Can’t hold on once again…
Chelsea took on Brighton and Hove Albion at Stamford Bridge for MW 20 of the Premier League season and what was the final game of the year. Brighton went with a 5-4-1 lineup and setup to defend first and ask questions later. Chelsea also went with a strong and exciting lineup on paper. Mendy started in goal with a back three of Azpilicueta, Christensen, and Rudiger. James moved to left wing back while Pulisic started at right wing back. Jorginho and Kovacic made up the midfield with Hudson-Odoi, Mount and Lukaku up front. Quiet attacking from Tuchel and very much a situation of handling Lamptey and Cucurella as well.
The first half was even with both teams having chances in each others box. The periods of possession seemed to oscillate between the two teams. Chelsea opened the scoring in the 28th minute after Lukaku headed in a corner by Mount. Lukaku had started the game really well and Maupay who was marking had no chance. Brighton grew into the game after the goal though and Reece James seemed to pull a hamstring and was taken off and replaced by Alonso. Chelsea did well to keep the lead going into half time. Christensen had been nursing a hip issue in the 1st half and was replaced by Chalobah at half time. It was all Brighton up till about the 70th minute though as we faced on an onslaught of shots at goal. Several blocks, and saves meant that we kept the lead. Hudson-Odoi had a great chance to make it 2-0 but he failed to do anything with the ball in the end. Kante then came on for Hudson-Odoi and helped Chelsea get a foothold in the game. We had Pulisic go down in the box but a penalty wasn’t given and then Mount nicked the ball off Veltman and shot at goal but Mike Dean had blown the whistle for a foul before the ball entered the net. The equaliser once again came in the 90th minute as Welbeck rose highest to head in a Cucurella cross. The players looked shattered and Chelsea had only a point to end the year.
Chelsea Team Review
Mendy was stellar in goal and made several saves but in the end we conceded in the final minutes. No clean sheet yet again and it costs us points.
Azpilicueta, Christensen, Rudiger, and Chalobah had to fight hard in defence in this game. There were several last ditch blocks and interceptions and we held on for the lead. We just couldn’t hold on for a bit longer. Reece James had to come off due to injury and Lamptey was causing him problems while Cucurella also caused problems on the opposite flank. Christensen and Reece James out injured now and that is both our top choice wing backs not available. Not good at all.
Jorginho, and Kovacic were good in the final 20 minutes but faced a torrid 1st half when Brighton were slicing through them freely. Mount made some poor decisions in the 1st but improved in the 2nd, he scored a goal that was wrongfully ruled out and worked tirelessly to press Brighton. Kante came on in the final 20 minutes and did what Kante does best.
Hudson-Odoi had his worst game for Chelsea this season. Now before I go overboard he has come back from Covid and he did look tired but the decision making was so poor. The chance he missed was so comical, any other player would have at least got a shot on goal, instead he tried to pass and it didn’t make it to Mount. I will write a separate article on Hudson-Odoi but my only wish is please stop overhyping the poor kid. He has potential but he is no where near one of the best players at the club. Pulisic played right wing back in this game, another game where he was playing out of a position but put in a big shift. Cucurella was no easy person to deal with but it was a good battle between the two. Pulisic was brought down in the box but no penalty was given. Lukaku was very good in the 1st half and in 2nd and the goal was very well taken. One of the silver linings in this game.
Tuchel will be frustrated and post game he made it clear that Chelsea in our current state are not in a title race. Severa Covid cases, several injuries no break and players running themselves ragged. It is not a good point at the moment. Tuchel needs to be backed with a couple of players in January.
The point means that Chelsea go above Liverpool into 2nd but City won their game so they are now 8 points ahead of us. Liverpool have a game in hand as well. Next up is a visit by none other than Liverpool on the 2nd as we look to bounce back in the New Year. Happy New Year and may 2022 bring new fortune for Chelsea. COME ON!!!