A win on Tuesday was vital for Chelsea as they looked to keep pace in the Premier League title race, and they looked to have sealed a victory before a late goal saw them drop two points in a 1-1 draw with Brighton & Hove Albion at Stamford Bridge.
The Blues started the game on the front foot and looked to test Robert Sanchez‘s goal early on, with Cesar Azpilicueta striking the post and Antonio Rudiger‘s header requiring attention from a set piece. And it was from a set play where Thomas Tuchel’s side would eventually take the lead; Romelu Lukaku heading in after beating Neal Maupay with ease after a quick VAR deliberation adjudged that he didn’t commit a foul during the goal.
Brighton came into the game more after the opener and stemmed the flow of Chelsea attacks. Graham Potter instructed his side to press high up the pitch as they began to work a number of shooting opportunities, and Maupay was unlucky not to profit when sending the ball narrowly wide of the goal.
But the game changed again once N’Golo Kante was introduced in the 67th minute. Chelsea began to work more counter-attacking opportunities and swung the pendulum back in their favour to garner control of the midfield. It looked to be a matter of playing the game out for Chelsea with the most dangerous spells from the visitors over, but that wasn’t without a late aftershock that saw Danny Welbeck equalise to snatch a draw for the away side in stoppage time.
Chelsea were strong from set pieces which made up for spells where they looked tired, while another goal for Lukaku will be positive going forward for his form.
Reece James has been one of Chelsea’s most productive players this season and his injury sustained against Brighton could be a big blow as fans wait to see how long he will be sidelined for.
Manager Rating (out of 10)
7 — A difficult game for Tuchel to manage with two players picking up injuries in the first half. The introduction of Kante was well-timed and helped Chelsea regain control in midfield areas.
Players Rating (1-10; 10 = best, players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
DF Antonio Rudiger, 8 — Rudiger stopped one of Brighton’s most dangerous attacks of the game, reading the passage of play quickly after Mateo Kovacic lost possession. A crucial block stopped Maupay’s effort that was destined for an empty net.
DF Cesar Azpilicueta, 8 — The defender came close to putting Chelsea into the lead but was denied by the post. Azpilicueta was a standout performer defensively, often the man putting an end to Brighton attacks.
MF Callum Hudson-Odoi, 6 — Hudson-Odoi showed confidence on the ball as he looked to attack Brighton defenders and unleash shots and crosses into the box. His end product should have been better when trying to cut the ball back which would have left an empty net.
MF Mateo Kovacic, 6 — The 27-year-old conceded possession in a dangerous area at one point but it was an anomaly in an otherwise fair performance. Kovacic passed with care and worked tirelessly on defence, often helping out against the dynamic runs of Tariq Lamptey down Chelsea’s left side.
MF Reece James, 6 — James sustained an unfortunate injury after taking a heavy challenge when dribbling in between two players, which ended his game prematurely in the 26th minute.
FW Christian Pulisic, 6 — The 23-year-old was bright in possession and was unlucky not to win a penalty with what appeared to be contact in the box. He wasn’t involved enough though with Chelsea on the backfoot for large parts of the game.
FW Mason Mount, 6 — Impressive delivery from set-pieces caused trouble for Brighton who were punished when Mount found Lukaku for the opener. He sometimes could have took better care of the ball, but the attacker was always taking risks and looking to play progressively.
FW Romelu Lukaku, 7 — Shrugged off the challenge of Maupay and headed home from the corner to send Chelsea into the lead.
DF Trevoh Chalobah, 6 — Kept things simple and dealt with the danger in no-nonsense fashion. Quick to track runs from balls in behind.
DF Marcos Alonso, 6 — Alonso stretched the play up the left-flank when it was possible but spent most of the game defending. Endured a tough battle against Lamptey.
MF N’Golo Kante, 6 — Chelsea needed the France international’s presence in the midfield with the homeside struggling to stop Brighton transitioning the ball quickly into the final third.