The run of draws came to an end at the Amex Stadium on Saturday lunchtime as goals from Willian, Victor Moses and a brace from Eden Hazard saw Chelsea run out 4-0 winners of Brighton. Two goals in the first few minutes gave the visitors a comfortable early lead while Brighton tried to get back in the game before Hazard’s second killed it dead.
The Blues set the tone for the rest of the match with a blistering start to the game and they found themselves two goals up within six minutes. The first goal came from Victor Moses’s cross, which was deflected into the path of Eden Hazard, and the Belgian controlled it before firing it past Matty Ryan in the Brighton goal. Hazard was again involved in Chelsea’s superb second just a couple of minutes later when the front three combined in style to double the lead. A few one-touch passes between Michy Batshuayi, Willian and Hazard culminated in two exquisite back heels, first from Hazard, then Batshuayi and Willian fired an unstoppable shot into the near corner from the edge of the box.
It will take some beating for goal of the season that’s for sure. The joy that erupted between the front three and the rest of the team when the ball hit the back of the net showed the chemistry that these three close friends have between each other on the pitch. However, the home side soon picked up their game and could have had a penalty when Willy Caballero, in for the injured Thibaut Courtois, seemed to bring down Ezequiel Schelotto but Jon Moss waved away any appeals from the team in blue and white.
Caballero was heavily involved throughout the first half and had to deal with a number of crosses that came his way and, I think it’s fair to say, it was uncomfortable viewing for the Chelsea fans behind his goal. However, his shot-stopping qualities are unquestionable and they came into play when he kept out Tomor Hemed’s downwards header from close range. Schelotto was in the thick of the action and was causing problems down Chelsea’s left and he was brought down once again in the penalty area, this time by Tiemoue Bakayoko, but the Frenchman was lucky to get away without punishment from the referee.
Batshuayi, given a chance because of Morata’s suspension, impressed and came close twice in the first half – forcing a good save from Ryan before swivelling and striking wide of the far post. After the break, both teams rattled the post with Davy Propper hitting the outright with a powerful header before Ryan brilliantly tipped Willian’s free kick onto the post. Schelotto almost brought Brighton back into the game but he could only poke into the body of Caballero on the stretch after breaking through the Chelsea defence.
Andreas Christensen could miss the Carabao Cup tie with Arsenal in midweek after he came off with suspected concussion after a collision with Shane Duffy – the Dane managed to clear the ball just yards from his own goal before Duffy’s head came crashing into him. One man who won’t miss the next game is Eden Hazard – his form may have been without reward lately but he got on the scoresheet for the second time after making a solo run look easy.
He picked up the ball just inside the Brighton half and advanced deep into enemy territory before sliding the ball past a number of defenders and the goalkeeper and into the bottom corner. Credit must go to Willian and Batshuayi who made clever runs that pulled defenders away from their teammate. Batshuayi was running so fast to create space for his teammate that he fell over his own feet and ended up watching his compatriot score on his back.
Ross Barkley, who made the Chelsea squad for the first time, was an unused substitute but one replacement made an impact when he came on. Academy product, Charly Musonda, was extremely bright after replacing Willian in the front three and played a huge part in his team’s fourth goal of the day. From a deep position, the youngster played a perfect ball over the top into the path of Victor Moses who controlled and finished past Ryan.
Chelsea kept pace with the other teams at the top with their first league win of 2018 and what a win it was. An emphatic victory over the Seagulls and Antonio Conte is still unbeaten against newly promoted sides as Chelsea manager – the 1-1 draw at Burnley last season were the only points he’s dropped to newcomers.