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Chelsea 2-0 Brighton and Hove Albion, Premier League: Tactical Analysis

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Breaking down Chelsea’s comprehensive victory over Brighton

First half

Chelsea made an aggressive start to the game, finding long ground passes between lines where the wingers, playing narrow, could combine and create opportunities. Willian and Pedro both had chances to shoot from the edge of the box, while Pedro would also have opportunities by making runs behind Brighton’s backline.

As the half wore on, Chelsea continued to hold on to the ball against Brighton’s high pressing, often going back through Kepa to find Alonso on the far side to try to break pressure and push Brighton back to defend from midfield. From here, Bissouma would close down Jorginho and drop back to protect the space ahead of Brighton’s deeper central midfielders, and make it difficult for Chelsea to continue to find passes through the middle.

Brighton conceded a few chances when they allowed long passes over the top of their defence to be played into the box (Pedro, Barkley, Alonso opportunities), but otherwise were able to block most shots Chelsea attempted on goal, or at least make the chances much more difficult for the player on the ball.

Brighton’s attempts to play from the back didn’t provide them with many opportunities to move forward or to break Chelsea’s pressure. When forced to play long under pressure the best they could hope to get were throw-ins, while on the occasions where they passed or carried the ball through Chelsea’s pressing, they failed to create a chance in the final third.

Second half

Bong replacing Bissouma allowed Brighton to have more possibility to create, with Bong moving to the left of midfield and Groß to play off Maupay. However, Chelsea’s high pressing and recovering of the ball high saw Mount win an early penalty and allow Chelsea to take the early lead in the second half.

With more attacking characteristics in the middle, Brighton suffered defensively with less control of the middle where Chelsea’s central defenders and Jorginho could move past Brighton’s front two with the ball and find passes between lines with much more consistency. Chelsea found the advanced midfielders and wingers moving inside for the ball a number of times to create opportunities to carry the ball at Brighton’s backline, but didn’t take advantage of them.

The final changes in the match were Brighton bringing on Connolly for Mooy and switching to 3-5-2. With the back three they could move to the sides and look to play forward with the ball, but they were also much more vulnerable to counters upon losing the ball. Hudson-Odoi and Kovacic both took advantage of these spaces after going on for Chelsea, where Kovacic found passes behind Brighton’s defence for Abraham, while Hudson-Odoi carried the ball forward (drawing Brighton’s back three towards him) before looking to find Willian attacking the open space on the outside of Burn in the right channel (Bong late at getting back), which would see Chelsea score their second goal of the game (through a deflection) to take the game away from Brighton.

Conclusion

Chelsea dominated the game with a high amount of possession and a great number of chances, but only converted a couple of them into goals. Chelsea broke Brighton’s attempts to press and pushed them back to defend from midfield consistently, while passes over the top of Brighton’s backline, combinations between lines, and recovering the ball high from Brighton’s short buildup created chances. Brighton made changes in the second half to have more of an attacking threat, but sacrificed the third man in midfield to control spaces between lines, and also fell behind early in the half. The other changes made during the second half saw Brighton switch to a 3-5-2, which allowed Hudson-Odoi space on the wings to collect the ball and run at the backline, before looking for switches to Willian on the far side (attacking space between wide central defender and wing-back) to score Chelsea’s second and kill the game.