Kepa Arrizabalaga and Reece James were the standouts for Chelsea as they were held to a 1-1 draw by Brighton & Hove Albion on Wednesday.
The first half was all Chelsea, who were untroubled by hosts, Brighton. And, the Blues made early inroads in the game, as Cesar Azpilicueta scored the first Premier League goal of the decade from close range. The visitors continues to dominate the proceedings for much of the remainder of the game, but had little to show in way of end product.
There were signs that this would come back to haunt them, with Kepa Arrizabalaga making two top saves on the other end. And, haunt them it did, as Alireza Jahanbaksh levelled things up with a stunning bicycle kick to ensure a share of the spoils. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Frank Lampard’s men.
Kepa Arrizabalaga: 9/10
The major reason why Chelsea went back home with even one point and not zilch. While his side did dominate the game, Brighton had the better of the chances aimed at his goal. Denied Leandro Trossard in the first half, before making even better saves from Aaron Connolly and Neal Maupay’s efforts; two stunning stops indeed. Could not have done anything to thwart Alireza Jahanbaksh.
Cesar Azpilicueta: 8/10
A solid display by the Chelsea captain, who showcased his versatility by playing as a left-back on Wednesday. Put Chelsea in command by tucking in the opener, finding himself in the right place at the right time. For the remainder of the game, Azpilicueta was astute in his defensive duties and was a threatening outlet in the final third as well. A good start to the year.
Kurt Zouma: 7/10
Zouma and Rudiger made for a dependable combo at the heart of the Chelsea defence. Snuffed out the danger by reading the game well, rarely letting Trossard past him. On the ball, however, he was off colour and gave the ball away in dangerous areas at times. However, when defending, he more than made up for it with his pacy recoveries.
Antonio Rudiger: 7/10
Much more assured than his partner, Rudiger was in his elements in the defensive phase, rendering Maupay to be largely ineffective. Looked frustrated at times for a lack of support from midfield, but his own performance was superb. Much more comfortable in a back four than a back three. Either way, Chelsea look much better at the back, with him in defence.
Reece James: 9/10
Reece James vs Brighton
82% pass accuracy
1 key pass
3 dribbles won
4 tackles won
4 aerials won
Another superb performance. What a talent! 🔵 pic.twitter.com/OvLVWvRTAV
— FootballTalentScout – Jacek Kulig (@FTalentScout) January 1, 2020
Back in the side after shrugging off an injury, James was arguably Chelsea’s most potent creative outlet against Brighton. Made one key pass and linked up well with Willian. Was dominant at the back as well, making more tackles (4) than anyone in the first half, before adding 4 interceptions to show for his efforts, while also winning 12 duels in all. A fantastic all round showing.
After playing a major role in Chelsea’s comeback win over Arsenal, Jorginho returned to the lineup. Still looks some way off the domineering midfield boss of the early season, though, as illustrated by an underwhelming passing rate of 80.6 percent. Nearly put his side in a spot of bother with a sloppy pass before Zouma bailed him out, but put in the hard yards off the ball. Needs to do better.
N’Golo Kante: 6/10
Kante was as Kante usually is. In typically industrious fashion, the Frenchman produced an all-action display on Wednesday, making a number of recoveries and winning four tackles. However, he was wasteful with the ball at his feet, boasting a paltry 75.9 percent pass accuracy. Should work on his passing.
Christian Pulisic: 6/10
Another player who returned after recovering from an injury. Pulisic endured a hit-and-miss outing at Brighton, looking dangerous on a number of occasions before going on the periphery at times. Did get into dangerous areas in and around the Brighton box, but was let down by wayward shooting. Still some way off his best.
Mason Mount: 6/10
Mount was given the floater role in the final third, which brought out the best in him to begin with. Pulled the strings well in the early exchanges, linking up well with those ahead of him, but faded as the minutes ticked by. A relative lack of involvement is indicative in the fact that he had just 35 touches on the ball and made just 20 passes.
Willian was another player who blew hot and cold over the course of the game. While it is testament to his fitness that he keeps on completing 90 minutes every three days, the effect of the workload is starting to show, as the Brazilian never got into a position to take aim at goal. Showed good understanding with James on the right, however. Perhaps due a rest this weekend in the FA Cup.
Tammy Abraham: 5/10
Tammy Abraham was credited with the assist for Chelsea’s goal, but other than that high point, there was very little for him to be talked about. Could have helped seal all three points at the end of a counter-attacking move. But, instead of picking Willian in acres of space, he chose to shoot, with his effort then being blocked. A huge opportunity missed, a poor decision in a crucial moment.
Callum Hudson-Odoi: 7/10
On for Pulisic, Hudson-Odoi was a bundle of energy in the final quarter of the game, taking on the Brighton defenders with pacy dribbles. Aimed three shots at goal, but to his frustrations, they were blocked away. A decent cameo, but one wherein he could not make a telling impact.
Mateo Kovacic: 6/10
Brought on to shore things up in midfield, Kovacic did well to retain Chelsea’s command over the game.