The Debrief: Weary Blues lack intensity and drop points in South Coast draw

Following a fifth Premier League draw in our past seven outings, we take a closer look at the match statistics and key talking points from our stalemate on the South Coast…

Chelsea were held 1-1 by Brighton at the Amex as Hakim Ziyech’s fine strike was cancelled out by Adam Webster’s emphatic header on the hour mark.

Both sides then pushed for a winner but neither could find the game’s significant third goal, resulting in a share of the spoils between the two teams for the second time in three weeks.

Lacking penetration

Despite the Blues enjoying more possession (57 per cent to Brighton’s 43 per cent) and taking more shots on goal (15 attempts with three on target vs 10 and two), the Seagulls were the side able to carve out the most promising opportunities in an evenly matched contest.

Their xG (expected goals) score of 0.81 edged our 0.64, highlighting the lack of cohesion for the visitors in the final third and our reliance on Kepa Arrizabalaga to make two important saves. Graham Potter may feel his team spurned the best of their chances though as they lacked the final pass to inflict a first-ever league defeat on the European champions.

Over half our attempts came from outside the 18-yard box and only a fifth of our total efforts were on target, including that crisp strike from Ziyech for the opener. It was his fourth Premier League goal for the club, all of which have come away from home.

Silva still shining

On a below-par night for many in yellow, Thiago Silva offered a reminder of his enduring class and experience. His reading of danger was exemplary once again, offering him the extra few seconds to manoeuvre into the right position to block a shot or head a cross away to safety.

The Brazilian had more touches (106), completed more passes (80), made more clearances (eight) and won more aerial duels (four) than any other player on the pitch.

Shape shifting

Thomas Tuchel has tweaked the team’s shape often in recent weeks, looking to deal with the absence of galloping wing-backs Ben Chilwell and Reece James in other ways. The system was nominally four at the back in possession at the Amex, with Jorginho dropping deeper to act as a support option for the centre-backs when playing out.

Ziyech operated from the right and was tasked with covering the advances of Brighton’s wing-back Marc Cucurella, with the Moroccan’s three interceptions the joint-highest on the field. 

Mason Mount and Callum Hudson-Odoi then rotated between doing the same on the left and supporting Romelu Lukaku in more central areas, Hudson-Odoi proving the wider of the two.

Yet our attacking endeavours were a little disjointed once again and Lukaku ended his involvement with 10 minutes remaining having had just 18 touches, the fewest of any starter. Mount and Hudson-Odoi only registered totals in the mid-40s, dwarfed by Brighton’s attackers who played with more energy and intensity.

Pressing reset

Fatigue was a theme picked up by Tuchel after the game as the Chelsea head coach pinpointed our hectic recent schedule as having drained the physical and mental capacity of his charges. The data backs up the German’s claims too.

Pressing out of possession, measured as the number of times we applied pressure to an opposing player who is receiving, carrying or releasing the ball, was our lowest since a Covid-hit squad played away at Wolves before Christmas. Our success rate when doing this was just 20 per cent, the lowest recorded all season.

Perhaps that is unsurprising when you consider this was our 15th game in all competitions since the start of December. By comparison, Brighton have played nine in that same period. 

The upcoming international break, which comes after Tottenham’s visit to Stamford Bridge on Sunday afternoon, will be a welcome rest period.

More from chelsea