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Brighton 1-1 Chelsea, Premier League: Tactical Analysis

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Breaking down Chelsea disappointing draw on New Year’s Day

First half

Brighton made an aggressive start to the game, starting with their diamond formation in midfield. They had numbers through to push up and press from the centre, with the wide central midfielders shifting out to the sides to close down Chelsea’s fullbacks.

However, the difficulties of controlling the opposition fullbacks over and underlapping with a midfield diamond began to provide Brighton problems. James continuously found himself moving into dangerous positions to receive the ball to either cross or have a shot on goal, and one situation that won the corner from which Chelsea would go on to score.

Following the injury of Burn, Brighton switched to a flat, defensive 4-4-2 — Mooy moving over to the right. They would now hold their position in midfield, allowing Chelsea’s central defenders to have more time on the ball, and instead look to press and recover forward passes, and waiting for moments to push up and apply high pressure.

Chelsea broke through Brighton’s lines on a few occasions and reached promising positions in the final third, but were often very wasteful with final passes and chances inside the box.

Second half

Brighton began the second half with the flat 4-4-2, but switched their characteristics by bringing on Connolly for Bissouma at the half — more attackers on the pitch. Most of the second half was played in midfield, playing into or through pressure, without either team reaching or creating many chances in the final third.

Without any change in the scoreline, Brighton reached the final stages of the half still in the game, and began to create Chelsea problems with their movements from a narrow frontline. With the wide player inside (and dropping for the ball), Brighton’s front two could make runs wide into the channels and get behind Chelsea’s fullbacks (drawing central defenders wide and out of the box), as well as the wide players receive the ball inside in the final third to draw Chelsea’s fullbacks inside before finding their overlapping fullbacks for crosses into the box.

Brighton were able to ultimately equalise through a special goal by Jahanbakhsh, while Kepa was required to make crucial saves either side of the goal to prevent Brighton from turning the game late on into a win.

Brighton vs. Chelsea xG timing chart
Understat

Conclusion

Chelsea made a good start to the game and created problems for Brighton’s diamond via the advanced fullbacks in the final third, taking an early lead. Brighton dropped back and defended from midfield with their switch to a flat 4-4-2, which helped them defensively, but Chelsea still made mistakes with the ball to prevent them from extending their lead. Chelsea continued to play with possession without creating many chances to extend their lead in the second half, and with Brighton still in the game during the final stages of the game, their attack began to cause Chelsea problems and would go onto find an equaliser, as well as having chances to win the game late on.