BRIGHTON 3:1 CHELSEA
This was always going to be a tough game for a number of reasons; we came into it off the back of a long pre-season tour in America and we're still feeding players back into the first team. Despite that though, this was a poor performance which highlighted some real weaknesses heading into the new season.
The key issue to start with was the formation. RDM has been epitomised tactically by his 4-2-3-1 formation but today he decided to move to a 4-3-3, perhaps because we are still missing Mata and Oscar, the men who may play in the hole, and he wanted to have a look at how this formation could work. Needless to say it failed..
At kick off, we were playing 4-3-3 with Hazard on the left wing and Ramires on the right. Clearly neither of these two are wingers, and that became painfully obvious with every passing minute. Hazard constantly wanted to come inside and drifted all over the place, while Ramires looked dangerous when there was lots of space but as soon as a defender was stood in front of him, he completely ran out of ideas.
So we started to look through the middle, where Meireles and Lampard were coming forward to try and support Torres who was looking increasingly frustrated with the lack of supply. Brighton did well to stifle our play down the middle and without Mata there, we had no link to move into the box and all of our build up broke down.
We managed to get that goal on the counter attack, and it was vintage Frank Lampard. Ramires breaking into the space as he loves to do, plays the ball square, lovely dummy by Torres and Lampard is on hand to finish.
From there, most of us probably expected Chelsea to be able to take control of the game, but with men committed forward trying to break Brighton down, we were found out. Ramires was disposessed in the middle of the park and Brighton sent Buckley running down the left. Branna was struggling to cover and when the ball was played into an unmarked Vicente he tucked home coolly.
We clearly didn't learn our lesson and were a goal down before the break when Meireles gave away possession, Brighton stole forward and despite good work from Cech, Barnes was on hand to make it 2-1. Two goals from counter-attacks and we were found out by a mid-table Championship side.
Sadly, very little changed after the break. We continued to play this system, and were frustrated time and time again. Torres showed glimpses of his quality in opening up space, but with no outlets on the wings, we were forced inside only to be frustrated.
We have to hope that this was simply an experiment of tactics and that Di Matteo realises very quickly that 4-3-3 is not the way forward with the personnel we have. Having said that, I certainly feel the club need to press on and acquire a new right sided winger as I feel we have plenty of cover for the left, and relatively few options on the other side.
1. Petr Cech 6
Maybe could have done better for the first goal, but was left exposed on both occasions in the first half. Made a great parry for the second goal only to be beaten by the follow-up
2. Branislav Ivanovic 6
Did okay going forward, and linked well with Ramires. Only player delivering decent flat balls into the box. That said, was often caught high up the park and was out of position for both first half goals
3. Ashley Cole 6
Did very little wrong but will be frustrated by Hazard's play on the left wing, this partnership needs a lot of work if Hazard continues to stay left wing.
5. Michael Essien 6
Decent game from Essien, broke up play and got the two ahead of him moving.
7. Ramires 5
Poor game for Ramires. The only time I like to see Ramires on the right side of midfield is against a team that has quality wingers that need doubling up on. As an attacking option, he is very limited.
8. Frank Lampard 7*
Best player for Chelsea, bagged the goal and constantly looked to mix things up in the attack.
9. Fernando Torres 6
Not a great game, but showed glimpses of his class. Looked frustrated by the poor supply from midfield, and rightly so. This needs to improve if Torres is to push on this season.
16. Raul Meireles 5
Didn't do much wrong, but did very little right either. His misplaced pass led to Brighton's second goal.
17. Eden Hazard 5
Clearly a quality player in possession but has a lot to learn about positional play. Constantly drifted out of position and frustrated Ashley Cole on the left. Created little and seldom in the right place.
24. Gary Cahill 6
Had an okay game, got caught flagging for the third goal, as did the rest of the team. Let down by the midfield for first two goals.
26. John Terry 6
Played okay, but gave Vicente far too much space for their first goal as he was the only man forward for Brighton.
22. Ross Turnbull 6
Not at fault for the goal as he was left exposed. Made a good save from a Barnes header.
12. John Obi Mikel 6
Played okay, broke up Brighton's midfield in the second half and helped push Chelsea higher up the park.
4. David Luiz 5
Had a poor game, forayed into the opposition half but often lost the ball. Don't know what he was playing at for the third goal but clearly at fault.
18. Romelu Lukaku n/a
On the pitch for very little time, but looked fairly sharp. May have gotten a few more chances if it weren't for some cynical challenges by Brighton.
I don't want to read too much into this performance because pre-season is about match fitness and although they scored 3 goals, they were their only real chances in the game. That said, we failed to create very much and despite dominating terriotorially, Brighton played much more incisive football and we looked worryingly short of ideas. Much work for RDM before the Charity Shield and we will certainly welcome Mata back into the fold. We should discard 4-3-3 as a tactical option and focus on 4-2-3-1. A wide man on the right should be seen as a top priority in the transfer market.
Would love to hear feedback on people's thoughts of the game!