Six things we learned from Brighton & Hove Albion v Chelsea

Yves Bissouma closes down Chelsea's Marcos Alonso. Picture by PW Sporting  Photography
Yves Bissouma closes down Chelsea's Marcos Alonso. Picture by PW Sporting Photography

Brighton lost 2-1 at home to Chelsea in the Premier League this afternoon. Here's six things we learned from the game.

Too slow to get going

Chelsea showed their quality throughout but it was a sloppy performance all over the pitch from Brighton for an hour.

The opening 60 minutes was up there with the poorest Albion have played at home in their two seasons in the Premier League.

Long balls forward went straight to a Chelsea player or out of play, flicks did not come off and Albion players were caught offside on too many occasions.

It was reflected by a flat and frustrated atmosphere for long periods as Brighton failed to maintain any pressure on the Chelsea defence for any period of time and the visitors comfortably led 2-0.

Chelsea's second goal summed up Albion's first half performance as Leon Balogun gifted possession to Willian, who slipped Eden Hazard through on goal and the Belgian international coolly scored.

The last half-an-hour was much better and had a higher tempo from Albion. They got a goal back through Solly March but despite late pressure, Chelsea held on to all three points.

Star of the show

Eden Hazard ran the show against Albion at the Amex for the second time this year.

He scored twice in Chelsea's 4-0 victory at Brighton in January and tormented the Brighton defence again this afternoon.

The Belgian forward played in the false number nine role and continued his outstanding start to the Premier League season with another goal and assist as Brighton had no answer to Hazard's brilliance.

After he had a shot blocked, he went on a mazy run and set up Pedro for Chelsea's opener on 17 minutes before he coolly slotted home the second just past the half-hour when Leon Balogun gifted possession to Willian.

Improving all the time

Solly March is improving game by game this season and scored his first goal of the campaign this afternoon.

The winger had netted just once in his previous 52 Premier League games and was recently challenged by manager Chris Hughton to add more goals to his game.

He has already provided five assists this season and Glenn Murray says the skills March shows in training is frightening.

Albion will hope March's first goal of the season - and first since September last year - will be the catalyst for him to go on and score on a more regular basis.

If the 24-year-old can continue his consistent performances and add goals to his game, there's no reason why an England call-up won't come in the next 12 to 18 months.

Food for thought

The performances of substitutes Florin Andone and Yves Bissouma will give Brighton boss Chris Hughton decisions to make for next week's match at Bournemouth.

Albion improved with the duo on the pitch in the last quarter of the game and both have impressed in recent weeks.

Hughton has options for the match away to the Cherries, especially with winger Alireza Jahanbakhsh likely to be back available after missing the match with Chelsea after suffering a slight set-back in training.

Albion's boss is unlikely to move away from his favoured 4-4-1-1 formation, so could Bissouma and Andone come in for Pascal Gross and Glenn Murray? Could Andone play in the number ten role behind Murray? Will Bissouma replace one of Dale Stephens or Davy Propper in the middle of the park?

This competition for places shows the strength in depth of Albion's squad this season. With a busy Christmas period coming up, the majority of the squad are likely to get their chance over the coming weeks.

Mistakes will be punished

In the Championship and even against teams in the lower half of the Premier League, you can get away with mistakes.

But that will not happen against any of the top six sides in England.

The ball was in the back of the Albion net just seconds after Leon Balogun's pass went straight to Willian inside the Chelsea half on 33 minutes.

Willian fed Eden Hazard, who made no mistake after he was sent through on goal. That put Chelsea 2-0 up and left Brighton with a mountain to climb.

The visitors held on to win 2-1 and five of Brighton's six defeats at the Amex since promotion to the Premier League have come against last season's top six.

Red or not?

Brighton fans were baying for a red card when Solly March went down under a Marcos Alonso challenge in the closing stages.

The Chelsea left-back dragged March back as the winger looked to race on to Yves Bissouma's pass. Referee Stuart Attwell only showed Alonso a yellow card and Albion boss Chris Hughton afterwards said he felt it should have been red.

March sent the resulting free kick over but had Alonso been dismissed, would Albion have managed to grab an equaliser?

There was another incident earlier in the second half when David Luiz appeared to kick out at Brighton striker Florin Andone following a tangle, although he did not make much contact.

Time will tell whether The FA retrospectively look at that incident.


Brighton & Hove Albion v Chelsea player ratings

Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri on victory at Brighton and an update on Eden Hazard's injury

Chris Hughton on whether Brighton deserved a point, the 'poor' goals Albion conceded, if Chelsea should have had a red card and more

Eden Hazard the star of the show as Chelsea beat Brighton