Six things we learned from Brighton's defeat to Chelsea

Eden Hazard was the star of the show as Chelsea beat Brighton 4-0 at the Amex. Here's six things we learned from the game.

Saturday, 20th January 2018, 4:30 pm
Updated Friday, 8th June 2018, 6:34 am
Eden Hazard fires home Chelsea's first goal. Picture by Phil Westlake (PW Sporting Photography)

Caught cold

Brighton were caught cold by Chelsea's lightning start and found themselves 2-0 down in just six minutes.

The Seagulls' lack of goals has been well documented and it made an already difficult job against the reigning champions all the harder.

Referee Jonathan Moss turned down two Brighton penalty appeals. Picture by Phil Westlake (PW Sporting Photography)

The quick inter-link play between Eden Hazard, Willian and Michy Batshuayi left Albion chasing shadows in the early exchanges. When Brighton failed to clear Victor Moses' low cross after three minutes, Hazard fired Chelsea into the lead.

Just three minutes later, Hazard and Batshuayi were again involved before Willian drilled home the visitors second.

Chris Hughton had gone with five at the back for the first time this season but for the second week in succession, the Seagulls conceded inside five minutes.

VAR needed sooner rather than later?

Eden Hazard scores his second. Picture by Phil Westlake (PW Sporting Photography)

There's been many comments about the good and bad of VAR in the past couple of weeks.

Glenn Murray's winner in the FA Cup against Crystal Palace was given after it was decided the ball had not hit his hand. That was the good side of VAR but there was then criticism after Chelsea's League Cup tie with Arsenal, when a penalty incident was only looked at after play had continued for a good 30 seconds.

Would Brighton have been awarded a penalty - or two - today if VAR had been in place?

Wing-back Ezequiel Schelotto went down under a challenge from Chelsea keeper Willy Caballero and referee Jonathan Moss turned down their appeals. Replays suggested a spot-kick could easily have been given.

Later in the first half, Schelotto went to ground under a Tiemoue Bakayoko challenge but his penalty appeals were again waved away - much to his disgust as he was booked for his subsequent protests. That incident was less clear-cut on replays but you've seen penalties given for similar incidents.

Brighton fans let Moss know what they thought of him as he headed off the pitch at half-time and when he returned to the field for the second half.

There can be little debate the sooner VAR comes in for decisions like that, the better - replays will just need to be shown on big screens for fans inside the ground to know what is happening to make sure VAR can be a success.

Lack of luck or a clinical edge needed?

Albion could count themselves unfortunate not to get the score back to 2-1 on a couple of occasions before the hour mark.

Both of Ezequiel Schelotto's penalty appeals could have been given and Davy Propper's header which came back off a post was unlucky - and would have put the Seagulls right back in the game early in the second half.

However, Tomer Hemed really should have scored late in the first half when he was unmarked eight yards out but was denied by Chelsea keeper Willy Caballero. It was an excellent save by the Blues stand-in stopper, with Thibaut Courtois out, but it's the type of chance you have to score in the Premier League.

Shane Duffy also failed to get a header from a decent position on target, while Schelotto was unfortunate not to get his name on the scoresheet in the second period when he nipped in to win possession off Marcos Alonso but Caballero was quick off his line to block the shot.

Brighton will hope new club record signing Jurgen Locadia will provide goals and assists to help in their battle to stay in the Premier League.

Magical Hazard

Chelsea's Belgian winger Eden Hazard was the star of the show at the Amex.

He struck twice and his neat flicks, dribbling and finishing showed why he has been on the radar of Spanish giants Real Madrid.

He looked up for it from the off and his performance was right up there with Philippe Coutinho's star showing for Liverpool at the Amex earlier this season.

Hazard struck the opener after just three minutes and then played a key part in the second, before he put the game to bed after a mazy run forward for the third.

Albion will not come up against that sort of quality every week but they need to quickly start picking up points again. After next week's FA Cup tie at Middlesbrough, the following four league games against Southampton, West Ham, Stoke and Swansea will go a long way to determining their Premier League fate.

On the head

There was a huge cheer from the West Stand when Chelsea goalkeeper Willy Caballero kicked the ball into touch and it was headed back on to the pitch by former Albion striker Warren Aspinall.

Aspinall played 32 times for the Seagulls from 1999 to 2000 and now works as a summariser on Brighton games for BBC Sussex.

He coolly just stood up from his seat in the media area and perfectly nodded the ball back into play much to the amusement of the journalists and fans nearby.

One Albion fan in the crowd even shouted 'sign him up'.

All change

Albion boss Chris Hughton certainly rang the changes for the visit of the reigning Premier League champions.

Not only did he make five changes from the 2-0 defeat at West Brom last week but he also switched to a 5-3-2 formation from the regular 4-4-1-1 that has been used this season.

Much has been made of Albion's frailities from set-pieces this season, so Hughton went with three at the back - Connor Goldson joining Lewis Dunk and Shane Duffy in the middle of defence.

Ezequiel Schelotto and Markus Suttner were in the wing-back positions, Dale Stephens, Davy Propper and Pascal Gross were in midfield, with Solly March playing just behind lone striker Tomer Hemed.

There was no place in the squad for Bruno, Gaetan Bong or Anthony Knockaert.

Chelsea made four changes themselves from their last Premier League game, a 0-0 draw with Leicester. Thibaut Courtois, Gary Cahill, Cesc Fabregas and Alvaro Morata all missed out, with Willy Caballero, Willian, Michy Batshuayi and Andreas Christensen coming into the side.

Despite all the Albion changes, Chelsea's quick start ensured the points went back to West London.