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Premier League: Brighton stalemate dims Chelsea title hope

An injury-time equaliser by striker Danny Welbeck helped Brighton & Hove Albion to snatch a point in their away game versus Chelsea on 29 December. Chelsea took the lead on 28 minutes after striker Romelu Lukaku headed a ball home off a corner. Benched for most of the game, Welbeck saw action late in the game to help his side draw level.

Following the stalemate, Chelsea found themselves in second place on the Premier League table behind Manchester City. Liverpool were in third place, with a game in hand. Chelsea will cross swords with both City and Liverpool in the first fortnight of 2024. Meanwhile, the result helped Brighton consolidate their position among the top 10.

Premier League Table as on January 1, 2024
1Manchester City21172253
5West Ham20104634
7Man United1894531
10Leicester City1874725
11Crystal Palace2058723
13Aston Villa19711122
16Leeds United1947819
20Norwich City19241310

Lukaku heads Chelsea ahead

Chelsea dominated possession but could not make it pay until midfielder Mason Mount’s corner, 28 minutes into the game. Brighton keeper Robert Sanchez watched helplessly as Lukaku’s powerful header at the near post flew past him into the goal. However, the goal resulted in a lengthy stoppage of play. Brighton striker Neal Maupay appeared to have been fouled by Lukaku’s trailing arm as the Chelsea striker approached the ball. A review by the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) ratified the goal to give the home side the lead.

Squandered opportunities

Another VAR review ensued immediately after the interval when a Brighton defender brought down Chelsea winger Christian Pulisic in the box. Chelsea’s claim of a penalty came to nought.

Callum Hudson-Odoi had a great opportunity to double the lead for Chelsea. In a counterattack on 55 minutes, the 21-year-old Chelsea defender raced away with the ball only to squander the chance. Having to beat only a defender and the goalkeeper, Odoi failed to get the ball through to Mason Mount.

Brighton level the score

Minutes later, Chelsea nearly paid the price when Brighton midfielder Alexis Mac Allister set up Maupay in front of goal. However, the Brighton forward failed to strike home. Continued pressure from Brighton paid dividends when Welbeck levelled the score. His header off a corner was his club’s first ever away goal versus Chelsea.

English Premier League

Injury woes for Chelsea

A hamstring injury to wing-back Reece James before the interval did not help Chelsea’s cause. James’s mate in Chelsea’s defence, Andreas Christensen, was also given treatment for a back problem. At half-time, Chalobah replaced Christensen.

Chelsea’s fourth stalemate in five league matches at Stamford Bridge left their manager Thomas Tuchel bemused. When questioned by the media as to whether Chelsea could win the league, he sounded sceptical. Injuries would keep four players out of action for weeks, while at least seven players had tested positive.

Brighton manager praises effort

By contrast, Brighton manager Potter had only praise for his players for their persistence till the end of the game. He thought it was a display of courage and quality.

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Raj was born and raised in Nagpur, Rajesh moved to Pune to pursue a degree in the English Language at Savitribai Phule Pune University. Having a knack for writing from a very young age, he naturally excelled in his studies and decided to dip his toes in content editing, as well. Now, a full-time Editor, he enjoys spending his free time watching IPL and badminton matches and writing his first novel. His favourite sport is cricket and he believes cricket is life. But I’ve always dreamed of becoming a professional badminton player, so badminton is also at the top of my list. His biggest win is Saina Nehwal’s bronze at the 2016 Olympics landed him a brand new laptop after his bet on the winning margin came through. His biggest goal is meeting Saina Nehwal and telling her about his biggest win.