Typical pre-season game!
Chelsea travelled to Brighton on Saturday to play the Premier League side in a friendly as the new season kicks off 3 weeks from now. It was a big occasion due to the fact that around 2500 fans were allowed into the stadium for the first time since lockdown. For Chelsea fans it was a chance to see Werner and Ziyech in action along with fit players like Kante and Loftus-Cheek. Lampard picked a fairly strong lineup with Kepa starting in goal, with a defence of Reece James, Christensen, Clarke-Salter, and Alonso in front of him. Kante returned as CDM with Kovacic, and Loftus-Cheek in front of him. Hudson-Odoi started at left wing while Ziyech started at right wing with Timo Werner up front.
Chelsea started the game brilliantly with Reece James shooting just wide of the Brighton goal within 30 seconds of kick-off. The formation very much looked like a 4-2-3-1 at times with Loftus-Cheek playing as a CAM rather than a RCM. The first goal came in the 4th minute as Ziyech played a brilliant cross-field pass with his left foot to Hudson-Odoi who ran behind the Brighton defence. Callum mistimed his header though but it fell into Timo Werner’s path who expertly finished past Ryan to get his first Chelsea goal. The thing to get most excited about this goal was the Ziyech’s ball into the box which only a left footed player on the right can play. After the goal Chelsea relaxed a bit as Brighton defended well. Ben White in the Brighton defence played really well as he kept our offensive players quiet. Another exciting moment was when Ziyech took a free-kick and his whipping cross actually met Timo Werner’s head who headed it wide. Trust me after having Willian take your set pieces for 7 seasons small things like this can get a fan very excited. The first half drew to a close with Chelsea in the lead.
The 2nd half saw three substitutions with Rudiger and Azpilicueta coming in for Christensen, and Clarke-Salter, also Caballero came in for Kepa. Bringing in Rudiger had it’s normal impact as he conceded a penalty in the 49th minute. Caballero though managed to save the penalty from Maupay as the scoreline remained 0-1. Ziyech fell awkwardly when he went into a challenge and had to be taken off with a small knee problem as he was replaced by Gallagher. Ampadu and Baker also came in for Kovacic, and Kante. Giroud then replaced Werner as well while Lawrence and Maatsen came in for Alonso, and Reece James. The 2nd half was very stop start as the substitutions stopped any form of fluidity in the team. Vale and McCormick came on for RLC and CHO around the 72nd minute. Chelsea conceded another penalty in the 90th minute as Ampadu seemed to have brought down a Brighton player. Gross then stepped up and this time Brighton equalised. Giroud had to come off in extra-time as he got an elbow to the head and was replaced by Castillo for the final few minutes.
There’s really no need to do any ratings for a pre-season game instead I’m going to mention some players that impressed me over the 90 minutes.
- Firstly the attack in the first half, Ziyech, Werner, Hudson-Odoi, and Loftus-Cheek moved fluidly all over the pitch for the first 45 minutes. Werner himself was dropping as far as the half way line to receive passes and progress. Hudson-Odoi and Ziyech switched wings and Werner himself also played on the wings as well. It seemed a case of the players having a licence to roam freely. The front three did well for a first outing and will only get bette with more game time.
- Kante looked fitter than he did for most of last season and that can only bode well for the team. Loftus-Cheek did well as he got into brilliant spaces etc but I felt that he is still hesitant to fully unleash himself. It’s as if he feels that switching into a higher gear might get him injured again. Kovacic was his controlling self but I felt he wasn’t really suited for this game.
- Reece James probably impressed me the most in defence as he worked well with Ziyech on the right hand side while also defending brilliantly. Clarke-Salter did well for the 45 minutes and looked composed on the ball.
- In terms of the 2nd half subs Gallagher was the one that caught my eye the most. From the minute he came on the pitch he was pressing down the goalkeeper, and forcing Brighton players into mistakes. Connor also played a very good through ball into Giroud’s path who’s shot was saved by the Brighton goalkeeper. Other than that Ampadu looked decent and tough of on the ball while 16 year old Harvey Vale had a brilliant chance to get a winner but delayed his shot.
With so many players and signings to come into the team there is no need to draw any negatives from the performance. Many of the younger players as well as the bench players in this game will probably be heading out on loan as well. As mentioned though there was plenty to be excited about especially from our forward players. Next up is the international break as players leave to play some Nations League football but pre-season will continue with players who stay back, although there probably won’t be an friendlies until a week before the season begins. Time to get Havertz, and a goalkeeper over the line before then. COME ON YOU BLUES!!!