Chelsea lose points
Striker Danny Welbeck scored a last-minute equaliser as Brighton & Hove Albion held Chelsea to a 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday.
Striker Romelu Lukaku opened the scoring on 28 minutes with a powerful header from a corner, but Welbeck came off the bench late on and scored to rescue a point for manager Graham Potter’s side.
Spoils shared tonight. ⏱#CheBha pic.twitter.com/qLd9bEBave
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) December 29, 2021
The draw pushed Chelsea into second place in the Premier League table on 42 points, one more than Liverpool who have a game in hand and eight points behind leaders Manchester City. Chelsea are due to play both Liverpool and Man City in the first two weeks of January.
Brighton sit in 10th place on 24 points.
Lukaku, who scored for the first time in September in a 3-1 win over Aston Villa on Sunday, nodded his side into the initial lead when the 28-year-old connected with midfielder Mason Mount’s corner at the near post, powerfully sending it past opposing goalkeeper Robert Sanchez. The Video Assistant Referee (VAR) conducted a lengthy review into whether Lukaku’s trailing arm fouled Brighton striker Neal Maupay as he moved toward the ball, but the goal was awarded.
The home side claimed for a penalty shortly after half-time when winger Christian Pulisic fumbled over the ball but not before being taken down in the box, although the claims were dismissed after a VAR review.
Chelsea’s Callum Hudson-Odoi squandered a glorious chance to double his side’s lead on 55 minutes when he raced away on the counter-attack with only one defender and the goalkeeper to beat, but the 21-year-old failed to find Mount with his final pass.
Amazing support on the road again and from around the world. ?️? Thank you all! ? pic.twitter.com/d6skbInQhY
— Brighton & Hove Albion (@OfficialBHAFC) December 30, 2021
Brighton nearly made Chelsea pay moments later when midfielder Alexis Mac Allister collected a through ball and took the ball wide around goalkeeper Edouard Mendy, but Maupay could not strike home when set up for the finish.
Brighton continued to apply pressure, and they were rewarded in stoppage time as Welbeck headed home from a corner. The goal was the first the club had ever scored at Stamford Bridge.
Compounding Chelsea’s problems, Chelsea wing-back Reece James hobbled off in the first half and fellow defender Andreas Christensen also needed treatment and was replaced by Chalobah at the break.
“We have simply way too many players who we don’t know what we can demand,” Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel told reporters after seeing his side held to a 1-1 draw for the fourth time in five home league games.
“We have seven COVID cases, we have four or five players out for six weeks,” the German said when asked about Chelsea’ chances of winning the league. “Why should we compete in a title race?”
James suffered a hamstring injury while Christensen went off with a back problem, he said.
Potter praised his Brighton players for pushing right to the end to get the point.
“I thought it was a fantastic performance from the players really full of courage full of quality,” Potter said.
Manchester City keep winning
Manchester City will head into the new year with an eight-point lead at the top of the Premier League after Phil Foden’s first-half goal earned them a 1-0 win at Brentford on Wednesday.
Foden stroked home in the 16th minute from Kevin De Bruyne’s pass and it proved sufficient to seal a 10th successive league win for Pep Guardiola’s relentless champions.
With Liverpool losing at Leicester City on Tuesday and Chelsea held by Brighton & Hove Albion on Wednesday, City have seized complete control of the title race.
Ending 2021 with another three points in the bag! ?#ManCity pic.twitter.com/hk23RpNRBI
— Manchester City (@ManCity) December 29, 2021
They were far from their slick best in west London, however, with Brentford always looking capable of salvaging something.
De Bruyne did hit the post after the break and both Foden and Aymeric Laporte had goals disallowed as City sought to give themselves a cushion.
But City held on with few real scares to reach 50 points from 20 games, with Chelsea on 42 from 20 and Liverpool on 41 having played one game less than the top two.
It is the fourth time Guardiola has enjoyed a 10-game winning sequence since becoming City manager.
“Round Christmas you have to keep your foot on the gas and keep focused. This team is doing that,” Foden said.
Foden was left out of City’s starting line-up in their two previous league games against Newcastle United and Leicester City after incurring the wrath of Guardiola for having a night on the town with teammate Jack Grealish.
Most Premier League points in 2021:
110 – Manchester City
83 – Chelsea
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) December 29, 2021
Restored to the starting eleven at Brentford, the 21-year-old made amends with a finish of real quality.
Seconds after Joao Cancelo had cleared off the line to deny Brentford the lead, City went ahead in clinical fashion.
A flowing move ended with the ball played back to De Bruyne whose instinctive first-time pass picked out for the fractionally onside Foden. He feathered a volley past Alvaro Fernandez for his fifth league goal of the season.
Brentford had started the game in lively fashion with City keeper Ederson reacting well to keep out a cross that deflected off of Ruben Dias.
City dominated early in the second half with Foden heading wide from another De Bruyne delivery before having a goal disallowed for offside.
Brentford rode their luck as De Bruyne smacked a left-footer against the base of the post before Laporte’s majestic header was ruled out for a marginal VAR offside decision.
Despite lacking the flair that had seen them score 17 goals in their last three games, City showed they can also grind out wins when required and are beginning to look unstoppable.
Brentford remain in 14th place — nine points above the relegation zone.