Romelu Lukaku and N’Golo Kante stood out as Chelsea played out a 1-1 draw with Brighton & Hove Albion on Wednesday.
The game had all the makings of a keenly-contested affair, but Chelsea soon took control over the proceedings. Captain Cesar Azpilicueta came close to scoring, only to hit the upright. However, Chelsea duly went ahead just before the half-hour mark, as Romelu Lukaku headed in a pinpoint delivery from a corner by Mason Mount.
However, after that, Brighton wrested control of the game’s running, and Chelsea needed Edouard Mendy and Antonio Rudiger to ensure the visitors did not find the back of the net heading into half-time. After the interval, Brighton continued from where they had left off, with Yves Bissouma testing Mendy with a long-range effort.
Chelsea regained control midway through the second half but could not trouble Robert Sanchez much in the Brighton goal. That would go on to hurt the hosts, as Brighton pulled level in injury time, as Danny Welbeck headed in a cross from Marc Cucurella to ensure a share of the spoils. After another winless result, Chelsea fell eight points behind Manchester City, and The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Thomas Tuchel’s men.
Edouard Mendy: 7/10
Mendy was a big reason why Chelsea did not lose the game on Wednesday, as he made a few crucial saves on either side of half-time to keep the score 1-0 until the dying embers of the match. However, he could not have done much to deny Danny Welbeck from his precise header.
Cesar Azpilicueta: 7/10
Wednesday was a momentous occasion for Azpilicueta, as he made his 450th appearance for Chelsea. And the Chelsea skipper came close to scoring in the first half, only for his scuffed effort to hit the post. Defensively, the Spaniard was solid for the most part, completing five clearances, three interceptions and three tackles.
— Nizaar Kinsella (@NizaarKinsella) December 29, 2021
Andreas Christensen: 6/10
The sweeper role in Chelsea’s backline seems to be cursed, as Andreas Christensen, replacing an injured Thiago Silva, picked up a knock that forced him off at half-time. He had soldiered on well for much of the first half, and Tuchel will hope he regains enough fitness to start against Liverpool.
Antonio Rudiger: 7/10
Rudiger was solid in his display at the back, for the most part, producing a couple of superb blocks while also winning most of his duels. However, some of his passes were wasteful, especially when Brighton piled the pressure on Chelsea. Nonetheless, Rudiger was the standout defender for the Blues.
Christian Pulisic: 5/10
After failing to spearhead the Chelsea attack in recent games, Pulisic was deployed as the right wing-back against Brighton. However, the UMSNT international’s struggles continued, with Marc Cucurella putting him under the cosh. He did not put in many crosses in the final third, and the role did not suit him much.
Mateo Kovacic: 6/10
Kovacic embodied how deep Chelsea’s troubles run, as he was forced to start despite being at around fifty per cent of his levels. The Croat lacked the crispness in his passes and was robbed off possession a few too many times for comfort. He will likely be back on the bench against Liverpool.
Usually so reliable with the ball at his feet, Jorginho lost possession 15 times and was strangled out by a raucous Brighton midfield. The Chelsea vice-captain also tried to open up play with long balls but to no avail. Defensively, he was solid for the most part, completing seven tackles and three clearances.
Reece James: 6/10
Tuchel’s problems were compounded as James picked up a leg injury that looked very concerning. With Liverpool being Chelsea’s next opponent, Tuchel will be sweating over his fitness.
Mason Mount: 7/10
Mount was Chelsea’s sole outlet in the final third for much of the game, and he played a team-high four key passes. The Englishman delivered the pinpoint cross for Romelu Lukaku to head in and was generally full of energy apart from a few moments when Brighton contained him well. He even put in the hard yards off the ball, completing four tackles and two interceptions.
Callum Hudson-Odoi: 6/10
Following a boisterous performance this past weekend against Aston Villa, Hudson-Odoi’s levels dropped versus Brighton, but he cannot be blamed a lot. After all, the youngster has only recently recovered from the coronavirus and is yet to regain full fitness. As for his performance, some of his passes were wasteful, and he seldom got into scoring positions. He should be rested on the weekend.
Romelu Lukaku: 8/10
Romelu Lukaku has scored in back-to-back Premier League games for the first time this season:
⚽️ vs Aston Villa
⚽️ vs Brighton
He's on the hunt. ? pic.twitter.com/igT79q1hmq
— William Hill (@WilliamHill) December 29, 2021
Lukaku was the standout performer for Chelsea among those who started the game, tirelessly working to create space for himself and his teammates. His ghosting run leading up to his goal was brilliant, while he cleverly directed the header itself. The Belgian striker also played a few key passes, but his teammates did not convert those.
Marcos Alonso: 5/10
Sent on in place of Reece James midway through the first half, Alonso’s performance vindicated Tuchel’s decision not to start him, as Tariq Lamptey gave him a hard time on his flank. On top of that, Alonso’s passing was wasteful and lacked innovation. He will be up against it when facing Mohamed Salah on the weekend.
Trevoh Chalobah: 7/10
On for Christensen at half-time, Chalobah produced a colossal performance for the most part at the heart of the Chelsea defence, completing six clearances while only losing possession once. However, he lost a key aerial duel against Welbeck late on, paving the way for Brighton to earn one point.
N’Golo Kante: 8/10
Introduced midway through the second half, Kante calmed things down when Brighton had left the Chelsea players helter-skelter up until that point. The Frenchman was crisp and precise with his passing while being tireless when off the ball.