Chelsea strolled home to a comfortable 3-0 win against Brighton & Hove Albion on Wednesday night, to keep up the pressure on their top-four rivals.
Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri made as many as seven changes to the team that started against Cardiff City at the weekend, recalling star men N’Golo Kante and Eden Hazard, while handing Callum Hudson-Odoi his first ever PL start. The Blues started the game on a strong note, with the teenager seeing an effort blocked just 11 minutes into the game.
Chelsea continued to keep coming at the Seagulls, who held firm and kept them out, until the 38th minute, when Olivier Giroud broke the deadlock with a delicate finish at the near post after some brilliant wing-play from Hudson-Odoi on the right-side.
Fifteen minutes after the break, Chelsea were up 2-0 when Eden Hazard hit home a stunning curler after being played in by Ruben Loftus-Cheek. Minutes later, the pair were involved again, but the roles were reversed as Hazard turned provider for Loftus-Cheek who found the top corner with a sublime effort from the edge of the box to seal three points.
Full-time: Chelsea 3-0 Brighton! 🙌
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) April 3, 2019
Brighton offered very little attacking threat as Sarri’s men held on for a straightforward victory to move into the fifth position in the Premier League standings. Here’s how the Chelsea stars fared on the night at Stamford Bridge;
Kepa Arrizabalaga: 6/10
One of the easiest nights he has had as a Chelsea player as the world’s most expensive goalkeeper did not have a single save to make all game. Did show alertness to come out against crosses and long balls and used possession smartly.
Cesar Azpilicueta: 6.5/10
A fairly solid game for the Chelsea captain, who got forward more than what has been the case this season. Combined well with Hudson-Odoi, but his end product wasn’t always there. Apart from being beaten easily by Yves Bissouma on one occasion in the first period, Azpilicueta stayed solid and steady at the back as well.
Andreas Christensen: 7/10
The academy graduate was handed a rare start in the Premier League, with Sarri opting to rest Antonio Rudiger and Christensen made most of his opportunity. Was alert to whatever little threat Brighton conjured up in the final third and dealt with Florin Andone without much trouble. Used the ball well too. An all-round solid display.
David Luiz: 7/10
The Brazilian wasn’t stretched all that much by the Brighton attackers and was solid enough when he needed to be. Played a few dangerous passes out from the back and exuded composure, something that was missing from his game against Cardiff at the weekend.
Emerson Palmieri: 7/10
Making just his fifth Premier League start of the season, owing to the injury to Marcos Alonso, the Italian international had a comfortable night against the Seagulls. Hardly tested defensively, which allowed him to get forward regularly and offer width down the left-hand side whenever Hazard opted to cut inside.
N’Golo Kante: 7/10
Back into the starting XI after being left out against Cardiff, the Frenchman showed exactly what Chelsea missed against the Bluebirds at the weekend. Displayed the usual energy and hustle in the middle of the park and caused problems with his forward runs on occasions. Could have marked his 100th Premier League outing for the Blues with a goal, but skied his effort from six yards.
Jorginho’s game by numbers vs. Brighton:
152 passes completed
85 successful forward passes
62 successful final third passes
28 passes to Eden Hazard
10 ball recoveries
6 accurate long balls
2 tackles won
Exactly what he was bought to do. 🎯 pic.twitter.com/DWoh5ZhyBZ
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) April 3, 2019
One of his most accomplished performances in recent weeks as he controlled the game from the middle of the park. Constantly found the runs of Hazard and Hudson-Odoi with aerial balls and looked positive and purposeful each time he was in possession. Made a number of ball recoveries and interceptions in the middle as well. Needs to build on this display.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek: 8/10
Handed a start after his match-winning goal against Cardiff, Loftus-Cheek showed exactly why he should be starting more matches for Chelsea. Drove forward with purpose each time he got the ball causing problems to the Brighton defence. Got the assist for Hazard’s goal before capping off the display with an exceptionally well-taken goal.
Callum Hudson-Odoi: 8/10
All eyes were on the teenage sensation as he made his first-ever start in the Premier League and he shone bright. Posed a serious threat to the Brighton defence every time he galloped at them with pace from the right-side, delivering some threatening crosses into the box, including the assist for Giroud’s opener.
Had a few chances to mark his first start with a goal, but scuffed one effort, while he headed another straight at Mat Ryan. Staking a claim for more involvement in the Premier League.
Olivier Giroud: 7/10
Given the nod ahead of Gonzalo Higuain, Giroud justified his selection with a nice all-round display in the final-third. Played well with his back against the goal, linking up well with his fellow attackers and opened the scoring with a lovely finish – only his second Premier League goal of the season and first in 2019.
Eden Hazard: 8/10
Back into the starting lineup, Hazard grew into the game with time after a slightly scratchy start that had seen him fire a shot well over and be crowded out by the Brighton defence. Was hard to stop once he got into his elements as he caused the visitors all sorts of problems when on the ball. Put his team in the driver’s seat with a peach of a goal to make it 2-0, before assisting Loftus-Cheek for the third.
Davide Zappacosta: 5/10
Replaced Azpilicueta for the final fifteen minutes or so, affording the Spaniard some rest.
Mateo Kovacic: N/A
Came on for Loftus-Cheek with less than ten minutes on the clock.
Replaced Hazard in the 84th minute.