By Jerry Mancini.
Chelsea opened their season in the manner they were aiming for. Goals from Jorginho, Reece James and Kurt Zouma helped solidify a 3-1 win against Brighton & Hove Albion. Leandro Trossard scored in the second half to give a glimmer of hope for the home side, but that hope was short-lived.
There were new faces in the line up for Chelsea as Timo Werner and Kai Havertz each made their club debut.
It was far from a convincing win for Chelsea, though, as they struggled to control possession and showed poor team chemistry. It’s evident that it will take time for players such as Werner and Havertz to fit in as they have played very little with their new teammates and will need to develop that relationship amongst each other.
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) September 14, 2020
Brighton controlled the flow, pace and tempo for most of the game yet their inability to finish, and costly errors in defence, proved to be the difference.
Chelsea struggled to gain any rhythm, yet were able to capitalize on those opposition errors. Werner did a great job of reading the play and intercepted a poor pass from Steve Alzate. The German then made a darting run towards goal and was challenged by Brighton goalkeeper, Mat Ryan, which resulted in a penalty. Jorginho made no mistake from the spot.
Werner had a positive start to his Chelsea career, finishing the game with five shots, one key pass, and was fouled twice.
He also made some quick runs on the counter-attack, but players such as Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Ross Barkley held the ball too long, making it more difficult for Werner to score. It will take time to build that cohesiveness within the squad but nonetheless, an overall good start to the season.
“I was really pleased with Timo,” said Chelsea manager, Frank Lampard. “I know the qualities he is going to bring, we saw that with the speed to get the penalty.
“He is going to be a real threat. He is a very mobile centre-forward who can do so many things for us. He is one who has had some games, he has a bit of fitness, and you could see that.
“He took a knock when he won the penalty which we hope is a dead leg. I would like to think if it is that we have a bit of time to get him back [for the Liverpool game].”
A familiar face started the match for Brighton — Tariq Lamptey. The right-back was with Chelsea last season and made three appearances for the Blues, but was sold in January to Brighton. He put in an impressive performance and was the most influential player over the course of the match for the Seagulls.
The Englishman finished the match with one assist, two key passes, and four crosses. He had the second-most touches with 82, and when he had possession of the ball he was clinical, quick, and decisive.
He used his speed to beat defenders in 1v1 situations, played with great confidence, and was in and around the box on many occasions, which caused problems for Chelsea left-back Marcos Alonso, who struggled at times to keep pace with him.
Trossard tied the match in the second half from a pass outside the box from Lamptey. He got his shot off from distance, and it should have been a routine save from Kepa, but the goalkeeper mistimed the save and the ball went underneath his arm. These costly errors will leave Lampard with a decision to make between the posts.
Nonetheless, the goal provided the spark that Chelsea needed. Moments later, James restored Chelsea’s lead with an impressive long-range strike, and Chelsea began to control the pace of the game. Kurt Zouma secured the three points with a goal from a corner.
Chelsea now look ahead to their next match against Liverpool on Sunday. The Blues host the Reds in their season opener at Stamford Bridge on Sunday afternoon, and Chelsea will aim to give the defending English Premier League champions their first loss this season and provide a strong case that they will make a push for the title themselves.