The roads were icy en route to the Amex Stadium as winter took grip – and Chelsea slipped up again.

As temperatures plummeted here on the south coast, the European champions failed to fire-up their stagnating title challenge as they froze on the Premier League stage once more.

Brighton were well worth their point. Indeed, Chelsea should have been grateful with the draw, it could have been far worse.

Make no mistake, Chelsea are in a rut. Just one win from seven league matches makes sorry reading. On this evidence Thomas Tuchel has his work cut out in trying to reinvigorate his flagging side. Some may point to their forthcoming Carabao Cup final and the fact they are still in the Champions League and FA Cup.

But that’s just brushing their issues under the carpet. They are 12 points adrift of leaders Manchester City after this; their title hopes look dead in the water. They’ll find themselves in a race for the top four – not the title – if they aren’t careful.

“We are physically and mentally tired you can see it in our performance,” complained Tuchel, whose side have played six matches compared to Brighton’s four in January.

Tuchel, who was visibly tetchy after the game, revealed he will give his players two days off before starting preparations for Sunday’s game versus Tottenham.

And in fairness, it’s hard not to feel sympathy for Tuchel. His team’s schedule has been gruelling – but that’s the price of success. His grievances about fatigue will fall on deaf ears with those in the corridors of power at Chelsea.

Their start here in Brighton was certainly weary, Jakub Moder fired narrowly wide in the third minute when the Poland star should really have at least hit the target.

While Chelsea were clearly struggling, their opponents were excellent during the opening exchanges: easy on the eye and bursting with invention.

Marcos Alonso’s risky and needless lunge on Tariq Lamptey in the box provided Chelsea with another scare in the 12th minute.

This was all making for an uncomfortable watch for Tuchel following his side’s humbling at the hands of Manchester City on Saturday. Of course, there’s no humiliation in losing 1-0 at the Etihad – but the manner of the loss would have troubled Chelsea’s German head coach.

His team’s display here at the Amex will have done little to ease those concerns. Yet, somehow the Blues found themselves ahead at half-time.

Everyone in the Amex – Hakim Ziyech included – expected Robert Sanchez to make what should have been a routine save when the Chelsea forward unleashed a shot from 20 yards.

Indeed, the look on Ziyech’s face said it all as the ball inexplicably escaped Sanchez’s outstretched arm before nestling inside the bottom right corner.

Brighton maybe didn’t deserve to be ahead – but they certainly deserve to be behind. You’d imagine, however, that the Brighton boss is used to this by now. There’s no denying the Seagulls are among the most attractive teams to watch in England.

A team with a clear philosophy, a team who take risks, a team that entertains. But they are also a team that have for so long been toothless where and when it matters the most. Until Potter solves the goalscoring conundrum, Brighton will always be looking worryingly over their shoulders.

Yet, with all that said, Chelsea were clearly vulnerable here. A heated conversation between Ziyech and Romelu Lukaku as they walked off for half-time certainly wasn’t indicative of a happy camp, despite Tuchel’s attempts to play down the confrontation after the game.

They were ahead, but this wasn’t a performance that will convince the club’s supporters that they will overcome their winter blip any time soon.

So when Brighton scored the equaliser they so richly deserved on the hour mark, Tuchel could have had no complaints. Inevitably, given Brighton’s difficulty in carving out opportunities from open play, their leveller arrived from a set-piece.

Having just kept out Alexis Mac Allister’s deflected effort; Kepa Arrizabalaga had no chance when the Argentinian’s resultant corner was headed home by Adam Webster. Webster’s connection was true – it flew past Kepa like a bullet.

The marking certainly left much to be desired; whoever was supposed to be picking up the Brighton centre-back had woefully failed to do so.

Not that Potter cared a jot. By now, Chelsea were on the ropes. Webster, who is surely on Gareth Southgate’s radar, was driving his team forward from defence, while Lamptey was causing Alonso all worlds of problems until his substitution in the 76th minute.

Lukaku, who had been largely anonymous apart from a 72nd-minute chance that was well saved by Sanchez, was hooked off in place of Kai Havertz in the 80th minute – an interesting sub-plot, perhaps, given his recent troubles.

But Brighton couldn’t quite find the killer blow.

“We’re really pleased and proud of the performance definitely. We gave Chelsea a good game. Our performance was full of everything,” said Potter. Chelsea’s performance on the other hand….


Courtesy: Daily Mail UK

Facebook Comments