Chelsea were comfortably defeat 4-1 by Graham Potter’s former team.
It was not a good afternoon for Chelsea as Graham Potter’s unbeaten run as head coach came to a very abrupt end. The Blues boss returned to the Amex for the first time since departing in September and received a hostile welcome that punctuated Brighton’s 4-1 win.
The Seagulls were quick to make their presence felt in the game and were 2-0 up within 15 minutes. Roberto de Zerbi’s side went up first through Leandro Trossard and soon added a second as Ruben Loftus-Cheek put the ball in his own net from a corner.
Trevoh Chalobah had soon done the same as he looked to cut out a ball across the box, and Kai Havertz’s goal only offered a brief respite before Pascal Groß ensured the home side had no worries in the 92nd minute.
A frustrating afternoon, but nevertheless, Sportupdatehub takes a look at what we learned from Chelsea on Saturday.
Giving youth a chance
It may not mean much in the context of the 90 minutes at the Amex Stadium, but Omari Hutchinson’s presence in the Chelsea squad felt significant on Saturday afternoon. The 19-year-old has enjoyed an exciting season at Premier League 2 level, having joined from Arsenal in the summer.
Hutchinson has recorded four goals and three assists in his last six matches for the development squad and was involved in first-team training on Friday before heading to Sussex to take his place in the matchday squad. Saturday was not the afternoon to make his debut, and ultimately he may end up playing in Premier League 2 against Brighton on Sunday, but it will signal to the rest of the development side that the opportunity is there should you play well enough.
Still working things out
Much has been said about Raheem Sterling and Christian Pulisic lining up as wing-backs and whether it is something Potter should consider going forwards, but both were on the pitch and not really playing in that role on the south coast.
Both lined up in the position but ultimately found themselves playing as wingers, often the players positioned furthest forward. That cost Chelsea in the opening half as Chalobah, Thiago Silva and Marc Cucurella were put under untold pressure from the home side and heavily pressed when they were in position.
Potter then opted to move to four defenders, with Ruben Loftus-Cheek playing right back in the second half and Pulisic and Sterling becoming more stereotypical wingers in a 433. Cesar Azpilicueta remained on the bench, while Ben Chilwell was later introduced but with injuries to Reece James, Wesley Fofana and Kalidou Koulibaly, it appears Potter has not found an answer in which he is entirely happy with Chelsea’s balance. He conceded that his choice for Sterling and Pulisic may not have been correct on this occasion.
He said: “The responsibility for those two wasn’t to defend against their wing-backs, but I understand that whenever you do something, and it doesn’t work, you look a bit of a fool. That is how it is. I have to accept that, deal with that, do better, and I’ll learn. That’s the process.”
Slow starts now a pattern
Chelsea’s deficiencies were obvious in the opening half of football, but the Seagulls, in many respects, succeeded where others failed. Potter’s side have struggled to get going in games against Manchester United, Brentford and Aston Villa in recent weeks and have, on occasion, needed a tactical change to resolve the issue.
That change did not come until after half-time on Saturday, perhaps too late. Potter will need to find a way to ensure his team are firing from the start or they will be punished once again against the likes of Arsenal and Newcastle United.
Kai Havertz can find the net
The German positive perhaps brought a rare positive for the Blues. It was not a brilliant performance from the Champions League-winner but having scored a screamer against Red Bull Salzburg. He showed a very different type of goal.
Loftus-Cheek first pulled the ball back for Conor Gallagher, who delivered a very classy ball into the area. In the Champions League on Wednesday, Havertz was fuming after he directed a header from the same player into the ground, having lacked conviction in the way he attacked the ball. Against Brighton, it appeared he had learned his lesson, pointed where he wanted the ball, and attacked it to guide the pall passed Robert Sanchez.