean sheets recorded, Mendy has claimed seven of them, with the latest coming in Monday night’s 2-0 home win over Everton.
The former Rennes shot-stopper’s latest clean-sheet has taken his tally for the season in all competitions to 18, with 13 of those coming in the Premier League. But to slightly caveat that, Mendy has had a well-drilled defence in front of him under Tuchel, giving him no shortage of protection. However, he has still had to play his part in barking out orders and keeping them in line.