Chelsea weren’t entirely convincing but showed a clinical edge to win 3-1 at Brighton in the Premier League on Monday night.
The home side made most of the early running, with some neat build-up play seeing a few long-range chances fall their way, but Chelsea took the lead after a Steven Alzate pass was intercepted and Timo Werner was played in – before being brought down by Mathew Ryan.
Jorginho netted the resulting penalty, but Brighton continued to press forward for the rest of the half and went close through Alzate and Neal Maupay.
After the break the same pattern ensued and the hosts deservedly equalised through Leandro Trossard, only for Reece James to smash in a second for Chelsea two minutes later before Kurt Zouma’s deflected effort finished the job.
Here are five things we learned from the game at the Amex Stadium.
Werner won the penalty and had a good all-round impact in the first half, showing his direct running and pace on a number of counter-attacks.
Not too many chances fell his way, but one low, fired-in shot almost caught out Ryan, but even so there were lots of positives to take.
On the other hand, Kai Havertz struggled to get involved and summed up his first outing for the Blues with a clipped pass 30 yards out of play to nobody. Work rate was there though, and one or two attempts to come infield and swap roles.
For Brighton, Adam Lallana’s first outing ended in the all-too-familiar sight of an early exit to an apparent injury, but defender Ben White can be pleased with a solid outing after returning from loan, despite the scoreline.
Chelsea have been linked with half a dozen top goalkeepers this summer, after Kepa Arrizabalaga was dropped for poor form more than once last season.
Rennes stopper Edouard Mendy is reportedly close to joining, but Kepa got another chance here to either stake his claim or put himself in the shop window – but didn’t really do either.
The goal was certainly preventable on his part. A long-range shot squirmed under his outstretched arm and in, mirroring a weakness of last season.
Elsewhere there was a completely missed attempt to punch a corner away, a few wayward clipped passes and a generally despondent demeanour about his person when the camera panned his way.
Brighton approach wins plaudits, not points
Nothing on the day for Graham Potter’s team, other than the ever-intangible positives of good play, a positive approach and lots of moments where the game could have gone their way.
Their passing between the lines was excellent, the rotation of positions in the attacking players very impressive.
The star of the show was probably Tariq Lamptey, a rapid and roving menace at right wing-back, constantly beating Marcos Alonso and providing ammunition for the front players, while Yves Bissouma and Trossard were also excellent.
Lewis Dunk’s missed header from close range and one or two other moments could easily have tipped the balance of the fixture their way, but there was plenty to work with all the same.
The aforementioned duo of Havertz and Werner made their debuts, but Thiago Silva, Ben Chilwell and possibly others are yet to play.
As such, stand-ins had their chance; at centre-back the pairing of Zouma and Andreas Christensen were solid, uncompromising, consistent; the same couldn’t be said for Alonso though.
He was lacking the agility and awareness of how to stop Lamptey, so it probably won’t be too much of a difficult decision to swap one for the other when the time is right.
In a central attacking role, Ruben Loftus-Cheek will also see this as a missed chance. An unexpected start was rather wasted, much like the passes made by the 24-year-old in the final third.
Reece James starts with a statement
While it’s right to note Lamptey as an outstanding performer on one side, the man who essentially blocked his path to the Chelsea team also had a key role to play.
James defended diligently against Solly March’s constant runs, made a few challenges in the air off set pieces and passed out the back line well.
Finally, after the break, he started to get forward, too – and to great effect.
His absolute howitzer was an outrageous way to score a first-ever Premier League goal, while he also provided the corner assist for Zouma’s game-killing third goal.
Young English right-backs have a big competition on to earn international honours and compete with the most successful of them all, Trent Alexander-Arnold, but in this game there were two on show who have the capacity to do exactly that in future.