Lacklustre Chelsea fumble at home in stalemate with Brighton.
Since Sunday evening, the world of sports has been stunned following the announcement of the European Super League. The reactions to the multi-billion-dollar idea were mostly negative, with sportspeople such as Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher publicly sharing their anger towards the proposal.
However, following protests held at both Elland Road and Stamford Bridge, it was announced shortly before kick-off that Chelsea would no longer be participating in the Super League – with the other 5 English clubs following in the London clubs’ footsteps shortly after.
The drama and confusion was surely set to have an effect on the minds of both Chelsea and Brighton players, who were set to play their delayed 8:15pm fixture in South-West London.
The points at stake looked to be of huge value to both sides, with Chelsea looking to land a top four place, whilst Graham Potters side looked to build on their 33 points and steer clear of relegation.
Heading into the game, Chelsea had kept 14 clean sheets in their 19 competitive games under Thomas Tuchel. The German looked to build on such an incredible statistic by making 5 changes to his Blues starting eleven – which saw Andreas Christensen, Kurt Zouma, Marcos Alonso, Christian Pulisic and Kai Havertz all rotated into the side.
Graham Potter made 3 changes to the team he saw draw 0-0 against Everton last week – which saw Dan Burn, Adam Webster and Alexis Mac Allister replace Adam Lallana, Jakub Moder and Seagulls top scorer Neal Maupay.
The first real chance of the game fell for Chelsea just before the 20th minute, as Mason Mount looked to thread a pass into path of Saturday’s scorer Hakim Ziyech. The ball however rebounded off Adam Webster, which created a small opportunity for Kai Havertz. The German reacted quickly and snatched at the opportunity with a first time effort, but was denied by Robert Sánchez.
The Spaniard was called into action again just moments later again, making an easy stop to Kurt Zouma’s long range effort.
As the game reached the half hour mark both Chelsea and Brighton were still sizing each other up, with the match being played at a slow, controlled tempo. Brighton’s defensive security was perhaps beginning to frustrate Tuchel’s Blues, who received back-to-back yellow cards in two minutes with both Kurt Zouma and Jorginho entering Stuart Attwell’s book.
Just before half-time, Potter’s Brighton was on the front foot and came close to finding the opener.
Seagull’s midfielder Yves Bissouma picked up the ball on the edge of the penalty area and aimed to test Kepa with his effort. The Mali international however saw his attempt blocked by Jorginho, with the deflection dipping onto the roof of the net – narrowly missing out on a crucial Brighton goal.
As the opening 45 minutes came to a close, it was clear that the events of the past few days were playing on the minds of both Chelsea and Brighton’s players. The first half was dull, with a lack of conviction from both teams.
The Blues needed to up their game in order to break down Brighton in the second half, with an important 3 points up for grabs.
On the 49th minute, there were signs of improvement as Hakim Ziyech showed great skill to get the better of Webster and move Chelsea into a dangerous position. However, the ball into the box wasn’t met by a blue shirt as Brighton continued to defend excellently.
By the 67th minute, a lack of creativity forced Thomas Tuchel into bringing on the pace of Callum Hudson-Odoi and Timo Werner. With just over 20 minutes to go, the game looked lifeless with neither side doing enough to break the deadlock.
Potter’s side looked content to sit back and ride the game out. A point for the visitors against Champions League opposition looked to be a fantastic point in Brighton’s fight for Premiership football next season.
However, on the 77th minute it was the Seagulls who should’ve found themselves ahead.
Substitute Neal Maupay picked the pocket of fellow Frenchman Kurt Zouma, which allowed Adam Lallana to move into a 1-on-1 position with Arrizabalaga. The ex-Liverpool midfielder however failed to capitalise, firing his effort wide of the post.
Just 2 minutes later, Chelsea fumbled at the back once more. This time the chance fell for Danny Welbeck, who looked to place the ball beyond Kepa and provide Brighton their first ever goal at Stamford Bridge.
The goal however just wasn’t to be, with the ball rattling the frame of the goal to the relief of the Chelsea backline. The game had suddenly exploded into life, with both teams looking for a winner.
On the 85th minute, Hudson-Odoi squeezed the ball into the penalty area and found striker Olivier Giroud. The Frenchman got a shot away on his favourable left foot, yet saw his effort fall wide of the post.
As the game rolled into stoppage time, it seemed as if there could have been one last chance for Chelsea. Callum Hudson-Odoi was on the move for the Blues before being fouled by Brighton defender Ben White – who consequently earned a second yellow and was dismissed.
However, the freekick from range couldn’t rescue the home side a valuable victory – forcing both clubs to settle for a 0-0 draw at the Bridge.
After the whistle:
For the visitors, Tuesday evenings result marked a well-earned point that contributes extra security in Brighton’s attempts to remain in the Premier League.
The Seagulls are currently sat in 16th place in the league, 7 points clear of Fulham, whilst still possessing a game in hand over the Cottagers.
Next up for Graham Potters side is a trip to Bramall Lane, taking on Championship bound Sheffield United.
For Chelsea, it was another clean sheet for boss Thomas Tuchel, who has failed to concede in 75% of his games as Chelsea’s coach. However, Tuchel has also seen 4 of those games end in a 0-0 draw – which only emphasises the lack of creativity Chelsea are displaying at times this season.
The result against Brighton could come back to haunt the Blues, who face West Ham on Saturday evening in a ‘must win’ game if the Chelsea are to secure Champions League football next season.
Regardless of the result and performance, the biggest victory for both sides today is surely the meltdown of the European Super League – which once again reiterates just how important supporters are to the game of football.
Chelsea 0-0 Brighton & Hove Albion.
BBC Sports player of the match:
Ben White (Brighton & Hove Albion).
Chelsea (3-4-2-1): Arrizabalaga; Christensen, Zouma, Rüdiger; James, Jorginho ©, Mount, Alonso (67’); Pulisic, Ziyech (77’); Havertz (67’).
- Subs: Werner (67’), Hudson-Odoi (67’), Giroud, (77’).
Brighton & Hove Albion (3-1-4-2): Sánchez; White, Dunk ©, Webster; Bissouma; Veltman, Groß, Mac Allister (74’), Burn; Trossard (60’), Welbeck (86’).
- Subs: Lallana (60’), Maupay (74’), Moder (86’).
Chelsea (64%) vs Brighton & Hove Albion (36%).
Chelsea (7) vs Brighton & Hove Albion (11).
Shots on target:
Chelsea (4) vs Brighton & Hove Albion (2).
Chelsea (0) vs Brighton & Hove Albion (3).
Chelsea (8) vs Brighton & Hove Albion (9).
- (credit | BBC Sport).
- (credit | Sky Sports Football).
Written by Ryan Bellenie (@BellenieSport).