Anthony Elanga strikes to earn shock win for Nottingham Forest at Chelsea

If only there was an accountancy trick that could mask Chelsea’s awful numbers in front of goal. Unfortunately for Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital there is no way to amortise a home defeat to a ruthless Nottingham Forest. As Mauricio Pochettino heard the home fans greet the final whistle with fierce boos, it was strange to think that £1bn has gone into building a side so lacking in nous, leadership and ways to respond against opponents intent on frustrating them at Stamford Bridge.

The problems confronting Pochettino are nothing new given that Chelsea have earned 11 home wins in all competitions since the start of last season. This is a team bereft of edge in the final third, a team of young players who look unsure of themselves in tricky situations, and nobody who has been paying close attention to recent events here could say they were particularly surprised when Forest pounced on one defensive slip and stole the points thanks to Anthony Elanga’s clinical finish at the start of the second half.

Forest had executed Steve Cooper’s astute plan to perfection, defending with discipline before striking on the break, Elanga’s first goal for the club a timely boost after Brennan Johnson’s move to Tottenham. Chelsea, who had made great play about their summer signings having an average age of 20.5 years, looked callow by comparison.

“This type of game will help us to be more mature,” Pochettino said. “It’s not only about having quality.”

He would go on to talk about playing with more aggression and he must have been worried by the way desperation took hold once Chelsea went behind. There was a glaring miss from Nicolas Jackson, a wild swipe from Raheem Sterling and nothing from an array of expensive substitutes.

Pochettino tried everything – throwing Cole Palmer on for his debut a day after the winger’s £42.5m move from Manchester City, turning to the £88.5m Mykhailo Mudryk more in hope than expectation – but there was no way Forest were going to surrender a first away win since January.

“We talked about how we could hurt Chelsea and then after that it was about keeping a clean sheet,” Cooper said. “There is no shame in that.”

Raheem Sterling is tackled by Joe Worrall during the Premier League match between Chelsea and Nottingham Forest.
Raheem Sterling is tackled by Joe Worrall as Chelsea fail to break down a stubborn Nottingham Forest defence. Photograph: Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP

There was much to admire about Forest’s defending. Ola Aina neutralised Sterling, who did little to show that Gareth Southgate was wrong to leave him out of the England squad, and Chelsea toiled throughout a tepid first half. There was possession but no incision, the threat limited to a couple of hopeful efforts from Enzo Fernández and the hosts did not look comfortable defending set pieces. Taiwo Awoniyi bullied Thiago Silva at times and the Forest striker missed two good chances to opening the scoring.

Forest’s plan was working. Much is made of their frenzied activity in the transfer market – seven signings arrived on deadline day – but it has not stopped Cooper from making sure his players know how to do their jobs.

Chelsea lacked such cohesion. So much changed during the summer and Forest would take advantage of the uncertainty three minutes into the second half. There was a mix-up in midfield, Moisés Caicedo and Conor Gallagher taking it in turns to squander possession, and Orel Mangala was able to make a crucial interception. The ball ran to Awoniyi, he nutmegged Silva with a clever pass and Elanga, on for the injured Danilo, escaped Levi Colwill before sliding a composed shot past Robert Sánchez.

A hush descended over the home sections. Pochettino looked to his bench for inspiration and removed the £115m Caicedo. Palmer came on to play as the No 10, Noni Madueke moved to the right flank and Ian Maatsen entered the fray. But Forest, whose defence was expertly marshalled by Joe Worrall, were giving little away.

  • Download the Guardian app from the iOS App Store on iPhone or the Google Play store on Android by searching for 'The Guardian'.
  • If you already have the Guardian app, make sure you’re on the most recent version.
  • In the Guardian app, tap the Menu button at the bottom right, then go to Settings (the gear icon), then Notifications.
  • Turn on sport notifications.

The worry for Forest, though, was that they had blown a 2-0 lead at Manchester United last Saturday. An equaliser looked certain when Sterling reached the right byline and cut the ball back for Jackson, only for the striker to prod the ball over from three yards. Pochettino would soon hear the boos.


Jacob Steinberg at Stamford Bridge

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Awoniyi and Sterling both double up as Nottingham Forest save point at Chelsea
Two goals from Taiwo Awoniyi earned a potentially invaluable 2-2 draw for Nottingham Forest at Chelsea, with Raheem Sterling scoring both for the hosts

Jacob Steinberg at Stamford Bridge

13, May, 2023 @4:09 PM

Article image
Depleted Crystal Palace keep Nottingham Forest out to earn point
Injury-hit Crystal Palace held on for a 0-0 draw against Nottingham Forest at Selhurst Park in Roy Hodgson’s 400th Premier League match as a manager

Ed Aarons at Selhurst Park

07, Oct, 2023 @6:40 PM

Article image
Willian and Solomon give Fulham the edge against Nottingham Forest
Goals from Willian and the substitute Manor Solomon gave Fulham a 2-0 win against Nottingham Forest, who lost both their central defenders to injury

PA Media

11, Feb, 2023 @5:23 PM

Article image
Haaland steers Manchester City past Nottingham Forest despite Rodri red
Phil Foden and Erling Haaland helped Manchester City earn a 2-0 win against Nottingham Forest, although the midfielder Rodri was sent off

Will Unwin at the Etihad Stadium

23, Sep, 2023 @4:09 PM

Article image
Newcastle’s Bruno Guimarães sinks Nottingham Forest but Nuno cries foul
Bruno Guimarães scored twice as Newcastle won 3-2 at Nottingham Forest, who equalised twice

Will Unwin at the City Ground

10, Feb, 2024 @7:43 PM

Article image
Chris Wood’s late Nottingham Forest leveller stuns wasteful Manchester City
Chris Wood struck in the 84th minute to earn a 1-1 draw for Nottingham Forest against wasteful Manchester City

Ben Fisher at the City Ground

18, Feb, 2023 @5:06 PM

Article image
Nottingham Forest secure safety and hand title to Manchester City
Taiwo Awoniyi’s first-half goal gave Nottingham Forest a 1-0 home win over Arsenal to hand the Premier League title to Manchester City

Jonathan Wilson at the City Ground

20, May, 2023 @6:44 PM

Article image
Taiwo Awoniyi strike stuns Liverpool and lifts Nottingham Forest off bottom
Taiwo Awoniyi’s second-half goal and Dean Henderson’s last-gasp save from Virgil van Dijk helped Forest claim a famous win

Ben Fisher at The City Ground

22, Oct, 2022 @1:43 PM

Article image
Demarai Gray pounces to salvage draw for Everton against Nottingham Forest
Demarai Gray pounced on Jordan Pickford’s long pass to score a late equaliser for Everton in their 1-1 home draw with Nottingham Forest, who took the lead through Brennan Johnson

Andy Hunter at Goodison Park

20, Aug, 2022 @4:21 PM

Article image
Josh Dasilva stuns Nottingham Forest to snatch late victory for Brentford
Josh Dasilva scored an injury time winner for Brentford to give them a 2-1 win in a major blow to Nottingham Forest’s hopes of avoiding relegation from the Premier League

Ben Bloom at the Gtech Community Stadium

29, Apr, 2023 @4:19 PM