After Leandro Trossard opened the scoring in the fifth minute, own goals from Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Trevoh Chalobah left Chelsea reeling 3-0 at half-time. Kai Havertz’s header early in the second half was too little too late for Graham Potter’s side, as Pascal Gross put the icing on the cake in stoppage time to hand Roberto de Zerbi his first win as Brighton boss.
With De Zerbi getting his first victory as Brighton’s manager, here are the three talking points between Brighton and Chelsea.
Marc Cucurella endures a difficult afternoon on Brighton return
Brighton fans reminded Marc Cucurella how they felt about his decision to leave the club for Chelsea after just one season, booing the left wing-back every time upon receiving the ball.
The Seagulls’ player of the season last year, Cucurella endured another tough afternoon for Chelsea. After being hooked early on in Chelsea’s draw with Manchester United last weekend, the Spaniard struggled again on the left of a three-man backline as Brighton’s left wing-back Pervis Estupinan enjoyed a lot of joy down his side.
Estupinan stretched the Chelsea defenders and especially gave Cucurella a tough time, playing a big part in the third goal for Brighton.
Chelsea plot their own downfall
The most notable problem in Chelsea’s first-half display was their lack of defensive organisation and cohesion.
The players looked nervy to play out from the back and made silly errors, starting from Thiago Silva—their most experienced defender. Silva was forced to make two goal-line clearances, something which stirred the Brighton players.
After Trossard opened the scoring, own goals from Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Trevoh Chalobah both gave the Seagulls the impetus they were looking for. Chelsea never seemed to recover, and were probed and pressed time and again on the counter attack, where De Zerbi’s side took great advantage of their opposition’s defensive vulnerabilities.
Leandro Trossard delivers on the big stage, again!
Leandro Trossard has an impressive record against the Premier League’s traditional ‘Big Six’, and he delivered the goods on the big stage again.
The Belgian has been Brighton’s standout player this season with seven goals and an assist in 12 games, including the opener against Chelsea. After being played on by Mitoma, Trossard danced his way past Kepa and fired home to send the Amex Stadium into raptures, following on from his goal in the 3-1 defeat to Man City last weekend.
The 27-year-old netted away at Liverpool (a hattrick this season, no less), Arsenal and Tottenham last season, demonstrating his quality to come up with big moments in big games. And Trossard’s overall performance and a goal against Chelsea was another validation of his dependability to provide the goods when most required.
De Zerbi tactically trounces Potter
After a solid start for Graham Potter at the helm of Chelsea, the 4-1 defeat to Brighton seemed to be a reality check for the amount of work that still needs to be done at the football club.
Chelsea lined up in the same 3-5-2 shape that had helped them win 2-1 away at RB Salzburg in the Champions League, and while the plan worked out well in midweek, they found themselves 3-0 down against Roberto de Zerbi’s men at half-time.
De Zerbi, who certainly learnt some tough lessons in the defeats to Spurs, Brentford and Man City, told his players to exploit the spaces behind Chelsea’s makeshift wing-backs—Christian Pulisic and Raheem Sterling—and they obliged. The ease with which Pervis Estupinan and Pascal Gross bombed forward either wing in the first half was scary to watch, as Chelsea had no answers.
Neither Sterling nor Pulisic got any hold in the game whilst displaying zilch defensive awareness about them. Not only the decision to use them as wing-backs was wrong but the entire set-up to stop Brighton from playing lacked a plan, unlike De Zerbi, who tactically picked apart the Blues and exploited their defensive weaknesses to great effect.