Graham Potter’s Brighton & Hove Albion had a fantastic opportunity to go top of the Premier League (!) on Monday night, but they ran into a little problem called Conor Gallagher — or a big problem, to be more accurate — in their derby (?) against Crystal Palace. And while they did manage to avoid defeat with a last-gasp equalizer, for much of the 90 minutes at Selhurst Park, they looked on course to suffer one thanks in large part to the skill, quality, and industry of the Chelsea loan-star.
Perhaps nothing illustrated Gallagher’s threat better than Potter instructing Dan Burn to man-mark the 21-year-old midfielder, who still managed to create a goal in one of the rare moments the big defender let him out of his sights. The pronoun confusion in that sentence mirrored Brighton’s panicked defending as first Marc Cucurella pushed Gallagher from behind then Leandro Trossard body-checked him in the penalty area to earn Palace a spot kick, just before half-time. Wilfried Zaha duly converted.
The draw still put Brighton level with four other teams, including Chelsea on 13 points after six games, which is pretty impressive, even if their schedule has been relatively easy. Palace meanwhile remain mired in 15th, with just one win from six, though certainly not for a lack of trying from Gallagher, who’s been arguably their best player so far.
Conor Gallagher vs Brighton (H) pic.twitter.com/bBUKXoh9Do— Chelsea Loan Army (@CFCLoanArmy_) September 27, 2021
Former Chelsea prospects Marc Guéhi (Palace) and Tariq Lamptey (Brighton) were also in the matchday squads, though only the former was involved (playing the full 90 as usual), with Lamptey just finishing his recovery from a hamstring injury that’s kept him out since, and this is not a typo, December. He’s suffered several setbacks and needed surgery in March as well.