An unreal bicycle kick equaliser stopped Chelsea from securing three points in the new year at The Amex Stadium with Jahanbakhnsh leaving the crowd in disbelief over his goal. The home side gave the Blues a match, increasing their tempo and energy in the second half. Chelsea were clumsy and sloppy in the second half giving Brighton several chances on the counter.
The away side were dominant for the majority of the first half beating Brighton on tackles and being quicker to respond on the ball. Chelsea were easily switching the side of play finding overloads on the right hand side with Reece James and Willian causing problems. The boys in blue still looked shaky in set pieces as they did all season, but dealt with any proposing danger in their box. Neal Maupay was constantly making runs behind the defence but Rüdiger made sure he stayed tight not allowing him time on the ball. From a header, Rüdiger managed to get the ball in the box that found Tammy, who hit the ball on target and then got saved but only to find Azpilicueta for a tap in. The goal was swiftly reviewed by VAR but was clearly onside when the goal transpired.
Chelsea, after the goal, continued their chase for the second, pressing the Brighton players and winning several balls for deadly counters. Once again though, Chelsea let themselves down with their final ball. James got into an aerial battle with Daniel Burn, who’s 6’6 frame managed to be a detriment for the tall defender. The ball was low allowing Reece to get their first but his shoulder came flying into his head that supposedly assume that a head injury had occurred. After some time on the ground, Daniel burn came off holding his left arm signifying an arm injury in the 22nd minute and Bernardo, the Brazilian fullback, came on to replace him.
In the latter part of the first half, Brighton stepped up their efforts to be more direct and quicker on the ball switching to a 4-2-3-1 after starting off in a diamond midfield. This helped Brighton be more open on the wide areas asking questions on Chelsea’s defence. This continued in the beginning portions of the second half with both teams going at each other allowing the game to be more open only to fail themselves any real danger in the final third.
Pulisic came off for Callum-Hudson Odoi in the 65th minute as a precaution after Pulisic missed the weekend with a slight hamstring problem. Shortly after, Mount came off for Mateo Kovačić to change to a 4-3-3 formation to cover more ground defensively. The crowd were witnessing a faster and more hungrier Brighton than in the initial moments of the game and were constantly cheering on the home side. Chelsea themselves produced a couple chances but often enough could not get the shot on target The substitute Alireza Jahanbakhsh and Aaron Connolly impacted the game with Conolly pressuring the Chelsea defence with his pace and Jahanbakhsh getting into dangerous areas.
In the final moments of the game both sides looked for the next goal exchanging blows on the counter but Brighton determination got them the equaliser. From a corner, Brighton got their goal with Jahanbakhsh scoring an unbelievable bicycle kick that left the crowd speechless and roaring at the same time rewarding their efforts to get back in the game. Frank Lampard looked frustrated on the touchline, watching their side drop two points in the process. A turn from Tammy that left several Brighton defenders found space to dribble the ball following a pass to Hudson-Odoi who quickly cut to is stronger right foot and shoot the ball with his instep but the shot went shortly above the target. On the other side, Kepa might have saved Chelsea after a Brighton counter found Neal Maupay in the box who shot on target but was saved by Arrizabalaga foot saving the blues from total destruction.
The game finished 1-1 and Chelsea leave The Amex Stadium with a point and will go home to reflect on their missed chance to secure three points. Petr Čech was in attendance and might’ve seen the flaws at hand that could be addressed in this January transfer window. This young side continues to struggle putting games away displaying their inexperience and the room to grow as a team. Their next fixture is in the FA Cup on Sunday where they host Nottingham Forest and will debut in a special kit celebrating 50 years since their first cup triumph in 1970. Stamford Bridge will be drowned in uncertainty as Chelsea continue to be inconsistent and poor at home but will hope to kick off the new year with a win to appease the home crowd.