Chelsea sunk to a fifth straight loss since the appointment of Frank Lampard as interim manager as Brentford won 2-0 at Stamford Bridge in the Premier League on Wednesday.
The visitors led through Cesar Azpilicueta’s first-half own-goal and substitute Bryan Mbeumo added a second when he ran half the length of the field unchallenged to slam home a finish and extend Chelsea’s winless slide at home to six games in all competitions.
Chelsea has scored just one goal in its last seven games and failed to win any of its last eight.
If, as looks increasingly possible, Mauricio Pochettino is confirmed as the permanent successor to Graham Potter by the time the team plays Arsenal on Tuesday, Chelsea will have had four different managers since its last victory.
Chelsea, six points behind 10th-place Fulham, might struggle now just for a top-half finish in the Premier League.
“This club has been through many, many good moments in recent times and this moment is tough,” said Lampard, who has lost three Premier League games and twice in the Champions League to Real Madrid since being brought back as manager on a temporary basis. “We would love a magic wand and a magic moment but it doesn’t come in football because the Premier League is tough. We have to fight for our moment.
“It is the same story — keep going and keep working. This isn’t an easy moment in the season when a club is used to winning a lot.”
Chelsea began sluggishly and only got worse. Ben Chilwell drew perhaps the only ripple of anticipation from around Stamford Bridge during the first half with a powerful burst down the left, taking the ball on after a clever first-time pass from Conor Gallagher.
Chilwell’s low cross was intercepted, and the only sniff of attacking intent from either side inside the first 20 minutes evaporated without threat.
N’Golo Kante appeared on the right touchline as Chelsea sought a way through, bending over an inviting cross. Up from the back and free inside the box, Thiago Silva got his head to the ball but his attempt lacked power, finding only the gloves of David Raya.
The first genuine test for the Brentford goalkeeper came on the half-hour mark, with Kante controlling the ball inside the box from Wesley Fofana’s cut-back and laying it off for Enzo Fernandez. The World Cup winner, still in search of his first goal since his record-breaking move to Stamford Bridge, shot too close to Raya, who tipped it behind.
Mathias Jensen’s corner got a flick from Mathias Jorgensen, and Azpilicueta knew little about it as the ball deflected off the Chelsea captain and bounced past Kepa Arrizabalaga.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, frozen out under successive managers, emerged from the bench for the second half. His introduction seemed to inject signs of life into Chelsea’s attack.
Kante flashed a shot just wide from an angle just after the restart, before Aubameyang showed good footwork to make space for a strike that was straight at Raya.
For the second goal, Mbeumo was barely inside the Chelsea half when he picked up the ball and advanced upfield and into the box. Mbeumo crashed the ball left-footed inside the near post to bury Chelsea.
“West London is ours” sang the jubilant away support as home fans streamed for the exit.
“The details of the game are pretty clear,” Lampard said. “We are lacking the belief at the top end of the pitch. This is not a sob story but everything is going against us. That game was a clear one because even though we didn’t create big chances, we were always in control.”