Mykhailo Mudryk is slowly rebuilding his confidence, but it is resolving flaws in his game that will be key to his long-term success. Under both personal and collective pressure, the 23-year-old winger was back among the goals in a crucial 3-2 FA Cup win over Leeds in midweek. The Ukrainian produced an excellent volleyed strike for his under-fire manager Mauricio Pochettino to buy him more time and reach a Cup quarter-final against Leicester this month. Mudryk stepped up when needed, but it has been a tough February. As one of Chelsea’s expensive new signings — he joined 13 months ago in an £88million deal from Shakhtar Donetsk — he was part of the group labelled “billion-pound bottlejobs” by Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville after last Sunday’s Carabao Cup Final defeat. Mudryk was, arguably, one of those most at fault for the result, having just 10 touches of the ball and failing to make an impact in extra-time, as Liverpool’s academy players outplayed Chelsea to regain control of the match and win 1-0. Before the defeat at Wembley, Mudryk was an unused substitute in three excellent Chelsea away performances. Amid that backdrop, a start against Leeds was not a given, but having been selected to play in the No10 role, he took his chance. His rapid runs, clever passing and impressive shooting were part of an excellent first-half performance. He moved onto the left wing in the second half to act as an outlet on the counter against a resurgent Leeds. There was a moment early in the second half when Mudryk tried to claim an overhit Robert Sanchez pass but nearly fell into the advertising hoardings, only for Pochettino to block his fall. Pochettino has genuine affection toward Mudryk, making him his pet project. The Argentine has brought him out of his shell, got him smiling more and helped him build relationships in the dressing room. But he has also delivered criticism when needed. “He has an amazing talent but needs to understand that he needs to play football, and football is a collective sport; you need to put your talent in service of the team,” Pochettino said. “At this level, you need to work with and without the ball.” Mudryk’s problems are inexperience. He only played 73 senior matches before joining Chelsea from under the nose of Arsenal, with Mikel Arteta personally pushing for his transfer. Saturday’s opponents Brentford also had a club-record £26m bid rejected six months earlier, while Brighton, who also boast an impressive scouting system, also looked at him. Read More Victor Osimhen ‘loves’ Chelsea and wants to join this summer, says ‘agent’ Mikel John Obi Brentford vs Chelsea: Prediction, kick-off time, TV, live stream, team news, h2h results, odds Chelsea march on in FA Cup but £220m Moises Caicedo and Enzo Fernandez outshone by Leeds starlet Archie Gray What has gone wrong at Brentford? From European flirtation to relegation fears But his billing as the ‘Ukrainian Neymar’ at home impacted him. At Shakhtar, he barely had to defend; in the Premier League, every single player must slot into the system and help build attacks, press and defend well tactically and technically. The inability to do so is the primary factor behind Mudryk completing just two full 90 minutes in 44 matches and he must learn the ugly and tactical sides of the game if he wants to get the minutes he needs. For Brentford, losing Ben Mee to a potential season-ending injury only ramps up the need for Nathan Collins to come good. Collins has struggled to settle since his £23m move from Wolves and only Sheffield United goalkeeper Wes Foderingham has made more than his four individual errors directly leading to League goals this term. But the 22-year-old is expected to line up tomorrow in a makeshift back-three alongside Kristoffer Ajer and Mathias Jorgensen needing to start showing why Thomas Frank was so keen to sign him.

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