No one could’ve imagined the impact Edouard Mendy has had, but the question is, how much of an impact has he really had?
After the problems Chelsea had with their goalkeepers in the 2019/20 season, they were desperate to find a new goalkeeper in the summer window. It was rumoured that Frank Lampard wanted Jan Oblak from Atletico Madrid, but the price put the board off of him and they went with a recommendation from Petr Cech.
Who is Edouard Mendy?
The 29-year old from Senegal moved to Chelsea from Stade Rennais for £22m in 2020, following the same path Cech did all those years ago. However, back in 2014 a move to a club like Chelsea seemed very unlikely. He had just been released by AS Cherbourg and was on the brink of quitting football.
His rise back to the top came on the back of a successive couple of seasons with Reims where they got promoted from Ligue 2 up to Ligue 1. Then a fantastic 2019/20 with Stade Rennais where he had a save percentage of 78.4 earnt him that move to Chelsea.
|Goals against per 90||0.82|
|Shots on target against||78|
|Progressive distance (Yards)||10,309|
|Short passing (5-15 yards)||99%|
|Medium passing (15-30 yards)||99.3%|
|Long passing (Longer than 30 yards)||59.0%|
|Successful % for over 40 yards||47.5%|
Focusing on distribution for Edouard Mendy to begin with. Nowadays, goalkeepers have to be good with their feet as well as with their hands and Mendy fulfils that. Over half of his longer balls find its desired target. This allows the rest of the team to move up the pitch quicker and launch another attack which in turn keeps up the pressure on the opposition. This can then become unrelenting and could force an error from the opposition. Also, his over forty yards successful passing percentage was the best in the league this season for those who played a minimum of fifteen 90s.
Looking at the other aspect to his game now and the numbers don’t tell the full story. An average of 1.78 saves per game is pretty good when you consider how solid Chelsea’s defence has been in the second half which has left Mendy untroubled for large parts. This is also the same for the 0.82 goals against per 90. Furthermore, a save percentage of 70.5% isn’t the most impressive and ranks at twelfth in the Premier League.
Going beyond the stats here and looking at some of his individual performances are crucial in determining the impact Edouard Mendy has had. A couple of standout performances including the two goalless draws away to Manchester United and Leeds where Mendy made a combined seven saves including a fantastic one from Tyler Roberts.
However, it is also important to note that Mendy has had his moments in a Chelsea shirt. Most notably the away game against Everton when he charged off his line and gave away a penalty which Dominic Calvert-Lewin converted. Also, the home game against Leeds where a miscommunication between himself and Kurt Zouma led to Patrick Bamford scoring.
Overall, Chelsea fans and Mendy himself can be very pleased with his first season in England’s top flight and without him top four wouldn’t have happened.
Edouard Mendy: A Champions League winner
|Goals against per 90||0.25|
|Shots on target against||33|
|Progressive distance (Yards)||4,547|
|Short passing (5-15 yards)||100%|
|Medium passing (15-30 yards)||97.9%|
|Long passing (Longer than 30 yards)||56.7%|
|Successful % for over 40 yards||50.4%|
In the biggest tournament of them all this season, is where Edouard Mendy shone the most. He may not have arrived at Chelsea as a big name goalkeeper but whenever/if he leaves, he will be leaving as one.
His save percentage of 90.9 is the highest save percentage of any goalkeeper in a single Champions League season. Also, his nine clean sheets equalled the tournament record. Moreover, the three goals he conceded in 1080 minutes is a new record for most minutes per goal conceded. Finally, two out of the three goals he conceded were nominated for goal of the tournament, including Taremi’s overhead kick in the dying moments of the quarter final.
This season’s Champions League run is one that will live in the memory of Chelsea fans forever and one of the moments that will stick with them is Mendy’s performance in the second leg of the semi final against Real Madrid and it epitomised the impact he has had.
The game was level on the night, with Chelsea holding a slight advantage on away goals after the first leg, when Mendy stepped up with two of the most important saves he will ever make. First of all, Karim Benzema received the ball on the edge of the box and turned and fired his shot in one motion which Mendy at full stretch to his left palmed it round the post. Secondly, just after Chelsea had gone 1-0 up, Mendy launched himself in the air to save Benzema’s free header from ten yards out.
Once again, Mendy’s distribution in the Champions League was exceptional but one moment stood out from it all. His ball perfectly weighted out to Chilwell on the left flank in the Champions League final was the start of the move that led to the moment that clinched the Champions League for Chelsea.
Chelsea bought a goalkeeper in the summer that they hoped to turn up for them when it mattered the most and Mendy almost certainly did that in the Champions League last season.
Comparison with Kepa
|Mendy 2020/21||Kepa 2019/20|
|Goals against per 90||0.67||1.40|
|Shots on target against||114||133|
|Progressive distance (Yards)||14,856||14,814|
|Short passing (5-15 yards)||99.2%||98.4%|
|Medium passing (15-30 yards)||98.9%||98.8%|
|Long passing (Longer than 30 yards)||58.3%||57.4%|
|Successful % for over 40 yards||48.5%||44.3%|
(Passing stats exclude domestic cup games and the Super Cup)
The first thing that stands out is the alarming difference in their save percentages. Whilst Mendy saves just over every three shots in four, Kepa only saved just over half of those he faced. Also, even in Kepa’s first season, when he was a lot better, his save percentage was still only 68.8%. Also, despite Chelsea’s defence being much stronger in 2020/21 than 2019/20, Kepa conceding double the goals that Mendy did in three less games than him highlights the issues in his goalkeeping. Furthermore, Mendy making seven more saves from nineteen less shots on targets backs this up again. Also, their similar stats in the distribution aspect comes as no surprise as Kepa never had too much of an issue with his feet.
Away from that table, Mendy only made one error leading to a goal all season, whilst Kepa made three at the start of the 2020/21 season further showing his weaknesses.
It goes without saying that Mendy has been a definite success at Chelsea and his impact on the players and the club has been huge in determining how the 2020/21 season went. Also, it is important to note how Chelsea’s defence look more assured with a confident and assertive goalkeeper behind them. For example, with Kepa there would be breakdowns in communication and one example of this was in the 3-3 draw with Southampton at the start of the season. Whilst this happened with Mendy against Everton, it was still early in his time as a Chelsea player whilst with Kepa it was still happening a couple of years after arriving.
Mendy has enjoyed a very good first season in West London and has become a key cog in the Champions of Europe. With the new season a couple of months away, the impact he has had on the side will only keep growing with each day that passes.
Stats courtesy of fbref.com
Written by Harrison (@indepthFandC)
Edited by Tom Coley (@tomcoley49)
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