The Media Review: Chelsea

Albion secured another point against the European champions on Tuesday night.

By Nick Szczepanik • 19 January 2022

By James Boardman
Adam Webster celebrates with his teammates after heading home the equaliser.

The visit of the European Champions to the Amex also brought the chief football writers and football correspondents to the press box. And while at one time all the reports would have been about Chelsea’s stuttering pursuit of Premier League leaders Manchester City, Albion’s performances now demand respect from the nation’s top football reporters.

According to Daily Telegraph chief football writer Sam Wallace, Chelsea were often “outplayed by the upwardly mobile Brighton and Hove Albion.

“Draws and near misses are becoming something of a drag for Graham Potter too, although the expectations are not quite as great on a Brighton manager whose side are playing some extremely accomplished football on a tighter budget.

“Brighton came from behind, a first half goal against the run of play from the otherwise forgettable Hakim Ziyech, equalising through a header from Adam Webster on the hour amid a splendid period of pressure. The Brighton captain had been a revelation as a ball-playing centre-half, and his defensive partnership with Dan Burn pushed Lukaku to the periphery of the game. Once again plenty of sparkle from Tariq Lamptey and very little from Chelsea.


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Webster's Chelsea reaction

“Certainly, the European champions got away with a lot in the first half and up to and beyond Webster’s equaliser on the hour. A first half of fizzing passes, well-drilled balls down channels for the runs of Lamptey in particular, and strong, confident pressing from the home side. They could just not put a decisive boot or head on the chances that would have changed the game.

“Lamptey, the former Chelsea academy boy,  ran the ball out courageously from the edge of his own area at one point, and later would leave Jorginho left in his wake and wishing he had not attempted to match the younger man for pace.

“Brighton deserved every part of Webster’s free header, which he ran onto leaving Marcos Alonso, who looked like his designated marker, admiring the view somewhere else. Chelsea were on the ropes with 20 minutes to play and an intriguing grapple had turned into an open, reckless shootout for the winner that was very entertaining.” 

John Cross of The Mirror also singled out stand-in skipper Webster, writing that “the Brighton fans were jumping because they outplayed the European champions after Graham Potter masterminded another scintillating performance.

“Yet again, Chelsea let another result slip as Hakim Ziyech’s opener was cancelled out by man of the match Adam Webster and the Brighton defender is definitely playing well enough to earn himself an England call-up.


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Extended PL Highlights: Albion 1 Chelsea 1

“Dropping points at Brighton is no disgrace because Potter is building something really special at the Amex but Chelsea just cannot find the right formation or winning formula.

“All credit to Brighton. Alexis Mac Allister saw a shot deflected and Chelsea keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga made a super save to push the ball round for a corner.

“Mac Allister put over a corner and in raced Webster, the Brighton defender was left unmarked and powered home a brilliant header.”

Tom Roddy of The Times referred back to Monday’s pre-match press conference when “Graham Potter had suggested he couldn’t ever be regarded as a “sexy” manager but any Premier League side would be attracted to what he’s achieving with Brighton & Hove Albion. Another deserved point for Potter, thanks to Adam Webster’s thunderous headed equaliser, after Hakim Ziyech’s opener, earned another draw against Chelsea that pulls Tuchel’s team further into a top-four battle.

“Chelsea had never lost to Brighton in the league, their only defeat 89 years ago in the FA Cup, but the record books fail to represent the balance of competition and, in recent meetings, Brighton were far from inferior.

“And so the trend continued, as Potter’s team controlled possession for large parts, played the more aesthetically pleasing football and generated the greater chances, only to be left ruing their misses.

“One of three changes Potter had made from Friday’s derby draw with Crystal Palace was reintroducing Tariq Lamptey, the lively full back signed from Chelsea 18 months ago, who had suffered a groin injury. There appeared to be no signs of damage as he raced down the right wing, drawing inaudible intakes of breath from the home fans after accelerating past Mount, Kanté and Silva with such ferocious speed. Marcos Alonso had little chance and was booked on the hour mark for a cynical foul.”

By Paul Hazlewood
Tariq Lamptey has been called up by England under-21s.

Long-time Albion observer Tom Barclay of The Sun wrote that “Tuchel still has not beaten Graham Potter in three attempts now.

“Potter has fast become one of the most in-vogue bosses in England for how he has transformed Brighton - even if he does have an unglamorous name.

“It was tough not to be seduced by the football his side served up in the first 27 minutes as they dominated the champions of Europe.

“The one-touch stuff was gorgeous, the passing sultry and the way Tariq Lamptey ran at his cowering former team-mates had adoring fans in a fluster.

“The 21-year-old, who left Stamford Bridge for around £3million in January 2020, was deployed as a winger to expose shaky Marcos Alonso with his explosive pace.”

Sami Mokbel of the Daily Mail admitted that “Brighton were well worth their point. Indeed, the fact Chelsea will have left grateful for their point tells you all you need to know. The Seagulls were excellent during the opening exchanges: easy on the eye and bursting with invention.

“There can be no denying Brighton are among the most attractive teams to watch in England. A team with a clear philosophy, a team who take risks, a team that entertains. But they are also a team that have for so long been toothless where and when it matters the most.


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Potter on "fantastic" Chelsea performance

“Only Wolves have scored less than Brighton from all the teams that occupy the top 10 positions in the Premier League. Until Potter solves that conundrum, Brighton will always be looking worryingly over their shoulders.

“Their problems in front of goal were laid bare again immediately after the break, Welbeck driving wildly over the bar when offered a clear strike at goal from Pascal Gross through ball just 20 seconds into the second half.

“So when Brighton scored the equaliser they so richly deserved on the hour mark, Tuchel could have had no complaints. Inevitably, given Brighton’s difficulty in carving out clear cut opportunities, their leveller arrived from a set-piece.

“Having just kept out Alexis Mac Allister’s deflected effort, Kepa Arrizabalaga had no chance with the Argentinian’s resultant corner that was headed home by Adam Webster. The Chelsea keeper had no chance, Webster’s connection was true - it flew past Kepa like a bullet.

“Chelsea were on the ropes. Webster was driving his team forward from defence, while Lamptey was causing Alonso all worlds of problems until his substitution in the 76th minute.”

Jacob Steinberg of The Guardian has seen plenty of recent Albion games but is also a regular reporter on Chelsea, and he wrote that “Brighton were the sharper side from the start. Brilliantly drilled by Graham Potter, they dominated the early stages. Steven Alzate and Pascal Gross set a brisk tempo in midfield for the home side and Chelsea struggled with Brighton’s frenetic pressing, César Azpilicueta, Jorginho and Ziyech all giving the ball away in dangerous areas.

“The problem for Potter’s team, though, was a familiar one. Jakub Moder skewed wide from the edge of the area after combining with Danny Welbeck, who would also bungle an opportunity, and it did not come as much of a surprise when Brighton’s lack of bite proved costly.


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PL Highlights: Albion 1 Chelsea 1

“Ziyech, surprisingly selected after disappointing against City, was a one-paced irrelevance for long spells, but at least he made a positive contribution in the 28th minute, taking a pass from N’Golo Kanté before cutting in from the right and catching Sánchez out with a low drive from 25 yards.

“Brighton should have equalised at the start of the second half, only for Welbeck to miss with an angled drive. Welbeck’s pace was worrying Antonio Rüdiger and Thiago Silva, but the Brighton striker was not alone in causing havoc. Tariq Lamptey kept sprinting at Marcos Alonso, whose booking for fouling the right-back was utterly predictable, and Kanté and Jorginho had become increasingly swamped in the middle, the clever interchanges between Marc Cucurella, Alexis Mac Allister and Moder leaving Chelsea dazed and confused.”

The i paper referred to an unwanted piece of Albion history, pointing out that “Brighton have still never beaten Chelsea in a league game, but the four points they have denied them this season have been costly to the European champions.

“Chelsea need victories if they are to retain any hopes of catching Manchester City but have only won one of their past seven league games. Despite taking the lead at the Amex Stadium, they seldom looked like a side hungry to close the gap on the leaders, and it would have been a travesty if Brighton had lost.

“Hakim Ziyech put Chelsea ahead after 28 minutes with only his second Premier League goal of the season. But Brighton’s stand-in captain Adam Webster headed the Seagulls level on the hour and they were well worth their point. They looked the more energetic side all evening,”

Joseph McBride of the Daily Star online wrote about what Tuchel had done right but even under that heading noted how close Albion had come to winning. “Brighton have become one of the most admired sides in the Premier League, and Chelsea learnt first-hand at Stamford Bridge that Graham Potter's side cannot be underestimated.

“Unlike many other smaller sides, Brighton enjoy playing the 'big six', and regularly give them a good game too, and the Seagulls dominated the early stages.

“But the best teams pounce when the opportunity presents itself, and Chelsea took full advantage as Brighton failed to close down Ziyech, who smashed in the opening goal.

“Brighton pressed and hassled for the majority of the night, but the first time that they took their foot off the gas, Chelsea punished them. They might have come away with more than a draw if they had kept up their intensity for the entirety of the night.”