Chelsea’s start under Mauricio Pochettino has been a mixed bag, as they suffered a surprising 1-0 defeat at home to Nottingham Forest. The Blues had previously secured a sub-par 2-1 win over AFC Wimbledon in the Carabao Cup. Forest’s summer signing, Anthony Elanga, proved to be the difference with an early goal in the second half. Despite Chelsea’s efforts, including close chances from Raheem Sterling and Conor Gallagher, Forest emerged victorious.
The performance highlighted that while Chelsea possesses a talented squad, it may take time for everything to click. The build-up play was promising, but the lack of a clinical finish in the final third held them back. On the other hand, Forest’s impressive performances against Arsenal and Manchester United, which ended in draws, have finally paid off. They now have two wins from four matches, an impressive record considering their tough start to the season.
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On Sunday evening, Nottingham Forest put in a sensational performance at Stamford Bridge to take all three points against Frank Lampard’s Chelsea, captaining the hearts of their supporters. The scoreline of 1-0 belied the true ambition and effort put in by Chris Hughton’s side, with a sublime individual display from super-sub Anthony Elanga proving to be the difference.
There was one mild concern for Forest prior to the kickoff – the exclusion from the matchday squad of Nicolas Jackson. Jackson had made some highly impressive contributions to the Forest cause thus far this season, finding the net on three occasions and providing five assists. The 19-year-old had had strong claims for a place in the contemplation for selection, however Hughton opted to omit him from the squad.
On the playing side of things, Forest held their own in the early exchanges, executing their ordered defensive shape whilst looking to break forward with purpose. For the first 30 minutes, Forest’s task seemed to become increasingly harder as Chelsea’s forwards began to finely tune their combination play however no such breakthrough occurred before the whistle sounded for half-time.
On the hour-mark, Hughton injected fresh impetus by bringing on Elanga, an American Under-23 international, with the instruction of linking the play between midfield and attack. Elanga nearly provided an assist in the same move as he reunited the ball with Chris Cohen, however the latter’s effort failed to hit the target.
It was only four minutes later that Elanga truly shone: Having received a pass from the deep, he continued his run and galloped through the Chelsea backline before shaping for a shot which found the bottom corner.
The remaining period saw Forest defend their advantage with wild abandon, as offensive waves of Chelsea sought to produce an equalizer. The final whistle rang out and Forest had written their way into the annals of surprise successes.
The result stopped Chelsea’s march to the Premier League summit, however all the plaudits truly belonged to Hughton and Forest’s brave display. Maybe the most notable absentee on matchday was the aforementioned Jackson – the young man who will sadly have to wait for his opportunity to again grace the field.