Jorignho and Willian scored second-half goals as Chelsea won its first home match of the Premier League season by beating Brighton and Hove Albion 2-0 — a victory that pushed the Blues back into England’s top six and gave them their first clean sheet of the campaign.
The day wasn’t as good for Christian Pulisic, however, as the American didn’t play for the third straight Prem game after starting and picking up an assist midweek in a 7-1 League Cup win over fourth-tier Grimsby Town.
Here are three quick thoughts on the match:
A frustrating first half for Chelsea ...
For the life of them, Frank Lampard’s young side couldn’t find the target during the opening period despite a slew of quality scoring opportunities. Tammy Abraham hit the post a quarter-hour in and Chelsea went on to squander three more chances toward the end of the half.
Ross Barkley should’ve scored in the 36th minute but directed Marcos Alonso’s perfect cross straight at Brighton keeper Mathew Ryan. Moments later, Alonso fired his own effort wide off a pass from fellow fullback Cesar Azpilicueta. And Pedro then missed another chance in stoppage time before the two teams retreated to their respective dressing rooms with the contest still scoreless.
Fortunately for Lampard, his side was awarded a penalty just five minutes after the break that Jorignho converted, changing the complexion of the tilt for good:
... But in the second, it was all Blues
Outside of deflected shot by Seagulls midfielder Steven Alzate, and another that was headed wide by teammate Dan Burn off the ensuing corner kick, it was all Chelsea after Jorginho broke the deadlock.
The game opened up, and Lampard wisely went to his bench just after the hour mark — although not for Pulisic. First he replaced Barkley with Mateo Kovacic, then he swapped Pedro for Callum Hudson-Odoi. The introduction of the speedy Hudson-Odoi favored the Blues, and it didn’t take the 18-year-old too long before picking out the veteran Willian, who gave Chelsea some breathing room when his shot pinged off Burn and past Ryan:
Another DNP for Christian Pulisic
The situation for the 21-year-old U.S. men’s national team star at Stamford Bridge has gone from bad to worse. Unlike Barkley, Pulisic didn’t do enough midweek to convince Lampard to keep him in the lineup. His other main competition for playing time took advantage of their chances on Saturday.
Willian scored his first goal in more than 20 Prem appearances. Hudson-Odoi, in his first league action of the season after returning from injury, performed well off the bench beyond his assist. Mason Mount put in another strong performance. Meantime, Pulisic continues to slide down the depth chart:
Another Chelsea game as an unused sub for Christian Pulisic. His third straight in the Premier League, and he's not got off the bench in 4 of his last 5 games.— Joe Prince-Wright (@JPW_NBCSports) September 28, 2019
🇺🇸 The #USMNT winger has Willian, Pedro, Mason Mount and Callum Hudson-Odoi ahead of him in the pecking order at #CFC.
It’s a long season, to be sure. Chelsea’s focus now turns to Wednesday’s UEFA Champions League tilt in France against Lille before traveling to Southhampton next weekend. Only time will tell if the American gets on the field.
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