Brighton add to Chelsea’s blues as Tuchel's men miss chance to go second

The failure to overcome an impressive Brighton meant Tuchel’s side missed out on the chance to move above Liverpool into second place and are now without a win in four Premier League games
Brighton add to Chelsea’s blues as Tuchel's men miss chance to go second

Brighton's Adam Webster, top, celebrates after scoring his side's goal. Picture: AP Photo/Matt Dunham

Brighton 1 Chelsea 1

Thomas Tuchel’s attempt to reverse Chelsea’s current alarming dip in form goes on. The failure to overcome an impressive Brighton meant Tuchel’s side missed out on the chance to move above Liverpool into second place and are now without a win in four Premier League games.

The Chelsea head coach has already dismissed any suggestion his side — who were top of the table at the start of December — might close the gap on Manchester City and force their way back into the title race and there was little in their display at the Amex Stadium to suggest he might be proved wrong. Chelsea established a first half lead against the run of play through Hakim Ziyech, but Brighton deservedly levelled with an Adam Webster header on the hour and were entitled to feel aggrieved they failed to claim all three points.

Tuchel admits his side’s testing recent schedule, which included the two-legged League Cup semi-final with Tottenham, has placed significant demands on his players. By contrast, this was Brighton’s first midweek game since the turn of the year and while Tuchel had insisted his squad was capable of coping with the run of fixtures, it was the home side that displayed the greater urgency as they dominated the opening quarter of the game.

Albion had impressed in Friday’s meeting with Crystal Palace although it had taken a late own-goal to salvage a point for Graham Potter’s side. The manager reacted to that by dropping forwards Neal Maupay and Leandro Trossard but his reshaped side continued to demonstrate familiar failings in front of goal as they failed to translate early dominance into goals.

Jakub Moder, the Poland international, fired narrowly wide in the third minute when he was sent clear by a Danny Welbeck pass after an incisive move that showed why Brighton have won so many admirers this season. Welbeck then just failed to reach Pascal Gross’s through ball ahead of Kepa Arrizabalaga and failed to make more of a better opportunity when he moved on to Steven Alzate’s chipped pass. Tuchel had made attempt to shield his forwards from criticism after Saturday defeat at Manchester City and his frontline — this time made up of Romelu Lukaku and Callum Hudson-Odoi — once again offered little during the opening stages of the game with Chelsea first effort on goal coming from right-back Cesar Azpilicueta.

Not that the forward pair were alone in starting slowly as Brighton controlled possession for long periods and appeared quicker to the ball in all areas with Tariq Lamptey, the former Chelsea wing-back, repeatedly causing problems on the right.

It came as a surprise, then, when Chelsea took a 28th minute lead. N’Golo Kante pressed forward and exchanged passes with Ziyech who collected the ball for a second time and drilled a low shot through the legs of two Brighton defenders from 20 yards out, beating keeper Robert Sanchez at the near post.

The goal brought a measure of assurance to Chelsea’s play that had been missing beforehand and while Brighton continued to have the upper hand, the visitors posed more of an attacking threat ahead of the break. Lukaku would have had a good opportunity to add a second if Ziyech’s pass had not sent him wide while Hudson-Odoi should have done much better than fire over the bar after being set up by the Belgium forward.

Brighton, though, have rarely lacked for belief this season and, they worked their way back into the game on the hour after another impressive move.

This time it was centre-back Dan Burn who started the attack, advancing deep into the Chelsea half before the impressive Marc Cucurella reached the byline before pulling the ball back for Alexis Mac Allister whose deflected shot was pushed away for a corner by Kepa. Mac Allister delivered the set-piece and Webster’s run wasn’t tracked, leaving the centre-back with the chance to direct a free header past the Chelsea keeper.

Chelsea applied more pressure in the final stages but Brighton were determined to collect a well-earned point.

BRIGHTON (3-5-2): Sanchez 6; Veltman 6, Webster 8, Burn 7; Lamptey 9 (March 77, 6), Gross 6 (Maupay 61, 5), Alzate 7, Mac Allister 6, Cucurella 8; Moder 7, Welbeck 5 (Trossard 61, 6).

CHELSEA (4-4–2): Arrizabalaga 6; Azpilicueta 7, Thiago Silva 6, Rudiger 6, Alonso 6; Ziyech 6 (Werner 80, 6), Kante 7, Jorginho 6 (Kovacic 80, 6), Mount 7; Lukaku 6 (Havertz 80, 6), Hudson-Odoi 5.

Referee: Kevin Friend 6

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