It felt like Chelsea were playing to avenge a defeat on Wednesday night, when they hosted Brighton at Stamford Bridge. The Blues were returning after late 2-1 win over Cardiff, though that didn’t feel like a win. Though the lethargic, lacklustre performance had resulted in three points, it was important to show a revitalised performance at the Bridge.
The team selection was all but perfect from Maurizio Sarri. There were three academy products in the starting eleven, as Andreas Christensen and Ruben Loftus-Cheek came into the team. However the most notable addition by far was Callum Hudson-Odoi, who finally earned his first Premier League start. This was the perfect team in my eyes, and they had to prove that at the Bridge.
Chelsea needed to settle into the game in the opening half hour, as they were generally chasing the ball off a strong Brighton side. With their fans in fine voice and the team in high spirits amid their trip to Wembley, they started the better side at Stamford Bridge and could’ve grabbed the opening goal.
However, it was Chelsea who opened the scoring on 38 minutes, as Hudson-Odoi flashed the ball across the box for Olivier Giroud to fire home. That goal finally gave Chelsea the momentum and advantage they needed, as they took firm control of the game before half-time.
It was two goals in three minutes that truly killed the game off, as the Blues stepped up in the second half. First, Eden Hazard cut in and curled his shot into the bottom corner on the hour mark to double their lead. Loftus-Cheek scored an even better goal three minutes later, as he opened up his body and beautifully curled his shot right into the top corner, to wrap up three points for Chelsea.
Wednesday’s win was far more about the performance than the three points. Even if it saw the Blues rise up to fifth, the fact that we saw a trademark Chelsea performance and a completely rejuvenated side was enough to celebrate for the Stamford Bridge faithful. Sarri’s side looked fantastic, and as soon as they broke the deadlock they took firm control of the match.
Everyone needed to see that kind of performance. The players, the manager and the fans really needed that, and it should certainly help us all regain confidence for the final stretch of the season. There was little to complain about from the game, with Sarri giving gametime to his youth players and Chelsea showing the fluid, attacking football that helped them start the season in style.
Brighton eventually submitted but not without a strong fight in the first half. Although they sit at the other end of the table in a relegation battle, the Seagulls have shown their quality in reaching the FA Cup semi-finals, where they will play Manchester City on Saturday. However once the hosts got ahold of the game there was nothing the south Coast side could do, as they fell to defeat in the capital.
There were many outstanding performers for Chelsea. Loftus-Cheek was excellent in midfield and got a goal and an assist in a superb display, while Hudson-Odoi showed his ability to start a league game in an energetic game. David Luiz and Andreas Christensen were solid at the back despite the occasional blip, while Giroud’s hold up play was once again crucial.
However, my Man of the Match was none other than Eden Hazard. However cliched it may seem, the Belgian was at his best on Wednesday, scoring a delightful goal and causing havoc for the Brighton defence. His movement on the ball and his confident dribbling was pivotal in Chelsea’s win, as he produced another superb performance.
Up next for the Blues is a London derby at the Bridge, as they host West Ham on 8 April. They then return to Europa League action in the quarter-final first leg, when they travel to the Czech Republic to face Slavia Prague on 11 April.
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