Brighton 1-3 Chelsea
- Goals: Leandro Trossard (£6.0m) | Jorginho (£5.0m), Reece James (£5.0m), Kurt Zouma (£5.0m)
- Assists: Tariq Lamptey (£4.5m) | Timo Werner (£9.5m), Jorginho, R James
- Bonus Points: R James x3, Jorginho x2, Trossard x1
Nearly half of all Fantasy Premier League managers will hang on every word Frank Lampard says in his next press conference following a slight injury to Timo Werner (£9.5m) on Monday night.
The Chelsea forward, owned by 48% worldwide, sustained a dead leg in winning a penalty at the Amex Stadium. Even though he was able to finish the game, the knock reportedly restricted much of Werner’s movement during his Premier League debut.
However, that fact arguably holds encouragement for his owners, as the former RB Leipzig man was still Chelsea’s best attacking asset against Brighton despite those mitigating circumstances.
In a relatively unconvincing team performance, it was Werner’s pace and guile that asked the most questions of the Brighton defence. Even though Jorginho‘s (£5.0m) 22nd-minute pass was marginally overhit, Werner was still quick enough to chase it down and win the foul for the penalty.
It was this contact with Mathew Ryan (£4.5m) in the 23rd minute that restricted Werner for the rest of the match, but even carrying the knock, he still offered exciting penetrative runs. If he is fit and available for the Liverpool game, his owners may enjoy watching him operate against a defence with even more space behind it than Brighton offered.
“We saw (signs of how dangerous Werner can be). We know that. I love the way Timo pops up in different areas. He’s not a front-man who attaches to centre-backs so much. Sometimes he starts from a little bit deeper but when he goes, he goes. We saw that with the burst of pace (for the penalty).” – Frank Lampard
“Timo took a knock when he won the penalty so it’s more of a dead leg, we hope. I would like to think if it is a dead leg we have got a bit of time to get for him to get back (for the Liverpool game), and he obviously finished the game.” – Frank Lampard
“(The dead leg) was from the penalty. The knee of the goalkeeper hit me directly. It was hard and for the rest of the game, it hurts a lot. I (couldn’t) do some movements because of the muscle goes very hard. Of course, (I will be available for the Liverpool game). For games like this, you are always fit.” – Timo Werner
Injuries appear to already be the recurring theme for key Chelsea assets, as Christian Pulisic (£8.5m) missed out on the trip to Brighton, and currently boasts a yellow flag ahead of Gameweek 2. The American midfielder was originally in contention for Monday night, but Lampard revealed that he had suffered a setback in recovering from the fitness issues that troubled him at the end of Project Restart. Pulisic is, therefore, another player to listen out for in the next round of press conferences.
“Christian (Pulisic) was training with us last week but he had a little bit of discomfort a couple of days ago where he was trying to train with us and be in contention for today. He has had to just take a few steps back, so we’ll have to see.” – Frank Lampard
It was obvious that Chelsea missed the driving runs and shot-volume of Pulisic at the Amex Stadium and the absence of Hakim Ziyech (£8.0m) limited how much insightful creativity was on display.
As a result, there was criticism of Kai Havertz (£8.5m) and Ruben Loftus-Cheek (£6.0m) who were deployed on the right and middle of an attacking midfield trio behind Werner. The latter was especially poor in possession, too pensive on the ball and guilty of either taking too long to find a pass or simply lose the ball entirely.
Lampard has typically been a fan of 4-3-3 but, to some extent, his personnel shortages forced the switch to 4-2-3-1 on Monday, which struggled to offer much threat in the first hour or so. Perhaps when their key men are fit and available, things might be different.
“I don’t really want to pin us down to that one. We have the capabilities to play that way. We have maybe three or four players who would want to play number 10 for us but it won’t always be that simple. I want us to be adaptable and I think when you look at Kai, Reuben, Mason and Ross, we’ve got a lot of players. We’ve got Pulisic and Ziyech coming back. I have to work on that one. I want us to look fluid. It could be a 4-2-3-1 at times, and sometimes a 4-3-3. I want that movement within us. The players are still trying to work each other out a little bit. I thought today we weren’t as fluid as we could have been. We couldn’t find those passes between the lines. If we work on it, I want us to have a lot more movement up-front than we had today.” – Frank Lampard
It was this shoe-horning of Chelsea’s players into a slightly unfamiliar formation that stunted Havertz’s performance on Monday night.
The £8.5m man has already been sold by 45,000+ managers for Gameweek 2 off the back of a largely anonymous display, but some of his owners may be prepared to show slightly more patience.
It was clear that Havertz was not particularly comfortable on the right-hand side of midfield but it must also be remembered that he has only been training with Chelsea for roughly a week.
Furthermore, Havertz also produced some promising off-the-ball runs in the first half, the sort of thing that does not always get noticed by a cursive eye-test or in the statistics either.
In the opening exchanges, Werner found space down the right flank and squared a sweeping ball for Havertz, who was arriving in the six-yard box. The ball flashed past him by only a few inches, before the play was called back for offside, but seeing Havertz dash in like a centre-forward is certainly encouraging.
The former Bayer Leverkusen man made a similar run in the eighth minute before Mason Mount (£7.0m) tried to play him down the middle. The Englishman slightly overhit his pass, but had it been spot-on, Havertz would have been clean through in a one-on-one with Ryan.
Then after the goal, Werner found some space on the left-hand side this time and, while he was going up against Tariq Lamptey (£4.0m), Havertz made a promising untracked run into the box, which you can see below.
As you can see, the midfielder was ghosting into the box largely unmarked, almost like we used to see with Lampard during his playing days. Had Werner elected to cut his shot back, Havertz would have been free to fire a first-time effort on goal from a central position. Runs such as the ones discussed here could prove fruitful against a Liverpool backline playing a higher defensive line on Sunday afternoon.
“I liked (Havertz against Brighton). It’s not a game where you come away and go ‘here are 10 vintage moments’ but I thought there were moments of real quality and calmness. It’s a big ask, there’s a lot on his shoulders for the sum. The fact that he’s young, coming to a different league. He plays the game at such a pace, in terms of his quality. I thought we saw a few glimpses of that. We also saw him sprint back 80 yards to make a defensive interception having given the ball away so everything I’ve seen about him in terms of his character was spot on. His quality is going to come through.” – Frank Lampard
While Kepa Arrizabalaga (£5.0m) continues to cause issues for Chelsea clean sheet potential, interest in their defenders is likely to increase in the coming days, especially once the Liverpool game is out of the way.
Reece James (£5.0m) put in an exceptional display going forward, netting a stunning goal from distance as he stepped into midfield from his right wing-back berth. His second-half corner helped the former Wigan loanee to an assist for Kurt Zouma‘s (£5.0m) deflected 66th-minute strike.
However, it will be interesting to see how often James will start at right-back for the remainder of the season. His start was partially influenced by an injury to Ben Chilwell (£5.5m) while Cesar Azpilicueta (£6.0m) was declared fit enough only for the bench. When both of those players are fully available and Chelsea get stuck into their European campaign, predicting which of their four full-backs will start each Premier League match may prove more difficult. Furthermore, when Ziyech is back on the team, he is likely to take corners away from James.
Meanwhile, even though it took some time for Brighton to get into the game, it was in the wider areas of defence that they had the most joy against Chelsea’s defence, which still has just one away clean sheet across the 2019/20 and 2020/21 campaigns.
After Steven Alzate (£4.5m) broke through the middle in the 34th minute and unleashed a powerful effort which Kepa batted away, Solly March (£5.0m) was completely unmarked in James’ zone, allowing him the time to line up a shot before it was blocked.
Immediately after half-time, the versatile left wing-back got all the way around the back of James, whipping a cross into the box that cannoned off Aaron Connolly (£5.5m) at the front post and into the side-netting.
Moments later Lamptey had the beating of Alonso, much as March had of James just before. The right wing-back, who continues to look promising as an FPL asset based on his advanced positioning, got into the box only to see his fierce shot blocked by Zouma.
“(Lamptey) was fun to watch. Such energy and enthusiasm for the game. He’s been like that since he came. He’s young and still has much to learn but his approach to football is refreshing.” – Graham Potter
However, Lamptey got a well-deserved assist in the 54th minute, when his pass to Leandro Trossard (£6.0m) found its way into the bottom corner, courtesy of a well-placed distance effort from the Belgian midfielder.
Four minutes later, Trossard’s cross from the right-hand side found an unmarked Lewis Dunk (£5.0m) at the back post. The centre-back made contact but managed to nod his effort wide when he really should have scored.
Generally speaking, Chelsea looked fragile to set-pieces once again at Brighton. That is perhaps no surprise, considering Norwich (12) were the only side to concede more goals from set-plays than Lampard’s men last season (10). Meanwhile, when Trossard’s goal went in, it meant Kepa had conceded nine of the last 13 shots on target Chelsea had faced. Combining those facts with how often Brighton’s wing-backs were able to carve out opportunities in wide areas on Monday night, bodes well for the likes of Trent Alexander-Arnold (£7.5m), Andrew Robertson (£7.0m) and Virgil van Dijk (£6.5m) in Gameweek 2 – as well as Mohamed Salah (£12.0m) and Sadio Mané (£12.0m).
Meanwhile, there are also some encouragements for those invested in Callum Wilson (£6.5m) and Allan Saint-Maximin (£5.5m) for Gameweek 2, as Newcastle host Brighton on Sunday afternoon.
The Seagulls lost two key men to injury on Monday, Adam Lallana (£6.5m) forced off inside the first half, before centre-back Ben White (£4.5m) sustained a knock in the second.
“I’m not sure (about the injuries) yet, to be honest. We’ll have to wait. Hopefully, they’re not too bad but it’s too early for me to give you anything.” – Graham Potter
Brighton and Hove Albion XI (3-5-2): Ryan; Webster, Dunk, White (Groß 79′); March, Alzate (Jahanbakhsh 79′), Bissouma, Lallana (Connolly 45′), Lamptey; Trossard, Maupay.
Chelsea XI (4-2-3-1): Kepa; Alonso, Zouma, Christensen, R James; Jorginho (Azpilicueta 85′), Kanté; Mount, Loftus-Cheek (Barkley 61′), Havertz (Hudson-Odoi 80′); Werner.
FPL Lessons Learned from Gameweek 1
- Fulham 0-3 Arsenal
- Crystal Palace 1-0 Southampton
- Liverpool 4-3 Leeds United
- West Ham United 0-1 Newcastle United
- West Bromwich Albion 0-3 Leicester City
- Tottenham Hotspur 0-1 Everton
- Sheffield United 0-2 Wolves
- Brighton and Hove Albion 1-3 Chelsea
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