Sportupdatehub takes a look at the moments you might have missed from Chelsea’s loss to Brighton.
Omari Hutchinson fits in
Omari Hutchinson was in Chelsea’s matchday squad for the first time on his 19th birthday. It may not have been the result he wished to say on his first trip away with the first team but it was a good opportunity for the former Arsenal youngster to become accustomed with his senior teammates having joined in first-team training on the Friday. Hutchinson has lit up the pitch in Premier League 2 on his way to four goals and three assists in his last six games in the competition, so his involvement felt a worthy reward.
Warming up ahead of the match at the Amex Stadium, Hutchinson appeared to fit right in with Chelsea’s substitutes as he kept the ball in the air along with Hakim Ziyech, Cesar Azpilicueta, Jorginho, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Denis Zakaria. The latter duo in particular appeared to have fun targetting each other with the Swiss international eventually being the figure unable to keep the ball in the air. Hutchinson was as keen to flick the ear of the midfield as any of his teammates, as the Juventus loanee took his punishment.
Hutchinson looked comfortable laughing and joking on the bench with club, captain Azpilicueta too however, and while he is ineligible to be in the squad against Dinamo Zagreb, he will hope to have another opportunity soon.
Edouard Mendy’s hope
At the first sign that Kepa Arrizabalaga had an issue, Edouard Mendy wanted to ensure he was ready. As the Spaniard attempted to stretch out an issue, the Senegal international was quick to alert those around him, quick to stand up and soon in Chelsea’s technical area, almost itching to get on the pitch and also to see how his teammate was.
Some confusion occurred on the sideline about whether Kepa actually wanted to be substituted but Kepa started his way down the sideline to warm up, before swiftly turning to the call of needing a bib. Mendy went through a thorough warm up alone but was not called upon during the first half. He did make sure everyone was aware he was ready, and ensured staff knew that Kepa was not 100% however. The former Rennes glovesman knows how precious an opportunity in goal is when you’re out of favour and he was prepared to jump at the chance.
A more varied and comprehensive warm up took place at half-time and Mendy had his opportunity as Kepa was replaced. Not the perfect outing but he produced some good saves and appears likely to start in the Champions League on Wednesday.
Graham Potter revealed that Kepa had an issue with the bottom of his foot, and that was the reason for his half time substitution.
The Blues boss said: “He felt the bottom of his foot, so I don’t know, it’s too early yet. It was too bad for him to carry on. So that is disappointing for him because he is in a really good moment.”
The Spanish goalkeeper did not appear to have too much in the way of obvious strapping or precautionary measures as he departed the Chelsea changing rooms for the team bus, but did have a clear limp as he made his way past journalists. If the fixture against Dinamo Zagreb was not already primed for rotation, it appears set for at least one change.
Kepa was not the only person to limp out of the changing room as Ben Chilwell also appeared to be carrying a knock. The Blues defender also never appeared to have too much in the way of treatment, so a superficial blow seems most likely from his short time on the pitch which will hopefully be easily recovered from. It does signal the fragile nature of squads during such a busy period. As Potter reflected after the game, it can be a challenge knowing how best to set up even for minor issues, as well as more significant ones.
He said: “It’s not about change. You need to find a way to win and perform. We’ve had a lot of games in October and an incredible schedule. So for different reasons, we’ve lost key players in terms of Reece [James], [Kalidou] Koulibaly, [Wesley] Fofana and [N’Golo] Kante. So there is a constant challenge in how to set up.”