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ADRIAN KAJUMBA: Mendy has set excellent standards at Chelsea but he’s now mired in a series of mistakes

Perhaps, given the record-breaking standards set by Edouard Mendy, it was inevitable that they would be nigh impossible to maintain.

The start of Chelsea’s Champions League season on Tuesday against Dinamo Zagreb is a timely reminder of that level, but also of the sometimes unbeatable, unflinching last line of defense they could have with Mendy’s return.

Just six years after claiming unemployment benefits and thinking he had no future in football, Mendy had risen remarkably up the French football ladder to join Chelsea in 2020.

Edouard Mendy joined Chelsea in 2020 and was quickly recognized as a world-class goalkeeper

Edouard Mendy joined Chelsea in 2020 and was quickly recognized as a world-class goalkeeper

Mendy, who was signed to compete with Kepa Arrizabalaga, did much more than that, replacing him as first choice and bringing some much-needed order to a position that had fallen into disarray.

Mendy helped Chelsea win the Champions League in his debut season and held a record nine goals against.

He was subsequently voted Goalkeeper of the Year 2021 by both UEFA and FIFA after making 27 shutouts and conceding just 34 goals in 51 games.

Mendy had been proposed to numerous clubs before joining Chelsea after statistically proving to be one of the best goalkeepers in the world.

Chelsea’s decision to sign him from Rennes was a triumph for clever recruitment rather than favoring reputation.

While the claims were pushed by Atletico Madrid’s incumbent Jan Oblak, former technical and performance adviser Petr Cech, a man who knows a thing or two about scoring goals for Chelsea and coming from Rennes, insisted Mendy was the better choice be.

The decision to side with Cech paid off, especially given Mendy’s £22million cost a fraction of Oblak’s £110million buyout fee.

But the 30-year-old now lets mistakes flow into his game, which have consequences

But the 30-year-old now lets mistakes flow into his game, which have consequences

Though Mendy is currently going through a period of aura-denting, condensed slips that have consequences.

Head coach Thomas Tuchel said: “Someone sent me an interesting quote about Napoleon asking his generals not only should they be of the best quality but he also needed them to be happy generals.

“You also need that from leaders and goalkeepers and that they have the momentum that a small mistake doesn’t get punished.

“Right now he’s being punished a lot for not much that he’s doing wrong.”

West Ham’s visit was a good example. Their goal came after Mendy plowed away a header, but only to Declan Rice, who hit goalscorer Michail Antonio.

Landing after his save, Mendy collided with Wesley Fofana and Marc Cucurella, leaving all three down and unable to prevent the goal.

Mendy later tried to bail out Reece James but only pushed the ball out for Maxwell Cornet to score. VAR controversially let Chelsea off the hook but Mendy was once again in the spotlight for his commitment.

Kepa Arrizabalaga has had to settle for a role on the bench but may get another chance

Kepa Arrizabalaga has had to settle for a role on the bench but may get another chance

Against Leicester, Mendy made a number of important saves in Chelsea’s 10-man win but was also lucky to have Harvey Barnes’ header ticked off after he allegedly fouled Chelsea’s goalkeeper to climb over him.

Against Leeds, Mendy dallyed the ball in the wrong place and allowed Brendan Aaronson to score at the wrong time.

Mendy has a revamped defense ahead of him, has his trusted source of support Cech no longer around and should have plenty of credit on the bench, but that might not be endless.

Waiting in the wings is Kepa, who remains at Chelsea after a roller-coaster spell and fails to secure a summer move.

He spontaneously took on a coaching role on the bench on Saturday, giving Kai Havertz some final advice before the German scored the winning goal.

But Tuchel, who wanted Kepa to stay, said: “He’s absolutely ready to play. So it’s up to us whether we give him the chance or not, it’s up to us, but he’s 100% ready, the way he’s behaving, the way he’s training is very, very good. For me there is no doubt.

Kai Havertz scored Chelsea's late winner as they beat West Ham at Stamford Bridge

Kai Havertz scored Chelsea’s late winner as they beat West Ham at Stamford Bridge

“The location is quiet. We have two fantastic goalkeepers, two fantastic guys. We are aware that he [Mendy] is in such a situation, but first we treat internally and then we tell you.’

Chelsea’s comeback, inspired by fellow submarine Ben Chilwell to equalize and then set up the winner, was commendable but a little overplayed.

Their intensity was a problem up until the substitutions and they had no choice but to try and they continued to struggle defending set pieces and creating chances.

Mendy, returning to his assured best, will at least assuage any concerns that Tuchel has in goal.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-11179295/MATT-BARLOW-Mendy-set-superb-standards-Chelsea-entrenched-rut-errors.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490&ito=1490 ADRIAN KAJUMBA: Mendy has set excellent standards at Chelsea but he’s now mired in a series of mistakes

Maureen Mackey

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