Brighton controls rudderless Chelsea at Stamford Bridge
Brighton and Hove Albion thoroughly outclassed Chelsea as the Seagulls rode off deserved 2-1 winners over Frank Lampard’s rudderless Blues at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.
Julio Enciso’s marvelous second-half goal was his first Premier League marker and as good as any he’ll likely score in his career, joining Danny Welbeck on the score sheet on a day Chelsea captain Kepa Arrizabalaga stopped a blowout with eight saves.
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Roberto De Zerbi’s Brighton won the xG fight by a wide margin and out-attempted the hosts by a 24-8 margin in strengthening its top seven foothold.
Brighton’s 49 points are five more than eighth-place Liverpool and 10 more than the 11th-place Blues.
Chelsea was much-changed and absolutely dominated, scoring one goal off a wicked deflection and registering barely more than half an expected goal.
Confused Chelsea controlled as ‘archipelago’ left lonely
First of all, full credit to Brighton and Hove Albion. For any team to be controlled it means another team has to control it, and Brighton was first in absolutely everything except goalkeeper on Saturday.
And that’s not a shot at Robert Sanchez, who was beaten by Conor Gallagher’s deflected strike, but a high-five to Chelsea’s Saturday captain Kepa Arrizabalaga for his eight saves.
Chelsea is a mess right now. Frank Lampard flipped the script on his lineup, apparently more interested in the unlikely comeback that could come on Tuesday against Real Madrid then collecting points in the Premier League.
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Surprise starter Denis Zakaria did not thrive in the moment and Enzo Fernandez looked uncharacteristically frayed next to him. Conor Gallagher was lively but unsharp as the midfield left all five participating forwards on islands and Chelsea’s archipelago only struck when Mykhailo Mudryk drove the center of the pitch to get Gallagher his deflected goal.
That’s it. The Blues had eight shots, none of them particularly dangerous besides the goal (we guess), and kept almost 60 percent of the ball. Chelsea’s home crowd was treated to a lineup that treated the occasion like a friendly, and it got a performance similar to a meaning-free 90 minutes.
Chelsea vs Brighton player ratings: Stars of the Show
Kepa Arrizabalaga: Eight saves, many of them anything but low danger.
Kaoru Mitoma: Has a brace or even a hat trick on another day.
Pervis Estupinan and Moises Caicedo: Ecuadorian left side had Chelsea’s right side on lock down.
Solly March: Another assist for one of the Premier League leaders in goal contributions.
Frank Lampard reaction: ‘Short on the basic parts of football’
“I’m disappointed on every level,” Lampard told the BBC. “The better team won. They could have won by more. They played like a team. They’ve been together a long time.
“Not good enough. All the basic parts of football - to fight, to run - we were short on. Not a question of commitment as such. We have a big game on Tuesday. There’s no point being too down but we have to understand why today went the way it did.”
Chelsea looks to overcome a two-goal deficit to Real Madrid in a Champions League quarterfinal at home on Tuesday before a weekend off due to Manchester United’s FA Cup semifinal.
Brighton plays aforementioned Man United in that semifinal on Sunday, April 23.
Chelsea vs Brighton updates, as they happened
The much-changed Blues have the ball early and win a dangerous free kick that comes to nothing, though the bonus is a very early yellow card for Brighton fullback Joel Veltman.
GOOOOAAAAAL!! Brighton controls the ball for the next 10 minutes or so, but one run from Mykhailo Mudryk opens up the Seagulls and a quick clever cut pass to Conor Gallagher leads to a deflected shot past a slow-to-react Robert Sanchez. CHELSEA, 1-0.
BIG SAVE! Kaoru Mitoma darts through three defenders before cutting a shot across his body that Kepa Arrizabalaga does well to save. Still 1-0, 27'
INJURY: Adam Ferguson takes a kick while charging into the six and the trainers say he’s got to be done for the day. Danny Welbeck takes his spot.
GOOOOALLLL! It’s the substitute Welbeck! Ben Chilwell can’t close down Pascal Gross, and the German doesn’t need an invitation to send a a cross toward Welbeck and Mitoma. It’s “Welbz” who heads it home for 1-1.
Second verse, same as the first. Brighton is controlling the early stages of the second half and Chelsea doesn’t much look like a team prepared to scrap for points.
Quadruple subs for Chelsea over two minutes: Joao Felix, Reece James, Mateo Kovacic, Hakim Ziyech in for Sterling, Fofana, Fernandez, and Pulisic.
GOOOOOAAAAL!! Brighton’s deservedly in front through Julio Enciso’s first Premier League goal. Smashed from dead center to the top corner, Enciso did what it was going to take to beat Kepa today. BRIGHTON, 2-1.
Both teams look ready for this to end, and Brighton will be cursing Kepa that it’s still a one-goal game inside of six minutes stoppage time.
Conor Gallagher goal video: Mudryk dribble, wicked deflection make it 1-0
Danny Welbeck goal video: Gross’ cross met by veteran
Julio Enciso goal video: A marvelous first Premier League goal
How to watch Chelsea vs Brighton live, stream link and start time
Kick off: 10am ET, SaturdayTV Channel: PeacockOnline: Stream via Peacock Premium
Key storylines & in-form players to watch
Chelsea are a mess right now and have failed to score in four-straight games for the first time in almost 30 years. How can so many good players not score, or even like like scoring, during most games? Lampard has to find some kind of attacking combos that will create chances, let alone put them away. In truth, this has been the same problem for Thomas Tuchel and Graham Potter before him. Lampard will want to finish the season strongly to show off his managerial ability but expect to see Chelsea rest plenty of key players for this game as they prepare to face Real Madrid in the Champions League quarterfinal second leg on Tuesday. Lampard insists ‘special things can happen at Stamford Bridge’ but there’s been no sign of that for the Blues this season.
Brighton are so much fun to watch and the trio of Alexis Mac Allister, Moises Caicedo and Kaoru Mitoma are wanted by most, if not all, top six teams in the Premier League. The Seagulls were the better team at Tottenham last week but somehow lost and they will be hoping to add a more ruthless streak to their play over their last 10 games of the season. They are still in with a chance of a top four finish but more likely they are pushing for a top six finish which would be a phenomenal achievement.
Chelsea team news, injuries, lineup options
OUT: Armando Broja (knee), Carney Chukwuemeka (knock)
Brighton team news, injuries, lineup options
OUT: Tariq Lamptey (knee), Jeremy Sarmiento (ankle), Adam Lallana (thigh – out for season), Jakub Moder (knee), Levi Colwill (unable to face parent club)