Thomas Tuchel was delighted with the all-round display of Saul Niguez as the Chelsea midfielder impressed in Tuesday's EFL Cup tie with Southampton.

Chelsea required a penalty shoot-out for the second round running in the competition, as Reece James' cool spot-kick ultimately sealed the Blues' progression to the last eight.

James' penalty sealed a 4-3 shoot-out win after Theo Walcott and Will Smallbone failed to convert their efforts following a 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge.

The five-time champions have now won all three of their matches against Southampton in the competition. The last such meeting was back in 1997-98, with Chelsea going on to lift the trophy that season.

Saul had played only once – against Malmo in the Champions League last week – since featuring against Aston Villa in the previous round, yet the Atletico Madrid loanee, who was taken off at half-time in his sole Premier League appearance, completed the full game.

He went close to opening the scoring with an excellent header six minutes in, forcing Fraser Forster into a top-class save.

Having seen another header saved just before the hour, Saul then had two attempts from the edge of the area in quick succession, with a crisp strike flashing just wide before Forster again denied the Spain international, diving to his right to keep out a shot that was dipping in.

Saul finished on four efforts in total, with a joint game-high three on target, and along with midfield partner Mateo Kovacic, the 26-year-old went in for a game-leading six tackles, completing three, though he did concede four fouls.

It was a performance that left Tuchel highly impressed.

"[He had] a good match, a huge step in the right direction for him," Tuchel told reporters.

"I am happy. We thought maybe he would be struggling with the intensity at the 70th minute but he got better and better, had chances and shots.

"We thought let's keep him and give him the minutes. It was a good step for him."

Tuchel explained that Chelsea's options were limited after three players who could have started – Cesar Azpilicueta, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Andreas Christensen – were unable to train ahead of the match.

"Azpi injured his shoulder, let's see," Tuchel said. "We hope he will be fit, he is a tough guy. Maybe he will be fit Saturday [for the game against Newcastle United]. Ruben has a pain in his hip, in his joint. Andreas had tooth surgery and should be fine to train on Thursday."

Chelsea had 23 shots in total, with 14 on target – Forster pulling off 13 saves in total and only beaten by Kai Havertz's header. Southampton, who equalised through Che Adams, had plenty of chances themselves, however, with Kepa Arrizabalaga making six stops.

"It was an intense match of football, nice to watch for the spectators," Tuchel added. "It was an open fight, an intense match. We did a good shootout, a lot of quality. I liked the energy today, it was a good game."

Thomas Tuchel wants Chelsea's players to continue proving their quality after watching them run riot against Norwich City.

Shorn of the injured Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner, Chelsea made light work of lowly Norwich at Stamford Bridge, with Mason Mount scoring a hat-trick in a 7-0 win.

It was the fourth time Chelsea have won a Premier League game by seven or more goals and the first time since December 2012 against Aston Villa (8-0), with only Manchester United netting seven or more goals in more Premier League games.

Mount opened and rounded off the scoring, with strikes from Callum Hudson-Odoi, Reece James, Ben Chilwell and an own goal from Max Aarons wedged in between.

Chelsea's win lifted them four points clear at the top for at least a few hours, and though pleased with the display, Tuchel wants the same level of performance when the Blues take on Southampton in the EFL Cup on Tuesday.

He told BT Sport: "Yes, a good performance, we were sharp, put in a lot of effort.

"High-pressing, [we] played a high rhythm and created a lot of chances and we were very precise. It was a deserved win. To score seven you need a bit of luck and momentum, but a good game.

"This will not stop, this is only one game and the next one follows on Tuesday here, up for a challenge again and they will have to prove it again. All the credit, but it's only one game."

Mount had not scored since netting in a 2-0 Champions League win over Real Madrid in May, but he was the star of the show against the hapless Canaries, who also had Ben Gibson sent off.

He had more shots (five) and efforts on target (four) than any other player, while his tally of three key passes trailed only Mateo Kovacic (six).

Tuchel said: "It's good, because no matter what the coach says and how many good opportunities you have, how satisfied the coach is, the offensive guys need goals to feel fully happy, full confidence.

"He waited long, too long, and it was good that he got some goals today."

Tuchel had concerns about fatigue with Mount, and he added: "I don't think it was a matter of now he is fresh and yesterday he was tired. For now it's a process, we are still in between international breaks, I think it's normal. It's a status that will not change from one game to the other.

"I agree that today he looked fresh and it was good to put him on the pitch. We need to be careful with these players ... who play important roles in their national teams and have a lot of competitions."

Mount added: "Before the game I was putting pressure on myself to get on the scoresheet because it's been quite a long time since I did, and then three come around in the same game.

"I don't think I've ever scored more than one in a game for Chelsea, so it's obviously a massive moment for me to get three, I'll remember this for a long time.

"You put pressure on yourself. I was always getting in the positions to score, but I just wasn't putting it in the back of the net, and I just thought there'd be a game where it was going to come off and today was the day.

"It was my luck today, and obviously the team as well, not just me. The way we played today, I spoke before about intensity, an early kick-off, being at it from the beginning and we were like that today."

Chelsea did not miss Romelu Lukaku or Timo Werner as the Premier League leaders made light work of 10-man Norwich City in a 7-0 rout, with Mason Mount scoring a hat-trick.

A side starting the day bottom of the league has not beaten the team at the top since February 2011, and Norwich never looked likely to halt that run at Stamford Bridge as Thomas Tuchel's side cruised to their biggest win of the season with ease.

Mount and Callum Hudson-Odoi got things started with their first league goals of the campaign, with Ben Chilwell scoring for a fourth successive top-flight match after fellow wing-back Reece James got in on the act.

Max Aarons' own goal and Ben Gibson's red card made life even more miserable for Norwich, with Mount doubling his tally from the spot before rounding off his hat-trick in stoppage time.

It took Chelsea just eight minutes to take the lead, as Mount allowed Jorginho's lay-off to run across him before planting a firm strike into the bottom-left corner.

Mateo Kovacic's weighted throughball teed up Hudson-Odoi for a cool finish across Tim Krul 10 minutes later, with Mount turning provider for Chelsea's third, sliding a perfect ball through to James, who chipped in with aplomb. 

After making an error that allowed Milot Rashica to test Edouard Mendy, Chilwell quickly atoned at the other end, drilling in a low finish to continue his brilliant scoring form.

Aarons' deflection on Hudson-Odoi's cross-shot did for Krul, who spilled over his own line, before Gibson – only 10 minutes after he had first been cautioned – dived in late on James.

Mathias Normann's handball handed Chelsea a spot-kick and, though Krul initially saved Mount's effort, the goalkeeper had come off his line, and Norwich's goalkeeper was unable to keep out the second attempt.

There was time for one more, Ruben Loftus-Cheek beating the offside trap and cutting back for Mount to slot in his third.

Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel insisted his comments about a possible Romelu Lukaku-Erling Haaland partnership were a "joke" as he tried to play down speculation linking the European champions with the Borussia Dortmund star.

Tuchel this week said Chelsea had discussed a move for Haaland and did not rule out partnering the in-demand Norwegian forward with Lukaku at Stamford Bridge.

However, Tuchel backtracked on those comments as Chelsea prepare to host Norwich City in the Premier League on Saturday.

"I fell into a trap," Tuchel told reporters, referencing his Bild interview. "I got an award in Germany. I got an award from a newspaper and they asked me about a player.

"Normally I never, never speak about other players because simply I never, ever do.

"Then we were making more or less fun about it. I should have known better because [I was] making fun about it and being a nice guy and answering a question instead of 'no, I don't want to answer a question'.

"Getting this award and I joke about a double striker with Romelu in October and then it gets like we put in an offer. That was the context but OK, I should have known better."

Haaland has 70 goals in 69 games for Dortmund since his arrival in January last year, only Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski (89 goals in 74 games) has a better return among players from Europe's top-five leagues.

In this season's Bundesliga, Haaland surpassed his expected goal (xG)-value by 2.9 (nine goals, 6.1 xG) – only Bayer Leverkusen sensation Florian Wirtz eclipsed his value (3.0), per Opta.

Since Haaland joined Dortmund, he exceeded his xG-value (38.7) in the Bundesliga by 10.3. It is the highest value of a player in Europe's top-five leagues in this time.

Since Haaland's arrival in Dortmund, he has scored 13 Bundesliga goals after carries – in Europe's top-five leagues, it is only bettered by six-time Ballon d'Or winner Lionel Messi (15).

In the 2021-22 league campaign, Haaland is one of four players who has been involved on 10 open-play sequences which ended in a goal – together with Hoffenheim's Andrej Kramaric, Bayern veteran Thomas Muller and Wirtz.

"It is interesting that we as German staff, we become very humble when we see the difference in performance in the Bundesliga and obviously how much harder it is to produce the same numbers in the Premier League," Tuchel added.

"It is, by the way, the big question in every transfer you do. This player performs in Germany, Spain, Italy or the other way around in England, can he also perform in the other country, the other culture, in the other team, in the other style of football? That is for me one of the big questions because you can scout them on any physical, mental level, do tests with them and observe them, how they behave.

"On social media, they let you observe their lives so you know pretty much everything except for the fact what does it mean if you perform in club A in country B, what does it mean for your club C in country D? This will be the question.

"Every player is different so to make it a general rule, it is maybe not possible but it seems it is the toughest league here and to produce outstanding stats. This cannot be a surprise. You are proud to have this league in England and you should be. It is big fun to watch and maybe bigger fun to work in it. That's the way it is."

Thomas Tuchel has confirmed Chelsea will be without Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner for at least the next two matches.

Club-record signing Lukaku was injured by a tackle from Lasse Nielsen that resulted in a penalty Jorginho confidently dispatched to add to Andreas Christensen's opener in Wednesday's 4-0 thrashing of Malmo in the Champions League.

Kai Havertz replaced Lukaku and scored Chelsea's third before playing a role in another spot-kick for the Blues converted by Jorginho, though Chelsea also lost Werner to a hamstring injury.  

Chelsea face the Premier League's bottom side Norwich City on Saturday, before going up against Southampton in the EFL Cup on Tuesday.

Though Tuchel refused to put a definitive timescale on the return of his two first-choice strikers, the former Paris Saint-Germain boss revealed neither will play a part in the two games.

"They're both out for tomorrow, all three of them are out for tomorrow," Tuchel told a news conference, also referring to Christian Pulisic, who has been out since suffering an ankle injury while on international duty in September.

"No big news, for Romelu and Timo the thing I can say is they are out tomorrow and the Southampton game and from there we will see what's next.

"I don't think it makes any sense to speculate how long it will be. The fact is you never know, things can be shorter or longer than expected. The one thing I can tell you for sure is both are in treatment, both are positive but are out for the next two games for sure."

Tuchel's decision to play Lukaku against Malmo has been questioned, with the striker having recently left Belgium's Nations League Finals camp early due to muscle fatigue.

With Chelsea's fixtures before the next international break comparatively kind - trips to Newcastle United and Malmo follow the Southampton match, before a home game with Burnley on November 6 - Tuchel was asked if Lukaku's enforced break had come at a good time.

"No, never a good thing, honestly never a good thing," Tuchel continued.

"Mentally, he was a bit overplayed, like other players in our squad, but that does not mean we have to rest them. Jorginho and Mason Mount are in the same spot but they played a fantastic match, so it is like this, they played a lot of competitions with a lot of enthusiasm and personal targets.

"It was not a muscle injury, it was an accident. It is just some percentage, don't underestimate the effort these players go through. 

"If you constantly turn the wheel, and the guy wants to turn it, take the responsibility, you can get tired. These little things can make a difference."

Chelsea allowed three forwards, Tammy Abraham, Olivier Giroud and Michy Batshuayi to leave in the last transfer window, but Tuchel has no regrets over that decision.

"You cannot keep a squad of 40 players," he added. "If you think Oli, Tammy and Michy would be in the perfect shape now, but hadn't made it into the 20-man squad, then would they be in the perfect shape?

"Of course in theory it would be like this, but [not] in real life. Nobody wants this to happen, it's a bit of bad luck that we have two injured players in the same position, we have to find solutions, there is no worry about the decisions."

Thomas Tuchel has urged Kai Havertz to shine as he gets the opportunity to lead the line for Chelsea with Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner out injured.

Premier League leaders Chelsea host struggling Norwich City on Saturday without those two forwards, who were injured during the 4-0 Champions League victory over Malmo on Wednesday.

Tuchel confirmed Lukaku and Werner will miss at least two games each and suggested it would be Havertz who fills the void after netting against Malmo.

Havertz has only started four of his side's eight league matches this season, scoring once while yet to register an assist, creating only one chance for his team-mates across 320 minutes of action.

Tuchel explained performances were the reason for the Germany international's lack of action and urged him to show his talent in the upcoming games with Norwich and Southampton to build on his last display.

"To speak the truth, there is only one way to make it to the pitch and stay on the pitch, that's performance," Tuchel said at his pre-match news conference.

"Kai was not at his highest level, others were closer to their level, so it was necessary he waited some matches - we felt other guys were in better shape. 

"He did what he needed to do, worked hard, showed resilience, determination to be more decisive, then he got minutes against Brentford, then he scored and was dangerous against Malmo. 

"Here we go, there's so much talent, so much potential and he needs to show it, it is as easy as that. 

"You get the minutes you deserve and the only thing to make it to the team is performance."

Chelsea have won 10 of their last 12 Premier League games against Norwich (D2), last losing against them in the top flight back in 1994. 

Tuchel believes Havertz, who scored the winning goal against Manchester City in the Champions League final at the end of last season, can serve as a similar focal point to Lukaku against the Canaries.

He added: "For me it's not so much a false nine because Kai is also very strong, in the last line, behind the last line, arriving in the box. 

"For me it's a big strength of his, we want this from him and he did against Malmo, so this is more what we expect from him on Saturday. 

"If you have Romelu in the squad, he is the reference you work around. We don't have him, the game will be a bit different but we want the same power, same amount of people in the box when we finish our attacks. 

"For me that does not change."

No side has conceded fewer goals than Chelsea in the Premier League this season (three), while Norwich have the worst attack so far (two goals scored). 

But Norwich will go to Stamford Bridge looking to keep three consecutive Premier League clean sheets for the first time since November 2012, the third game of which was a 1-0 victory against the side who were leading the league at that time, Manchester United.

Thomas Tuchel rallied Chelsea's bit-part players by telling them "the race is on" to prove themselves after Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner were injured.

Lukaku sustained an ankle injury and Werner hurt his hamstring during the first half of the 4-0 home victory over Malmo in Champions League Group H on Wednesday.

Belgium striker Lukaku was injured by a tackle from Lasse Nielsen that resulted in a penalty Jorginho confidently dispatched to add to Andreas Christensen's opener. 

Kai Havertz replaced Lukaku and scored Chelsea's third before playing a role in another spot-kick for the Blues that was converted by Jorginho. 

Chelsea have five games to come over the next 17 days and Tuchel said there can be no excuses for a decline in results if Lukaku and Werner are sidelined for an extended period. 

"We have a twisted ankle with Romelu and a hamstring injury for Timo, so they will be out for some days, I guess," Tuchel told BT Sport. 

"Normally we're in a good place injury-wise – we had only Christian Pulisic out. But we miss everybody. We have a lot of games to play, a lot of competitions. Now we have to find solutions. No excuses accepted. 

"The two were in good shape and were dangerous and could create and score. Now we need to find solutions and guys who waited for their chance need to step up and prove that they can do the same thing. 

"Whoever it might be, the race is on. The guys who will start against Norwich in the next game have our trust. We will try to find new solutions. 

"Let's stay positive. We won games before without Timo and we won games before without Romelu. We don't want to have these problems too often but these things happen in the season." 

Havertz could now be in line to start against Norwich City in the Premier League on Saturday. 

He said: "I came from the bench, you always have to be ready, it is always tough to come in but I tried to do my best in the second half to score a goal, so it is a nice feeling. 

"Timo said they have to do an MRI tomorrow, they are top-level strikers and I hope it's not too bad for them." 

Chelsea cruised to a 4-0 victory over Malmo in Champions League Group H on Wednesday despite losing Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner to injuries. 

After Andreas Christensen scored his first Chelsea goal in his 137th appearance for the club, Lukaku had to go off with an apparent ankle injury after winning a penalty that was fired home by Jorginho. 

Kai Havertz replaced the Belgium international and, after Werner was substituted due to a hamstring issue, increased their lead early in the second half. 

Ballon d'Or nominee Jorginho converted another spot-kick to round off the scoring before the hour mark, though Chelsea remain three points behind group leaders Juventus after the Italian side left it late to beat Zenit 1-0. 

The offside flag spared Werner's blushes after a miskick inside the six-yard box but Chelsea were soon ahead when Christensen volleyed fellow centre-back Thiago Silva's cross into the top-right corner. 

Chelsea were awarded a penalty when Lasse Nielsen scythed down Lukaku in the box and Jorginho confidently sent his spot-kick straight down the middle. 

The Blues suffered another injury blow before half-time with Werner appearing to pull his hamstring while sprinting into the box to support Havertz. 

Havertz was unable to take that opportunity but he got the better of Ismael Diawara – who replaced goalkeeper Johan Dahlin at half-time – three minutes after the restart, dinking fellow substitute Callum Hudson-Odoi's pass in off the post. 

Referee Francois Letexier pointed to the spot again after Eric Larsson bundled Antonio Rudiger over in the box and Jorginho once more produced an unerring finish.

Tuchel took the chance to give N'Golo Kante, Cesar Azpilicueta and Ben Chilwell a rest in the closing stages, with Chelsea seeing out a resounding victory at a canter. 

What does it mean? Chelsea must rely on depth 

With six games to play in the next 17 days, it is unlikely Tuchel will rush Lukaku and Werner back into action even if their injuries are only minor. 

However, the two strikers have struggled for form in recent weeks and Christensen's goal made him Chelsea's 14th different goalscorer this season. 

Havertz also proved himself adept at leading the line, scoring once and play a key role in winning the second penalty. 

Tuchel joins elite group 

This was Tuchel's 10th Champions League game in charge of Chelsea and having kept a clean sheet they have conceded just three times under the German. It is the joint-fewest through a coach's first 10 games for a single club in the competition, joining Fabio Capello (Milan) and Jose Mourinho (Real Madrid). 

Havertz a handful 

No player has scored more goals for Chelsea under Tuchel than Havertz - though Jorginho and Mason Mount also have six. He was a persistent threat during his 70 minutes on the pitch, as he scored and created the chance for Rudiger that resulted in the second penalty. 

What's next? 

Even if Lukaku and Werner are unavailable, Chelsea will feel confident about their chances of securing a result at home to Norwich City in the Premier League on Saturday. 

Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel says the club have discussed a move for Erling Haaland and has not ruled out partnering the Borussia Dortmund striker with Romelu Lukaku at Stamford Bridge.

Haaland was touted as a target for a number of European heavyweights during the most recent transfer window on the back of a first full campaign with Dortmund that saw him register 41 goals in the same number of appearances in all competitions.

The 21-year-old has 70 goals in 69 games for the German club overall since making his debut in January 2020 – only Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski (88 goals in 73 games) has a better return among players from Europe's top five leagues.

He still has two and a half years to run on his contract at Signal Iduna Park and Dortmund were under no pressure to sell their prolific marksman in the close season after offloading Jadon Sancho to Manchester United for £72.9million (€85m).

However, a rumoured release clause of €75m will come into effect at the end of the current campaign and Tuchel indicated Chelsea could still make a move for the in-demand striker.

"We talked about Erling Haaland a couple of times, including during the transfer window. But then it seemed absolutely unrealistic and not at all feasible," he told Sport Bild.

"We still talk about him regularly, of course, because he's a fantastic player and clearly the defining figure at Dortmund, who are a big rival for us in the Champions League."

 

Chelsea instead re-signed Romelu Lukaku from Inter ahead of the 2021-22 campaign and the Belgium international has scored four goals in his first 10 games back in west London.

Lukaku's minutes-per-goal return of 129.04 at club level since January 2020 is among the best in Europe, but it is still some way off Haaland's 81.74.

Asked if the pair could play alongside each other in the same side, Tuchel said: "We can talk about it. I don't think we've been really serious about it yet, but let's see what will happen in the next few weeks."

Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel feels that Romelu Lukaku is suffering from the effects of being overplayed.

The centre-forward started each of Belgium's five games at Euro 2020 and has since featured in two World Cup qualification fixtures and a Nations League semi-final for his country.

In addition, Lukaku was Inter's fourth-most used player last season across all competitions, playing 3,564 minutes as the Nerazzurri won Serie A, and has already played 810 minutes in all tournaments for Chelsea this term.

The 28-year-old scored four goals in his first four appearances for the Blues, but has failed to find the net in his subsequent six outings in all competitions.

"At the moment, in my opinion, I feel Romelu has [been] overplayed," Tuchel said ahead of Chelsea's Champions League clash with Malmo. "I think he has played in too many competitions over the summer, too many with the national team and now he's played in the Nations League.

"He is a fantastic athlete and such a competitive guy, he digs in deep and he wants to win these things, he wants to be out there and win so I know how much he wanted a good outcome at the European Championship with Belgium and the Nations League. 

"It means a lot to him to play for his country so he takes it really serious if it does not work well. He puts it on his shoulders, he thinks about it and reflects about it.

"I feel that he is a bit mentally tired, not that hugely that we have a concern but he's not like fully enjoying without having second or third thoughts. He will find his rhythm once he finds things a bit easier."

After a strong start, Chelsea have lost two of their last four games and Tuchel feels the whole squad is feeling the effects of a congested fixture schedule.

"It's the same for some other players too, they struggle too, they have a lot of weight for their countries and they love it, they are competitors," Tuchel continued.

"I think we lack a little bit of form and we lack a bit of enthusiasm in the last per cent and I think the one big reason is because we play too much, not we as a club but the players.

"I'm a big friend of quality not quantity so this is the situation we are facing right now but it's nothing new and the next national break is coming soon and it won't change.

"The Premier League is the toughest in the world, there is no shame in having a tight match at Brentford, there's absolutely no shame that you need a late winner at Southampton, it is what it is.

"It's very important that we don't feel ashamed and not too critical of ourselves, you fight through the hard moments.

"We lack a bit of form, we lack a bit of freshness and a bit of joy, for me, the key reason is not mentality, it's not attitude, it's nothing else but the travels, it can be tiring."

Chelsea host Swedish side Malmo at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday in what will be the Blues' 13th competitive fixture of the season. Christian Pulisic is the only player unavailable to Tuchel after sustaining an injury on international duty with the USA.

Edouard Mendy should have been included on the Ballon d'Or shortlist, but Thomas Tuchel hopes it does not bother the Chelsea goalkeeper. 

Senegal international Mendy kept nine clean sheets during Chelsea's triumphant Champions League campaign last season – more than any other keeper in the competition. His save percentage of 91.2 also led the way among keepers to play at least six games in the 2020-21 edition of Europe's premier club competition. 

While Chelsea team-mates Cesar Azpilicueta, Jorginho, N'Golo Kante and Mason Mount were named on the 30-man shortlist for the Ballon d'Or, Mendy was left out. 

But he produced a display worthy of such recognition during Chelsea's 1-0 victory over Brentford on Saturday, making six saves to earn his 20th clean sheet in his 38th Premier League start. In the competition's history, only Petr Cech (26), Pepe Reina (32), Alisson (36) and Roy Carroll (37) needed fewer starts to hit that milestone. 

Tuchel believes Mendy should be in the running for the most coveted individual prize in men's football, but he is not overly concerned by his omission and does not think his keeper should be either. 

Asked if Mendy should have made the shortlist, Tuchel told a news conference: "Yes, but I'm happy and it is more important that he performs like this than he is on any list. 

"It should not, I hope it does not, bother him because it does not bother me too much and it seems like he is not influenced by that, which is a good thing. 

"I think that we could be on that list as a whole team because we won that trophy as a team and if we have five names or six names, I feel that we won it as 21 guys and everybody played his role. That's how football works. 

"Today we relied heavily on him again. He is the guy he is and everybody is so happy for him that he can help us. So everything is good." 

Mendy's best saves came in the final 20 minutes as Chelsea clung on for maximum points after Ben Chilwell's thunderous strike on the stroke of half-time.

Antonio Rudiger, who was absent for Chelsea after sustaining an injury while representing Germany during the international break, made his feelings clear about Mendy's Ballon d'Or snub on social media after the Blues' victory. 

"Someone explain why he's not nominated for the Ballon d'Or," Rudiger tweeted. "What a performance... EDOUARD MENDY." 

Ben Chilwell kept up his scoring streak but gave all the credit to Edouard Mendy after the Chelsea goalkeeper defied Brentford with a string of vital saves, securing a valuable three points. 

Chelsea's 1-0 win against their west London rivals came thanks to Chilwell's fine strike in the 45th minute, his third goal in his past three games. 

Mendy produced six saves to preserve what Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel described as "not the cleanest sheet we ever had". 

The shutout was Mendy's 20th in the Premier League from just 38 starts. In the competition's history, only Petr Cech (26), Pepe Reina (32), Alisson (36) and Roy Carroll (37) have needed fewer starts to reach 20 clean sheets, Opta said. 

"It was pretty much Hell on Earth for the last 20 minutes but we did well," Chilwell said. 

"I think we've got Edou to thank. In the last 25 minutes he was superb. He's amazing. We see it every day in training, but he's getting the credit he deserves in these sorts of games where he makes the big saves and gets us the three points in the end." 

Using Opta's expected goals on target model, Mendy can be shown to have prevented 3.5 goals this season, more than any other keeper in the Premier League. 

Chelsea lead the way in the Premier League with 19 points from eight games, just the start they were seeking as they attempt to follow up last season's Champions League triumph with a strong domestic campaign. 

Chilwell, back in favour and showing his value with two goals for Chelsea either side of a maiden strike for England against Andorra, said: "I'm happy to get on the scoresheet. Defensively it was tough today, but we showed our steel and showed how strong we are defensively." 

Tuchel told Sky Sports that Chelsea could have managed the last quarter of the game in a better way, rather than allowing Brentford to dictate the tempo. 

Brentford's Bryan Mbeumo hit the post twice in the match. He has now been denied by the frame of the goal six times in the Premier League this season – more than any club in the competition. 

"In the end, the last 20 minutes, it was suddenly a cup game. They had nothing to lose and they felt the belief and felt the momentum with the crowd," Tuchel said. 

"Suddenly it seemed like we had one player less on the field. They brought six or seven guys into the box constantly. We were not clear enough in the challenges. They played with the energy like in a cup game. We focused too much on defending. 

"I was very, very happy with the first 65 or 70 minutes. We should have maybe scored one more but it can happen – respect to Brentford in the end. 

"It was not the cleanest sheet we ever had but very, very important to get the three points, so it was up to Edou." 

Tuchel is not reading much into his team's lofty standing in the league table, given Liverpool and Manchester City are in close pursuit. 

He said: "It's better to be there than the other way round. But it's too early, and there are way too many teams that are close, so with every draw and every loss you can lose three or four positions, so it's not the main point now in October. 

"It was a late win but a deserved win today. We needed a bit of luck in the last 20 minutes but I'm happy with the energy – I can recognise us and I'm happy with the way we play." 

Romelu Lukaku is fit for Chelsea's trip to Brentford on Saturday but a frustrated Thomas Tuchel has revealed Antonio Rudiger will join fellow centre-back Thiago Silva in missing out.

Superstar striker Lukaku withdrew from Belgium duty with muscle fatigue and was a doubt for the Premier League leaders' short hop across west London.

However, Blues boss Tuchel told a pre-match news conference: "Romelu is fine, had all training sessions, he will play tomorrow."

The news was not so positive on Rudiger, though, after he came back from his time with Germany with a back issue.

Christian Pulisic remains out, while Hakim Ziyech has been struggling with headaches.

"Toni Rudiger came back injured from the national team, Christian Pulisic is still injured, we have doubts of Ziyech – he missed two sessions with a headache," Tuchel said.

Veteran centre-back Silva is also absent having featured in Brazil's 4-1 World Cup qualifying win over Uruguay on Thursday night. 

The short turnaround between that clash and Saturday's fixture is a source of frustration for Tuchel, who says the situation is one he has learned to contend with.

"He will be back in the afternoon hopefully safe from this match in Brazil," he said of Silva.

"We had our talk today about Brentford, we had our tactical talk, he missed all that. He played 90 minutes, had all that travelling, he is not available. 

"Of course, I'm not happy, but I knew before when he will come back, when he will travel. I got used to a lot of stuff in national breaks, this is how it is. Are we happy all the coaches with the games players play for their countries? No, they [are] not. Do they ask us anything? No. I knew it before.

"We speak about it during UEFA coaches meetings. The calendar, you have to accept it.

"I'm not even too frustrated about it, but I think it's too many games, too many competitions for the top players in the clubs. The game is for the players, for the spectators, and spectators want the best players on the pitch, healthy and hungry, and we cannot always provide it if you play so many games in so many competitions.

"Given we only have three [substitute] changes, unlike five in other leagues, it's a big thing we have to cope with.

"I'm actually not too frustrated, I know what's coming, I know when the next international break is coming, we try to do our best in every international break."

Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel believes Jorginho is the player most deserving of this year's Ballon d'Or, but does not believe the award should be seen as hugely important.

The 29-year-old won the Champions League with the Blues and Euro 2020 with Italy last season and was handed the UEFA Men's Player of the Year prize as a result.

Midfielder Jorginho is now in contention for another individual gong after being named on the Ballon d'Or's 30-man shortlist alongside the likes of Lionel Messi and Robert Lewandowski.

"Jorginho really deserves to win the Ballon d'Or," Tuchel said while attending the Gazzetta festival. 

"These individual prizes, however, are not of great value on the football field, it is impossible to make a real comparison.

"Obviously, I would like it if my player wins it, because it would greatly increase the confidence he has in his own means, but for me, it is not an essential thing."

N'Golo Kante, Cesar Azpilicueta, Mason Mount and Romelu Lukaku also represent Chelsea on the shortlist for the prestigious prize, and Tuchel had plenty to say about Lukaku, who returned to Stamford Bridge from Inter in August.

"I'm sorry for the Inter fans, but we have identified in him a player of personality who could also lift the pressure from the shoulders of the youngest and who would give us the opportunity to play football faster," Tuchel added. 

"He had always said he was fine with Inter and with [Antonio] Conte because he had achieved excellent results, but for him, it was important to go back to where he had played as a [young man]." 

Lukaku has made a solid start to life back in London, scoring four goals in nine appearances across all competitions in his second stint as a Chelsea player.

 

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