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Oct 16, 2021 at 5.30pm UK
BrentfordBrentford
0-1
ChelseaChelsea

Canos (32')
FT(HT: 0-1)
Chilwell (45')
Kovacic (18')

How did Chelsea defender Malang Sarr perform on his Premier League debut?

:Headline: How did Chelsea defender Malang Sarr perform on his Premier League debut?:
Malang Sarr finally made his Premier League debut for Chelsea against Brentford, but how did the defender perform after a 416-day wait?
Sports Mole

When Chelsea won the hotly-contested race to sign Malang Sarr on a free transfer on August 27 last year, it was perceived that the Blues had pulled off somewhat of a coup after the Frenchman's performances for Ligue 1 side Nice.

However, the 22-year-old was subsequently loaned out to Porto and everything went downhill from there. Sarr made just 14 appearances in all competitions, just five of those outings coming from the opening whistle in Portugal's top flight, and there appeared somewhat of an inevitability about a second successive temporary spell elsewhere.

That was until several clubs failed to put together a suitable proposal, and the left-sided defender faced the realistic prospect of no first-team football until January.

Thomas Tuchel had other ideas, however. Sarr played the full 90 minutes as Chelsea progressed past Aston Villa in the EFL Cup, and that performance was solid enough to convince his head coach that he could be called upon against Brentford on Saturday evening.

In a match which Chelsea won by a 1-0 scoreline, how did Sarr fare on what was a Premier League debut which was 416 days in the making?


DEFENDING

Brentford would have regarded Sarr as the weak link in the Chelsea defence, but they were in for a surprise as he imposed himself during the opening quarter.

After a strong tackle on Ivan Toney in the fourth minute, Sarr made a couple of well-timed challenges on Bryan Mbeumo, one of them preventing the attacker from sprinting clear on goal.

Another instinctive interception was made soon afterwards, and he soon renewed acquaintances with his compatriot in the second half by winning a foot race and using his strength to good effect.

However, as the game entered the final half-hour, Sarr's concentration begun to wane, and a mistimed headed back-pass was followed by a wild challenge on the touchline.

Sarr ended a poor period by getting across to the other side of the penalty to see off the threat of Toney, the Frenchman unfortunate not to win a free kick for his troubles.

With Chelsea's back to the wall in the final 15 minutes, Sarr did not give the best account of himself with Marcus Forss and Pontus Jansson dominating him in the air. Nevertheless, thanks to the brilliance of Edouard Mendy, he came away with a clean sheet.



WITH THE BALL

Sarr needed to do whatever he felt was necessary to feel comfortable, and that involved plenty of short to medium length passes around the halfway line.

Chelsea as a team needed to get used to a left-footer playing on the left-hand side of a back three, as well as someone who was not so keen on making the same marauding runs as Antonio Rudiger.

With Ben Chilwell being allowed to wonder in-field, there were opportunities for Sarr to progress into the left wing-back position. He was not always used, but it was another player to occupy Brentford's attention.

Once Brentford started to dominate in the final half-hour, Sarr did nothing of note with the ball, instead trying to manage his fitness levels and concentration without it.


KEY MOMENTS

For all of his good work in the match, Sarr will likely be criticised for his contribution during the final 20 minutes.

Mbeumo got away from his marker in the 75th minute, hitting the post with his subsequent shot. However, Sarr recovered to make a tremendous block from Forss.

Describing Sarr as a passenger during Chelsea's fight to keep a clean sheet would be far too harsh, but he barely won a high ball when faced with the physicality of Forss and Jansson.

Nevertheless, a couple of timely block and interventions eased some of the pressure on his side during a frantic end to an absorbing contest.


DID HE DO ENOUGH FOR ANOTHER CHANCE?

When every Chelsea defender is fit and available, Sarr will inevitably become a peripheral member of the squad.

However, this can be regarded as a strong Premier League debut. He fitted seamlessly into Tuchel's system and was aggressive in how he was able to dispossess Brentford on countless occasions during the opening hour.

While he will always feel like he is taking one step forward and two steps back during his time at Stamford Bridge, Sarr suggested that he can act as an extremely capable deputy when he is required until January.


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3Liverpool1494143123131
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Premier League Table
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Chelsea1410313362733
2Manchester CityMan City1410222982132
3Liverpool1494143123131
4West Ham UnitedWest Ham147342517824
5Arsenal137241517-223
6Wolverhampton WanderersWolves146351212021
7Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton144731315-219
8Leicester CityLeicester145452225-319
9Tottenham HotspurSpurs126151117-619
10Manchester UnitedMan Utd135352122-118
11Brentford134451717016
12Crystal Palace143741920-116
13Aston Villa145181923-416
14Everton144371724-715
15Leeds UnitedLeeds143651320-715
16Southampton143651320-715
17Watford144191926-713
18Burnley131751420-610
19Norwich CityNorwich14248828-2010
20Newcastle UnitedNewcastle140771630-147
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