Champions League Group E: Chelsea v Rennes, Stamford Bridge, Wednesday, 8.0 – Live on BT Sport 2 and Virgin Media Two

When Chelsea last signed a goalkeeper from Rennes, back in 2004, he conceded one goal in his first eight games and instilled an immediate sense of assurance. Petr Cech would become a club legend.

Nobody is saying that Édouard Mendy, who moved to Stamford Bridge from Rennes in late September and faces his former club in the Champions League Group E on Wednesday, is about to become the next Cech. Yet he has made a good start to his Chelsea career – and if there is one thing that English football loves, it is a good start.

Perhaps it is the kneejerk nature of the judgments, the readiness to hail or castigate, but a good start lends a positive momentum to the narrative. It gives the fans something to believe in and, crucially, it slices through the pressure; it buys the new signing breathing space.

It has helped Mendy that the player he has replaced – Kepa Arrizabalaga – had become associated with unfortunate errors. To reinforce the point, when Mendy missed the home match against Southampton last month through injury, Arrizabalaga was at fault for one goal and the team were erratic in the 3-3 draw.

Otherwise, Mendy has played, he has “brought confidence to those around him”, in the words of the head coach, Frank Lampard, and he has let in one goal in his six games. “What he has shown so far has been very complete,” Lampard said.

First-half save

Lampard mentioned Mendy’s first-half save from Marcus Rashford in the 0-0 draw at Manchester United on the Saturday before last when he was quickly off his line to block with his feet. It was one of three important interventions in a man-of-the-match performance. But what has also pleased Lampard has been the focused and unfussy manner of Mendy’s work, the character that he has brought to the team.

“He’s given off a sense of calm in his distribution and his coming for crosses – things you just want from your goalkeeper,” Lampard said. “I think there is going to be a lot more to come. With his attitude, which is key . . . I’ve seen how he wants to work and the humility of him . . . he can go much further in many departments.

“When we were looking to sign him, all the feedback was that he had a strong personality in the dressing room and he is very low maintenance. He’s not asking a million questions but he’s asking enough which are relevant, little things about his relationship with the players around him. So I’ve really enjoyed that positive side, his engagement. It seems his personality is pretty laid-back with a tough edge when it comes to work.”

Chelsea’s defensive improvement has also been fired by Thiago Silva, another new signing who, apart from in the 3-3 draw at West Brom, has barely put a foot wrong. He was unruffled in Saturday’s 3-0 win at Burnley – which is traditionally a daunting away fixture.

“I was speaking a lot with Thiago about the style of game that Burnley would be,” Lampard said. “He was very interested to hear it and it showed me that as a top professional he wanted to prepare to the smallest detail.”

Lampard reported that Christian Pulisic’s hamstring injury was minor. The winger has returned to outdoor training, although he will not be available against Rennes. – Guardian



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