Monday, February 26, 2024 | Sha'ban 15, 1445 H
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String of defeats for struggling Chelsea

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London: Having spent £600,000 million in signing new players, more than any other club, Chelsea are gradually reaching a crisis. They went down 2-1 at home to Brighton, following defeats against Wolverhampton Wanderers and Real Madrid in the Champions League, all within a week. Their last five matches have resulted in four defeats and a goalless draw. Their goal against Brighton was the first in five matches. For an elite club the situation is unacceptable.

Chelsea’s interim manager, former player Frank Lampard, in his first home match in his new position, said: “It wasn’t good enough. All the basic parts of football – to fight, to run – we were short on. I’m disappointed on every level. The better team won and they could have won by more. It’s a really good Brighton team so we must give them credit.

“I didn’t like what I saw today. We have to address that very quickly. There should be a feeling when you play for Chelsea of pride involved. It’s not for me to talk about where the lack of intensity and aggression is coming from. But it’s for me to try to get to the bottom and change it.”

He added: “The things that are a must in a performance for Chelsea are sprints, recovery runs, getting up to people and recovering. And then when you get the ball to stick to ideas you want to stick to. We came away from that, the capacity wasn’t there. We certainly have work to do.”

While there was a deflating, dispiriting performance from Chelsea, Brighton were organised, composed and committed and good to watch. However, it was Chelsea who went into the lead, in the 13th minute, against the run of play with an element of luck. Mykhailo Mudryk picked up the ball and progressed into Brighton’s half before passing to Conor Gallagher whose shot took a big deflection off Lewis Dunk and looped into the net.

Two excellent saves by Kepa Arrizabalaga denied Brighton. First in the 25th minute from a shot by Kaoru Mitoma and then in 33rd minute he tipped over a header from Evan Ferguson who then went off injured. But three minutes before the break, Brighton equalised with substitute Danny Welbeck heading in a cross to the far post from Pascal Gross.

Chelsea used their substitutes but it made little difference, instead in the 59th, came Brighton’s marvellous winning goal. Solly March intercepted a pass by Reece James and passed to substitute Julio Enciso who fired in a 25yard shot into the top corner.

Brighton manager, Roberto De Zerbi said: “I’m very lucky to be a coach at Brighton. I’m trying to bring in my ideas. We like playing in this style. To play in that way at Stamford Bridge, you have to have a clear idea and also a big personality.”

He added: “It’s an amazing day for us – the result, the performance. This game gives more energy, more confidence, more enthusiasm to finish the season in the best way.”

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