Reporting from Stamford Bridge
Amid the chaos, it was easy to forget that there was a game of football.
The news of the European Super League was everywhere, including at Stamford Bridge, where roughly one thousand Chelsea fans came to protest against the club’s involvement.
A strong police presence was met with stunning fan solidarity, ensuring their voices were heard on the streets of west London.
After two hours of protests, it was the fans who prevailed. Chelsea were to pull out of the European Super League, met with joyous celebrations by Blues fans. The people had won, and as the drama pandered down, the focus was back on the pitch.
Chelsea welcomed Brighton to Stamford Bridge, knowing that a win would see them move third in the Premier League. Twenty-four hours earlier, that was meaningless – what a difference a day makes.
The Blues, coming off the back of their impressive FA Cup semi-final win against Manchester City, would have fancied their chances against a side deep in a relegation battle. But it did not take long to see the emergence of a common theme which has long held them back in the past.
With Kai Havertz leading the line, Chelsea looked as if they could strike first in style. The German’s effort was parried away by Robert Sanchez, proving to be his best chance all game.
As the game progressed, Chelsea did not show any improvement in attack. The sword was blunt and the chances afew, with the Blues not creating nor taking their limited opportunities in front of goal.
Even with the energetic creativity of Christian Pulisic and Hakim Ziyech, they rarely looked like threatening the visiting Seagulls. Mason Mount could not get as involved in the game as he would have liked to, restricted to a central midfield pivot which remains promising.
Whether it was under Frank Lampard or Tuchel, the Blues’ lack of cutting edge has cost them far too often, holding them back from being serious title challengers. It is the most damaging criticism of the west Londoners: blessed with world-class attacking gems, but not producing the expected end product.
The luck may have been against the Blues at times – Jorginho running into referee Stuart Attwell a prime example – but to not even managed a goal against a relegation side at home raises some serious questions. The attacking performance simply was not good enough.
Many teams have come to the Bridge and failed to threaten Thomas Tuchel’s men, but Brighton will count themselves unlucky not to leave the capital with all three points. Graham Potter’s side were superb from start to finish, executing a successful press while coming so close to breaking the deadlock on numerous occasions. It is two points lost rather than a point gained for the Seagulls.
While the result was underwhelming, there are positives for Chelsea.
Kepa Arrizabalaga deservedly kept his spot in goal and produced another excellent performance, making it consecutive clean sheets within three days.
Jorginho led by example in the heart of midfield, shaky at times but ultimately dictating the game at crucial points.
Even the state of the Premier League table reads positively for Chelsea, as they go back into the top four and just a point off third-place Leicester City. With six games to go, a top four finish is firmly in Tuchel’s hands, and the focus remains on finishing strongly across all three competitions.
Yet ultimately, it is a day which will be remembered for the victory off the pitch rather than the stalemate on it.
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The European Super League will kill the beauty of the beautiful game