Christian Eriksen hits first Brentford goal to stun Chelsea in west London derby

Chelsea 1-4 Brentford: The Bees shocked the Blues to claim the spoils in the west London derby

<p>Brentford's Vitaly Janelt celebrates scoring</p>

Brentford's Vitaly Janelt celebrates scoring

As Chelsea laboured towards a 4-1 defeat against Brentford as remarkable as it was emphatic, the cameras lingered on the forlorn expressions of Bruce Buck, Marina Granovskaia and Petr Cech in the crowd. Within all the chaos that has surrounded the club as billionaires wrestle for its future, the football itself has almost become a sideshow. But on this chastening afternoon for Thomas Tuchel’s side, it became impossible to shield the players in the eye of the storm.

That will certainly be one explanation offered up for a miserable performance, even if there can be little excuse for the lethargy carried over from the international break. But it should certainly do nothing to detract from Brentford’s astonishing and deserved victory, which should all but ensure their Premier League safety.

They had controlled much of the first half only for Antonio Rudiger’s thunderbolt from 35 yards to break the deadlock shortly after the break. But rather than indulge in any sense of injustice, Thomas Frank’s side rallied in a blistering 11-minute spell that blew Chelsea away, with Vitaly Janelt’s two well-taken goals sandwiching an electric counterattack that was finished by Christian Eriksen; his first goal for the club since making such an emotive return. And for all that Chelsea attempted to offer a comeback of their own, their efforts always felt a little enervated, with Yoane Wissa deepening the sense of misery just before the final whistle.

It was a stunning upset that cannot solely be attributed to the ongoing saga away from the pitch, but there was no mistaking the unprecedented circumstances that shrouded this match. Fans gathered outside of Stamford Bridge ahead of kick-off to protest against the Ricketts family’s bid for the club. Some persisted with chants for Roman Abramovich.

It is a strange moral compass that separates Chelsea’s past from its future while it sits in limbo, an asset to be auctioned within the private confines of billionaires, far beyond the reach of the loyal fanbase who make up its lifeblood. Chelsea’s players themselves have been somewhat immune to the chaos, having won their last six league games in succession to shore up third place, but there was no avoiding that uncertainty here.

Antonio Rudiger celebrates scoring before Chelsea collapsed

Brentford, who surged from relegation candidates to within touching distance of safety prior to the international break, showed no such hesitation. They were sharp and slick, playing the sort of neat one-touch triangles Tuchel expects of his own side, and Chelsea were almost bystanders, second to every ball as Eriksen deftly commanded the midfield. The stalling even seemed to invade Edouard Mendy in goal, who dithered over a backpass and contrived to pass the ball straight to Ivan Toney. Almost stunned by the nature of the mistake, the striker’s first-time shot ballooned over the bar. He would still have two more fine chances in the opening ten minutes, owing largely to Eriksen’s artistry, but a low shot was well saved and a looping header failed to hit the target from six yards out.

Brentford were as impressive as Chelsea were lacklustre. Timo Werner, starting ahead of Romelu Lukaku and making his 50th Premier League appearance, offered incisive running but precious little end product. After all, for all that is changing at Chelsea, some cycles refuse to be broken. Mason Mount showed more instinct, fizzing a curling shot from the edge of the box wide of the post but in truth Chelsea’s start matched the muted atmosphere at Stamford Bridge. Only when Hakim Ziyech’s whipped shot was tipped over the bar by David Raya shortly before half-time was there a real jolt of life to an otherwise anaemic performance.

Brentford’s Vitaly Janelt hit back within minutes for the Bees

But like so often, it was Rudiger who supplied Chelsea with a shot of adrenaline. Just three minutes into the second half, he unleashed a ferocious swerving shot from 35 yards that thudded against the inside of the post and left Raya with no chance. It was wild, exquisite and aggressive in true Rudiger fashion and he ran to celebrate with Tuchel on the touchline.

At that point, you’d have assumed Chelsea might assert their dominance. Instead, they were left decidedly rocked by Brentford’s defiance. The equaliser arrived courtesy of a sweeping team move, with Mbeumo laying the ball off to Janelt who finished emphatically, rifling a first-time shot past Mendy.

Christian Eriksen (4-R) of Brentford celebrates with teammates after scoring

Then, just as Chelsea attempted to rally, they were cut open by a superb counterattack stemming from their own corner. Mbeumo picked up the ball deep in his own half, ran all the way to the edge of Chelsea’s box, drawing in three defenders en route, and squared a pass perfectly to Eriksen. The Dane lifted the ball over Mendy as though he’d never been away. It was his third goal in four games after starring for Denmark during the international break and there can be no doubts whatsoever over his enduring quality.

Rather than sitting back on their lead, there was no relent to Brentford’s onslaught. Toney turned from striker to architect, setting Janelt through on goal and, although Mendy got a hand to the midfielder’s dinked finish, it failed to divert its course away from goal. It was a magnificent passage of play that left Brentford’s fans ecstatic in their small corner of Stamford Bridge. The rest of the ground had all but been stunned into silence.

Chelsea still had time to mount a comeback, and nearly did before Kai Havertz’s goal was ruled out for handball, but Brentford were entirely deserving of all three points and there was already no doubt about the result when Wissa capped the victory with a fourth goal almost immediately after coming off the bench.

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