What Edouard Mendy did against Aston Villa to prove he will be as important as Romelu Lukaku

What Edouard Mendy did against Aston Villa to prove he will be as important as Romelu Lukaku

Romelu Lukaku delivered exactly what he was signed for.

The Belgian forward didn’t see too much of the ball and wasn’t given much opportunity to test the Aston Villa goal but produced two very impressive strikes to beat Jed Steer. £97.5 million is looking worth every penny so far as the Blues comfortably outperformed their expected goal tally of 1.4.

Quite frankly the Belgian will be a gamechanger this season.

But there is another, more than living up this value, even if he wasn’t signed just this summer.

Edouard Mendy was signed for just £22 million. For many he was seen as a stop gap following Kepa Arrizabalaga’s troubles. Now he stops pretty much everything coming his way.

The Senegalese international pulled off a series of impressive saves, in a game where Aston Villa comfortably had more shots than the Blues.

When Tyrone Mings struck the ball in the opening half, it seemed destined to make the net rustle and when Mendy defied the flight of the ball, Ezri Konsa’s mishit looked awkward enough to loop over the line.

The 29-year-old had other ideas has he lay on the ground, and stumbling backwards, struggling back to his fee, Mendy found a way to reach the ball and force it out for a corner.

It was a double-save which showed quality and commitment – the confidence not to be beaten. The Chelsea glovesman made four more saves over the course of 90 minutes, all from shots within the box, and matched his highest tally of stops in a Chelsea shirt.

The former Rennes goalkeeper matched a record he had set in the Blues’ last outing against Liverpool. 12 saves in two matches, and the only goal he has conceded is a penalty.

Indeed, Mendy is the only Premier League goalkeeper with two or more appearances yet to concede from open play this season. Not just through the strength in some of Chelsea’s defensive work, but because he has made the joint most saves in the division (16).

There will be games where Thomas Tuchel’s side can blow the opposition away with exhuberant quality. The last two games haven’t been like that and Mendy had done his job.

Under Thomas Tuchel, Mendy has more clean sheets (17) than conceded goals (15). It’s a combination that is certainly working.

Chelsea sit second in the table, only behind Manchester United on goal difference. The Blues have conceded the fewest goals so far, along with Manchester City and Liverpool. That trio of teams accounts for every league title since Antonio Conte lead Chelsea to the title in 2016/17.

A lot was put into this game to see how Tuchel’s side had grown since defeat to Villa on the final day of last season. Dean Smith’s team came away 2-1 victors that day. On Saturday, Chelsea had half as many shots and conceded triple the amount of strikes they did in May.

Despite that, the result was immeasurably better.

Lukaku’s goals will win games. Mendy’s saves will ensure Chelsea are always in them.

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