Six things we learned from Chelsea v Brighton & Hove Albion

Callum Hudson-Odoi on the ball. Picture by PW Sporting Photography
Callum Hudson-Odoi on the ball. Picture by PW Sporting Photography

Young England stars Callum Hudson-Odoi and Ruben Loftus-Cheek impressed as Chelsea ran out 3-0 winners against Brighton last night. Here's six things we learned from the Premier League match.

English youngsters star at the Bridge

Callum Hudson-Odoi made his first Premier League start and he caused the Seagulls all sorts of problems during the 90 minutes.

The English youngster had been heavily linked with a move to Bayern Munich during the January transfer window but you could see why Chelsea were so keen to keep hold of the winger.

He made his full England debut last week and Blues fans have been calling for him to start in recent weeks.

Hudson-Odoi had already looked threatening before he set up Olivier Giroud for Chelsea's opener seven minutes before half-time.

He should have found the back of the net when he horribly missed the ball shortly afterwards but he remained a threat in the second half and saw a header saved by Mathew Ryan.

His England team-mate Ruben Loftus-Cheek also impressed after getting the winner at Cardiff on Sunday. He scored a wonderful goal - Chelsea's third - when he curled the ball into the top corner from 22 yards.

The Blues have to keep hold of the duo and continue to give them game time, especially if the rumours linking Eden Hazard with a move to Real Madrid turn out to be true.

A difficult evening

Chances were few and far between for Brighton as Chelsea's defence enjoyed a comfortable evening's work.

The Seagulls worked hard to limit clear chances for the Blues but the result never looked in doubt from the moment Olivier Giroud got the opener.

Albion had a couple of half-chances when Solly March volleyed into the side netting from a tight angle and Bernardo had a low drive saved, before Anthony Knockaert got clean through in injury-time but wasted the opportunity.

There were ironic chants of 'We've had a shot' from Brighton fans after Bernardo's effort was saved and Chelsea never really looked like conceding.

Hazard a thorn in Albion's side again

Eden Hazard has been a thorn in Albion's side on all four occasions the sides have met in the Premier League.

The Belgium international had been rested from the start for Chelsea's 2-1 win at Cardiff on Sunday and Brighton boss Chris Hughton said in the build-up that he would be grateful if Hazard didn't start at Stamford Bridge.

Albion kept Hazard fairly quiet in the opening exchanges but he came to life with a couple of mazy runs before he should have scored at 0-0 when he blazed over.

He made it 2-0 on the hour with a trademark goal when he picked up the ball, drove forward and curled it home into the far corner.

A cruel injury blow

Solly March limped off after just half-an-hour with a calf injury and the winger is now likely to miss Saturday's FA Cup semi-final with Manchester City at Wembley.

It's a cruel blow for the winger who has been an ever-present in Albion's Premier League matchday squad this season.

His defensive work helping out the full-back and attacking threat on the wing is what Albion boss Chris Hughton likes about March who he knows he can rely on.

Attacking midfielder Pascal Gross is also set to miss the semi-final but Albion Hughton should otherwise have a fully fit squad to choose from.

A different option for Wembley?

Bernardo came on at left wing for the Seagulls and with Manchester City coming up in the semi-finals of the FA Cup on Saturday, is that a decision Albion boss Chris Hughton is contemplating?

The Brazilian looked lively in just under 20 minutes on the pitch and had Brighton's best effort at goal with a low drive well saved.

He has only been used at left-back this season, so it will be interesting to see if Hughton decides to start both Gaetan Bong and Bernardo in a bid to thwart City's array of attacking talent.

All eyes on Wembley now

Chris Hughton had said in the build-up that players had the chance to play their way into the starting line-up for Wembley with a strong performance.

While there were no stand-out performances, Hughton will have a strong idea of what his starting line-up will be and there's unlikely to be too many surprises.

Glenn Murray will most likely lead the line and the main question mark could be over who plays down the left-hand side. It could be a Gatean Bong and Bernardo combination or Bernardo could play at left-back and Alireza Jahanbakhsh will continue in his recent role on the left hand side of Albion's attacking trio.

It's a free hit for the players as no one expects Brighton to beat Manchester City. With the pressure off, can Albion cause one of the great FA Cup upsets of recent times?

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