To most neutral football fans who have watched in amazement at the 48-hour rise and fall of the European Super League, Albion’s match at Chelsea might have felt like something of a sideshow to the main event, especially as it ended goalless.
But it was an important point for the Seagulls – a first at Stamford Bridge – and the result gave the writers from the national papers the chance to contrast the efforts of would-be Super-Leaguers Chelsea with the battling Brighton performance and make a point of their own.
Jacob Steinberg of The Guardian did it as neatly as anyone. He wrote: “The point Brighton made by holding Chelsea should not be lost on the grasping plotters behind the despised European Super League. This was proof that football does not belong to the petty, small-minded men looking to change the face of the sport for the benefit of their own bank balances.
“The game is about competition, risk and drama. It is about underdogs inconveniencing a club owned by a Russian oligarch, who has belatedly seen sense and decided to pull Chelsea away from an absurd closed shop built for joyless suits.
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“Brighton were excellent, pricking the pomposity of the Premier League’s big six with a display full of craft and intelligence. Graham Potter’s smart side were well worth a point and easily frustrated Chelsea, who are only above fifth-placed West Ham on goal difference.
“No doubt the wretched few driving this rotten project were aghast at the thought of Chelsea actually having to work to win a game of football. They must have been appalled when Brighton refused to roll over during the first half.
“Brighton were fired by indignation. The mood on the pitch was spiky from the moment their players emerged wearing T-Shirts reading ‘Earn It’, just as Leeds had against Liverpool on Monday. ‘If you mistake a football supporter for a consumer, then you’re in real trouble,’ Potter said.
“Brighton were up for it, rattling Chelsea and defending with supreme organisation. Yves Bissouma dominated midfield and Danny Welbeck was a pesky irritant up front. Kai Havertz, Christian Pulisic and Hakim Ziyech all struggled to find a way past Brighton’s stubborn defence.
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“Brighton were defiant and almost snatched victory despite losing Ben White to a late red card, Welbeck hitting the post and Adam Lallana testing Kepa Arrizabalaga.”
Riath Al-Samarrai of the Daily Mail had been unimpressed by Albion’s goalless draw against Everton but saw far more to like both inside and outside Stamford Bridge. “The little people won,” he wrote. “The little people who took their banners onto the streets had their win, and the little people who make up the numbers in the table had their draw. A draw that for all the world felt like a win.
“And that’s because of what Brighton proved and the timely manner in which they proved it. They showed the full flexibility of that inflammatory term – ‘super’ - and they showed up the nonsense and arrogance in the ludicrous concept behind it.
“If mighty Chelsea cannot beat little Brighton then what, you wonder, was all the fuss about? Just how super could they be, that super club who felt emboldened to pull up the super rope ladder to their super tree house?
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“What a lovely evening for those questions, and for a smaller club to demonstrate before a global audience that football's meritocracy, for all its flaws, is better than what a few cash-bloated buffoons chose as its replacement. A pretty dull game, yes, and barely a whiff of a good chance, but what a delightfully seismic occasion.
“Brighton had a little push in the second half and Danny Welbeck even hit the post. But their status is increasingly comfortable. The main thing that counts for them at this stage is staying in the division, and they are making good ground in that direction. If they pull it off, it won't be the biggest achievement of the season but it will be a good one, because playing in the Premier League matters.
“It hasn't mattered enough for everyone, though. Not by a long shot. It would be awfully generous to forget that in a hurry.”
Sam Dean of the Daily Telegraph was also reporting on his second successive Albion game, and enjoying it more than the Everton stalemate.
“Amid everything else, a football match did take place on Tuesday night,” he wrote. “It was feisty and fierce, if not particularly flowing, and it felt like yet more proof of the foolishness of the Super League idea that Brighton were so competitive on this trip to Stamford Bridge.
“At the end, the points were shared. Brighton fully deserved theirs, with Graham Potter’s side doing well to limit Chelsea to just a few glimpses of goal and ultimately going closest to snatching a winner.
“For Brighton it was another helpful point which could have been more. It is always the way with Potter’s team, who do so many good things in a match but so rarely make it count. It was they who had the best goal-scoring opportunities here, with Adam Lallana and Danny Welbeck both going close before Ben White’s late red card saw them settle for a draw.
“Potter was full of praise for his players and for Chelsea’s fans, despite their protests resulting in kick-off being delayed by 15 minutes. ‘I think they spoke for all football fans,’ he said. ‘It feels like it’s been a universal response and that’s one positive, the strength of the feeling. It was nice to see them outside, even though they delayed the game.
“’It was disruptive, and we completely understood why. We were happy to see it. They [the supporters] made a fantastic point.’
“The result took Brighton to 16th place, seven points clear of the drop. They are far too good to go down, and have been all season, and this was another showing that proved they are capable of competing with the biggest sides in the league despite their lowly league position.
“It felt like a blessing that the game carried significance, given everything that has been discussed in recent days, and Brighton were in no mood to allow Chelsea to demonstrate their superiority. Tuchel’s side did not look anything like a ‘Super’ team in either half and were restricted to half-chances for Christian Pulisic and Kai Havertz before Olivier Giroud fired wide at the end.
“It was there for Brighton to take, and it looked like they might have done so, despite losing White to a second yellow card, when Welbeck fired a late effort towards goal. His curling strike hit the post, though, allowing Chelsea to escape on a night that will not be remembered for their showing on the pitch.
Jordan Davies of The Sun described “a dogged Brighton side not worthy of gracing a ‘Super League’ according to several disgraced and deluded owners.
“Thomas Tuchel will not be happy with Chelsea’s result on the night. But clubs across the country and the continent will just be glad to see competitive action doing what it does best. Messing with the emotions. Creating narratives. Providing drama.
“Despite the historic nature of the evening, Chelsea boss Tuchel admitted to being frustrated. Not because the visiting Seagulls warmed up in the controversial ‘Earn It’ T-shirts, rather the unavoidable distractions for his players. Danny Welbeck went closest after smacking a curling effort off the post late on before Ben White’s second yellow in injury time.”
Molly Hudson of The Times was one of very few writers to attempt to describe any of the football in any detail at all when she wrote that “Tuchel acknowledged Chelsea were lucky to escape with a point, as only the width of a post prevented Danny Welbeck from scoring a winning goal after the Brighton striker capitalised on an error from Jorginho as the midfielder lingered on the ball in his own half.”
But that was as far as it went, and she closed by saying that “the point meant that Brighton inched closer to safety, seven points clear of Fulham, who are in the final relegation spot. Brighton defender, Ben White, received a second yellow card deep into stoppage time as Hudson-Odoi broke forward, but ultimately, neither side could get the job done.”