Chelsea needed a response today against Brighton after last weekend’s capitulation at Newcastle, and then we needed a response within the response after shooting ourselves in the foot yet again after taking an early two-goal lead.
Mauricio Pochettino asked for the first, and certainly did not ask for the second, but got both. And that in the end made us all very happy as Chelsea hung on to yet another dramatic, goal-filled result, collecting all three points against a team we had trouble beating for the past three years.
Obviously, certain issues remain, especially with focus and discipline. After scoring twice off similar corner routines, we never established control and played with fire with careless, risky passing at the back and reckless, risky tackling elsewhere. Chelsea came in leading the league in yellow cards (44 in 13) and added five more to that, including two to Conor Gallagher, who easily could’ve had three before getting his marching orders just before the half. Moisés Caicedo was also a lucky boy, a beneficiary of some more poor officiating that was thankfully corrected in key situations by VAR (namely on the Mudryk penalty non-call and the Colwill “penalty” call at the end).
But the nice thing is that we can worry about those issues with three points in the bag, which is a much better way to worry about them than without three points in the bag. Back in the top half of the table, baby!
Still, after last week and the red card today, we’ve come through a proverbial fire, rose to the challenge, and emerged triumphant. Somehow. I don’t imagine I was alone expecting us to completely blow this game after the Gallagher red. So there’s plenty to be happy about as well.
“After Newcastle when we didn’t show our true selves, we wanted player well, we wanted to show that we care and win the game. The team was really good, I feel very proud [...] of the players and the character they showed. I told them at half-time I was happy because it was a great opportunity for us, a massive challenge. We needed to show that we are a team. That is something that for sure will improve us.
“It’s not only about building the way you want to play and the philosophy on the pitch. Before that you need to feel that you belong to the team, you need to belong to the club, you need to settle yourself, you need to grow, you need to get experience. There are many things before you can talk about going and playing out from back, or playing with three or four offensive players, or three or four at the back. That is coming after.
“Most importantly, I think we needed this type of game that challenged us and the opportunity to understand that we need to be a team and behave like a team out there. I am pleased for that and of course we are going to improve because we have very talented players.”
-Mauricio Pochettino; source: Chelsea FC
As the great poet Dave (i.e. not me) might say, in the fire we’ve been tried, affected the way we’re wired inside. We can hide or we can glide — and today there was certainly no hiding today.