Chelsea in ‘Super Leave’ rather than ‘Super League’ but produce drab 0-0 draw against Brighton
By Paul Lagan
Chelsea 0 v Brighton 0
All the action took place off the pitch as dreary Chelsea drew 0-0 to Brighton on the pitch to move into fourth place in the Premier League.
Thousands of furious Chelsea fans descended on Stamford Bridge to protest against Chelsea’s participation in the newly-created European Super League - along with five other English clubs and six from Spain and Italy.
The ferocity of the fans’ ire was such that the club took fright and wilted and decided to do a dramatic U-turn and file the papers to extricate themselves from the messy cartel.
The Blues could have gone into third with a win but are now just ahead of West Ham on goal difference with the two facing each other on Saturday.
The number of fans outside the ground held up the arrival of both team coaches and Chelsea goalkeeping legend Petr Cech left the Chelsea coach to speak to the fans pleading with them to let the vehicles through.
The fans did their bit, the players got to the ground, but the kick-off had to be delayed by 15 minutes.
Then came the sensational news that the club has decided to take part in the ‘Super Leave’ rather than the ‘Super League’.
Fellow co-conspirator Manchester City joined in the exit with Arsenal, Spurs, Liverpool and Manchester United expected to follow suit.
This meant the actual game mattered with next season’s Champions League qualification was at stake, and Chelsea failed miserably to put themselves in the best position possible.
The opening exchanges were insipid, with the Blues failing to raise the necessary tempo to break down the Seagulls’s deep defence.
Chelsea should have scored on 20 minutes when Kai Havertz lashed a left-footer on goal, just inside the Brighton penalty area but the ball arrowed straight to Sanchez who parried the ball away.
The Blues after. Slow start began to dominate possession and Kurt Zouma tried his luck a minute later but a Zouma boomer again when straight to the keeper.
Brighton’s best chance came three minutes before the break when Bissouma’s shot took a deflection and lopped just inches over Kepa’s crossbar.
There were no changes by either side at half-time.
With nothing much changing in the second-half, head coach Thomas Tuchel opted to bringing on some extra pace to the side - on came Timo Werner and Callum Hudson-Odoi, off came Marcos Alonso and Havertz on 67 minutes.
Six minutes later Tuchel decided they needed a bit of help and so Olivier Giroud came on for ineffectual Ziyech.
Instead it got worse for the home side.
Adam Lallana should have scored for the visitors on 78 minutes when Zouma was easily and needlessly dispossessed just outside his area, the ex-Liverpool midfielder pounced but inched his curling left-footer wide of Kepa’s right post.
Welbeck then smashed a rocket of a shot off Kepa’s left upright when he nicked the ball off Andreas Christensen, which was swiftly followed up,by and other fine save from a Lallana daisy-cutter.
Giroud’s first chance saw a clipped left-footer go wide of Sanchez’s post with 85 minutes gone.
Deep into added time Brighton defender Ben White, already booked, got a second yellow card for fouling Hudson-Odoi and was sent packing.
From the resultant free-kick, Giroud could not generate enough power to put a glancing header in the back of the net.
That was just bout it and the game died out with a point each.
Teams: Chelsea, Kepa, James, Christensen, Rudiger, Zouma, Alonso, Jorginho, Mount, Ziyech, Havertz, Pulisic
Subs: Kante, Werner, Mendy, Giroud, Hudson-Odoi, Chilwell, Gilmour, Azpilicueta, Emerson
Brighton, Sanchez, White, Dunk, Webster, White, Bissouma, Veltman, Grob, Mac Allister, Burn, Trossard, Welbeck
Subs: Maupassant, Lallana, Moder, Jahanbakhsh, Alzate, Izquierdo, Steele, Propper, Zeqiri