helsea failed to find a way through a physical Brentford side as they took a goalless draw away from home on Wednesday night.
Thomas Frank’s team missed the better chances with close-range headers from strikers Ivan Toney and Bryan Mbuemo saved by Kepa Arrizabalga.
Christian Pulisic, Kai Havertz and Carney Chukeumeka all had shots saved in the second half during Chelsea’s best spell.
It came in a match where Broja would make his first start for his boyhood club.
Nizaar Kinsella was at the Gtech Community Stadium to witness the action…
Kepa Arrizabalaga – 9
Kepa made a good save from Toney in the ninth minute, having already been under pressure from crosses and direct running behind the defence.
Made another huge stop to deny Toney in the 34th minute after the striker headed a clearance from Ruben Loftus-Cheek that went towards his own goal.
He produced another two big saves in the second half from close-range, off Mbeumo and Toney efforts, to truly show himself as a goalkeeper in top form.
Cesar Azpilicueta – 7
Almost looked to have given away a penalty early on but Mbeumo did look for the challenge. He had a long-range good shot saved by David Raya towards the end of the half and produced the most clearances of any Chelsea player on a busy defensive night.
Trevoh Chalobah – 7
Trevoh Chalobah played the ‘Thiago Silva role’ at the heart of the defense with the 38-year-old given the night off. Almost impossible shoes to fill, but…
Kalidou Koulibaly – 6
The former Napoli man struggled to cope with the speed and directness of Frank Onyeka in the first half. Probably the weakest link in the back three but still made some good last-ditch tackles under immense pressure.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek – 5
His bad touch let Toney in behind in the 14th minute and he seemed to struggle early on. He poorly blazed a shot over right at the end of the first half. Not his finest outing despite having played the wing-back position well under Thomas Tuchel.
Conor Gallagher – N/A
The 22-year-old was forced off in the 14th minute and appeared to have a knee problem, causing a concern ahead of Manchester United on Saturday.
However, it was instead a short-term illness issue that caused his early exit.
Jorginho – 6
The game bypassed him at times, with Brentford controlling a lot of that match and dominating physically.
Mason Mount – 5
Back in a deeper No8 role, he was not as involved in the attacking play as he has been in recent weeks. Largely nullified by Brentford and hauled off in the 62nd minute, perhaps resting him for Manchester United.
Marc Cucurella – 6
Cucurella was heavily involved early on with a host of attacks coming down his flank. He enjoyed the physical duels and handled them well despite his small stature. However, some of his positional play was exploited by Brentford.
Kai Havertz – 4
Involved in several physical duels early on, acquitted himself well physically but perhaps to the point of distraction. Not a goal threat whatsoever, though.
Armando Broja – 6
The 21-year-old made his first attacking action with an overhit cross in the 26th minute. Destroyed Ben Mee with his powerful dribbling in the 36th minute, ultimately leading to an Azpilicueta shot.
His outstanding ability to run in behind caused mayhem again in the 40th minute, overpowering Brentford’s defense before smashing a cross-shot out of Kai Havertz’s reach.
You could also tell it was his debut in certain actions as he snatched at chances in the final third.
Mateo Kovacic – 7
He wasn’t meant to be playing against Brentford but made a huge impact from the bench to increase the control in the game. One such moment was his impressive dribble midway through the first half to escape pressure. He was immaculate with the ball and had a long-range shot blocked in the second half.
Carney Chukwuemeka – 8
Showed his confidence in creating a transition shortly after coming on in the 62nd minute, linking up with Havertz. Almost won the match in stoppage time with a powerful low shot at a wide angle, saved by the feet of Raya.
Christian Pulisic – 6
A substitute for the ninth time this season, Pulisic almost created a goal scoring opportunity in the 78th minute. Had a good shot saved in the 89th minute that was spilled by Raya, almost falling to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Raheem Sterling – 5
Even after his struggles at Aston Villa, the England star came on to play as a wing-back in place of Cucurella. Unfortunately, he was too far away from the goal to be a threat.
Pierre Emerick Aubameyang – N/A
Unused subs: Mendy, Silva, Zakaria, Ziyech.