Chelsea have added plenty of attacking talent to our squad this season but it was two defenders plus our midfield general who scored the goals that ensure we begin the 2020/21 campaign by collecting three points.
Jorginho gave the Blues a first-half lead in a game in which there were spells when Brighton were on top and indeed the Seagulls equalised early in the second half. However an outstanding strike from Reece James restored the lead and Kurt Zouma scored almost exactly five years after his previous league strike for Chelsea to make the points safe.
Despite not making the scoresheet Timo Werner impressed on his Chelsea debut, winning the penalty which was converted by Jorginho and looking capable of penetrating the opposition backline on other occasions. It was a quieter start for Kai Havertz and Frank Lampard has been clear the new arrivals need time to settle and reach peak condition, but our new no.29 looked composed at times and showed great diligence to track a run and make an important challenge in the Chelsea penalty area close to the end of his game.
Brighton will be cursing a missed opportunity to make it 2-2 before the Zouma goal but after we extended the lead to 3-1 the Sussex side were comfortably kept at bay. Their wait for their first ever league victory against Chelsea goes on.
There is always much interest in how the first line-up of the season shapes up but it was uncertain when the team sheets were revealed exactly who would play where. There were options with the 11 chosen but once the whistle blew it was clear it would be Ruben Loftus-Cheek operating centrally behind Werner, with Havertz on the right and Mason Mount on the left.
A flat back-four had Reece James and Marcos Alonso as its full-backs so Cesar Azpilicueta was on the bench which meant Jorginho wore the armband alongside N’Golo Kante in midfield.
Christian Pulisic was reported by Lampard before kick-off as injured so he joined new arrivals Ben Chilwell, Hakim Ziyech and Thiago Silva as unavailable, as was Mateo Kovacic. The Croatian was suspended due to his FA Cup final red card.
Jorginho spot on as a Seagull gifts the Blues
This last match of the opening round of Premier League fixtures took time to settle into a pattern.
Chelsea dealt with Brighton’s first corner despite it being driven dangerously to the far post but there was little in the way of attacking threat at either end in the first 20 minutes.
Then, midway through the first period, the home side made a crucial and unforced error. Steven Alzate accepted a short pass out of the box by his goalkeeper Mat Ryan but then inexplicably turned it square to where Jorginho could eagerly gather up the ball well before any Brighton player had a chance.
Werner was the obvious target for Jorginho’s pass forward and Turbo Timo lived up to his nickname when Ryan had to stick out a leg to foul the German as he nipped past the keeper towards goal. There was a less exaggerated skip-step than usual from Jorginho as he took the penalty but he found the left bottom corner unerringly. The first Chelsea goal of the season was in the bag.
Brighton had generally been matching Chelsea up to that point and they responded well to going behind. Andreas Christensen blocked one shot and the Blues were thankful Neal Maupay could not direct his header on target when he met a fine cross from former Chelsea player Tariq Lamptey.
Kepa came out but could not reach a Brighton corner but then saved a powerful drive by Alzate, and Christensen again stood firm when Maupay threatened to find a way through after the Blues had lost the ball in midfield.
We had been under moderate pressure but five minutes before half-time it was shaping up for Chelsea to test Ryan in the Brighton goal. Werner’s pace made an angle for Loftus-Cheek as we turned a counter-attack into two vs two, but the young midfielder could not find the right pass and Brighton cleared.
In added time at the end of the first half Werner was able get in a shot from a chance of his own making and from a difficult angle forced Ryan into a near-post save.
The home side lost their signing from Liverpool Adam Lallana to injury just before half-time.
James and Zouma hammer it home
Brighton were quickest out of the blocks at the start of the second half, especially Lamptey who steamed forward and smashed a shot at goal, blocked somewhat painfully by Zouma.
The Seagulls kept it up, aided by Chelsea losing the ball when trying to play out of our defensive third, and they had their rewards 10 minutes after the restart when Leandro Trossard fired in the equaliser, finding the far bottom corner with a low angled drive from outside the area.
If that was a good strike, it still paled in comparison with the one that restored the Chelsea lead only two minutes later. From a straighter position 25 yards out, James lined up the target and belted the ball high into the Brighton net.
The home side wasted a golden opportunity to level the scores again when their unmarked skipper Lewis Dunk headed wide.
Following that scare, Chelsea began to look the better side, capable of out-flanking our opponents. Reece James did just that to win a corner which he took. Zouma volleyed for goal and when Adam Webster stuck out a leg, he only succeeded in making sure it beat the goalie behind him. 3-1 to the Blues, and no way back for our hosts.
That’s the 2000 up
Tonight’s victory means the Blues become only the third side in Premier League history to reach a combined tally of 2000 points since this top-flight competition began in 1992. The other two are Manchester United and Arsenal. It is also, coincidentally, our 600th win since Roman Abramovich bought the club in 2003 and our 400th victory in the Premier League in the same period.
No opening day blues for the Blues
Last season’s first fixture did not go well for Frank Lampard’s side. Away from home that day as well, we slipped a 4-0 defeat against Man United, the scoreline not wholly reflective of the play. No such problems this time as we resumed our generally good record in these games. We have now only lost two of our past 22 opening fixtures in the Premier League. Those include 17 wins and three draws.
As the season gets underway there is a rare midweek without a match (there will not be many of those in the coming months) and then it is a big opening to our home fixtures for 2020/21. Liverpool visit Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Kepa; James, Christensen, Zouma, Alonso; Kante, Jorginho (c) (Azpilicueta 84); Havertz (Hudson-Odoi 79), Loftus-Cheek (Barkley 60), Mount; Werner.
Unused subs Caballero, Rudiger, Giroud, Abraham.
Scorers Jorginho 23 pen, James 56, Zouma 66
Brighton (3-5-2): Ryan; White (Gross 78), Dunk (c), Webster; Lamptey, Lallana (Connolly 45), Bissouma, Alzate (Jahanbakhsh 78), March; Maupay, Trossard.
Unused subs Steele, Stephens, Burn, Veltman.
Scorer Trossard 54
Booked Lamptey 81
Referee Craig Pawson