Hakim Ziyech and Thiago Silva were the minor positives as Chelsea played out a 1-1 draw with Brighton & Hove Albion on Tuesday.
Brighton began the game as the stronger of the two sides, constantly pinning back Chelsea, albeit without the required end product. The Blues themselves were not too prolific, although they did manage to break the deadlock in the 28th minute when Hakim Ziyech unleashed a driven shot from outside the box that rifled into Robert Sanchez’s near post.
But that was as good as it got for Chelsea for the next half an hour, although Callum Hudson-Odoi did get a chance to double the lead at the stroke of half-time. The hosts wrested control at the onset of the second half and were duly rewarded for their persistence when Adam Webster headed in Alexis Mac Allister’s corner past Kepa Arrizabalaga to make it 1-1.
After that, both teams traded blows, only for Marcos Alonso and Neal Maupay to spurn half-chances. In the end, the match ended in a stalemate, with Chelsea dropping points for the ninth time in 13 Premier League games, meaning their title hopes are dangling by a thread. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Thomas Tuchel’s men.
Kepa Arrizabalaga: 6/10
Even though Brighton had many dominant spells in the game, Kepa barely had any goalkeeping to do, apart from one save where he reacted brilliantly to a deflected shot from Alexis Mac Allister. But the Spaniard conceded from the resulting corner, although there was nothing that he could have done to keep out Adam Webster’s thumping effort.
Cesar Azpilicueta: 5/10
Tuchel reverted to the 4-2-2-2 formation against Brighton, which meant Azpilicueta started as the right-back. But the Chelsea captain struggled against the pace and trickery of Marc Cucurella. While the Spaniard forayed forward on a few occasions, his output was sub-par apart from a shot that Robert Sanchez saved. But he needs to do much better defensively.
Thiago Silva: 7/10
Silva was typically unassuming in his performance, making a game-high eight clearances while producing a couple of crucial blocks. But Brighton’s counter-press sometimes affected his passing to some extent, as he lost possession 12 times. That was only a minor blip in his display though.
Antonio Rudiger: 6/10
Rudiger endured a blow-hot-blow-cold outing against Brighton. There were moments when there was no way past him, but he also failed to track Webster’s run leading to the equaliser. The German international was precise with the ball at his feet, misplacing the ball only four times.
Marcos Alonso: 5/10
Tuchel’s decision to revert to the 4-2-2-2 formation did not pay dividends, especially when it came to Marcos Alonso’s performance. The Spaniard endured a nightmarish outing against Tariq Lamptey, whose change of pace left him huffing and puffing. Alonso was also sloppy with the ball at his feet, losing possession a staggering 25 times. Chelsea must sign a left-back as soon as possible.
N’Golo Kante: 6/10
The Chelsea midfielders were well off their best on Tuesday, with Kante being slightly better than Jorginho. The Frenchman opened up play nicely with a few long passes and laid the ball on for Hakim Ziyech in the build-up to the opener. But Kante was not up to the mark in the defensive phases, which is a rarity. And in the second half, he became a little wasteful in possession.
Back in the starting lineup after being excluded against Manchester City, Jorginho endured a horrific game versus Brighton. While the Chelsea vice-captain remained largely precise with the ball at his feet, there were moments of carelessness, both in possession and in the defensive phases. Alexis Mac Allister, in particular, troubled him a lot, overrunning Jorginho several times.
Hakim Ziyech: 7/10
4 – All four of Hakim Ziyech's Premier League goals for Chelsea have come away from home, netting at Turf Moor, the Etihad Stadium, Vicarage Road and now the Amex Stadium. Leathered. #BHACHE
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) January 18, 2022
A surprise starter after his dreadful display against Manchester City, Ziyech looked to make things happen in the first half. And he did exactly that in the 28th minute when his driven shot went past Robert Sanchez for the opener. But apart from that one moment, the Moroccan international was once again sloppy and unimaginative, and the goal is not enough for him to script a turnaround at Chelsea.
Mason Mount: 5/10
Reinstated to the starting lineup after being omitted from the side against Manchester City, Mount had a point to prove on Tuesday. But the English international was sub-par, as he struggled to pull the strings and engineer the openings high up the pitch. Despite seeing a lot of the ball, his end product left a lot to be desired.
Romelu Lukaku: 5/10
With Brighton dominating the proceedings for large parts, Lukaku struggled to get into the game as much as he would have liked. The Belgian striker linked up with his teammates smartly and laid the ball on for a fellow attacker on a few occasions, only to not be rewarded justly. But he could not get into decent scoring positions, with his goalscoring woes continuing.
Callum Hudson-Odoi: 4.5/10
Hudson-Odoi was essentially deployed as a striker in Tuchel’s 4-2-2-2 setup, but he looked to stretch out the Brighton defence by roving outwards to the left flank. He had a glorious opportunity to score in the first half, but he fluffed his lines and directed his shot off target. He needs to do better.
Kai Havertz: N/A
On for Lukaku, Havertz barely managed a touch on the ball in the game’s dying embers.
Mateo Kovacic: N/A
Sent into the game in place of Jorginho, Kovacic pushed Chelsea forward in the final ten minutes but could not produce a game-changing moment.
Timo Werner: N/A
A late introduction, Werner barely had any time to tip the scales in Chelsea’s favour.