01 January 2020 13:12
"Against the quality they've got that [trying to defend and hope to score your chances] can only be the game plan. Chelsea breezed past FA Cup semi-finalists Brighton & Hove Albion at Stamford Bridge, as Callum Hudson-Odoi impressed on his first Premier League start. Quickfire goals from Eden Hazard and Ruben Loftus-Cheek - the latter a brilliant strike - then put the Blues in total control against Christ Hughton's relegation battlers in the second period. The win sees Chelsea move up one place to fifth in the table, level on points with Arsenal in the race for the top four. Chelsea host Brighton and Hove Albion at Stamford Bridge with Maurizio Sarri in desperate need of a result after last week's lucky escape against Cardiff.
Callum Hudson-Odoi is expected to get a long-awaited first start in the Premier League, while Eden Hazard and N'golo Kante are also expected to return to the starting line-up. A win would see Chelsea leapfrog Manchester United into at least fifth in the table, dependant on Tottenham's result tonight against Crystal Palace. Key Points Chelsea: Kepa, Azpilicueta, Christensen, David Luiz, Emerson, Kante, Jorginho, Loftus-Cheek, Hudson-Odoi, Giroud, Hazard. CHELSEA WIN! 84min: Willian's on for Hazard as the final change.
Hazard beats a couple defender, cuts onto his right, and finishes with ease from 18 yards. 56min: Great chance goes begging as Jorginho finds Hudson-Odoi with a great ball over the top, but his header is straight at the goalkeeper from 3 yards out. 53min: Couple great tackles from Jorginho in the middle get Chelsea going forward, but Brighton recover in numbers. Eventually, a Hudson-Odoi, Giroud 1-2 attempt is intercepted and the momentum's gone. 51min: Hudson-Odoi tracks back to win the ball and start the move, which eventually results in a decent cross towards Giroud, but it's over his head.
Hudson-Odoi destroys his man again and puts in a great low cross towards the front post. 36min: Hazard misses a great chance as Giroud knocks down a long ball despite being marked by two. 35min: Brighton have a long throw after Christensen's turned and Emerson covers, but Chelsea clear. Bissouma however beats both CHO and Azpilicueta on the Chelsea right and finds a green shirt with his cutback, but Andone's shot is weak and Emerson can clear. 33min: Hudson-Odoi beats the new man Knockaert to the byline and crosses towards the front post, but Azpilicueta's header is off target. 31min: March replaced by Knockaert. 29min: Great passing in tight quarters between Kante, Hazard, Hudson-Odoi, with the latter finding Giroud for a first-time shot, which is unfortunately blocked. 27min: Azpilicueta fashions a cross, but Giroud's in among the trees and his header lacks any power to trouble the goalkeeper, who sets to wasting some time. 24min: Hazard tries to make something happen, again, but the move breaks down as he's crowded out in the penalty area. 22min: Hazard tries to make something happen, but the move breaks down. 19min: Jorginho's pass is cut out this time and Brighton counter, but a hopeful wide angle shot is seen wide by Kepa. 18min: Jorginho finds Giroud with a chipped ball. The chest control is great, but the shot on the half-turn is blocked and the goalkeeper gathers. 15min: Kante pushed over in the box after some great one-touch play up the right flank, but the referee isn't interested. 13min: A great cross from Emerson goes begging across goal as no one makes the far post run. 11min: Emerson and Jorginho combine to win the ball in midfield and launch a counter. Giroud lays it off to Kante, who finds CHO, who cuts inside and has a go, but it's blocked for a corner. 9min: Hazard and Giroud try a 1-2, but it's anticipated and put out for a throw. From the throw, Brighton counter, but Chelsea recover. 7min: Hudson-Odoi tests Bong a couple times and wins a corner. Hazard plays it short with CHO, but the second ball is blocked for another corner. This time Hazard plays it in, it's half-cleared and Chelsea maintain possession. 5min: Brighton win a free kick in the middle of the pitch and send everyone forward. Duffy wins the long ball in the area, but it's well wide of the goal. 2min: Pattern already established, with Chelsea holding possession and Brighton dropped all 11 men deep. It's a must-win. Chelsea starting lineup (4-3-3): Arrizabalaga | Emerson, David Luiz, Christensen, Azpilicueta (c) | Loftus-Cheek, Jorginho, Kante | Hazard, Giroud, Hudson-Odoi Sarri: Winning the only way to get upset Chelsea fans on our side The Blues boss thinks that expectations are too high from the fan base and he has urged them to be patient, as he needs more time for his magic Maurizio Sarri admits that he needs a strong finish to the season to turn around fan opinion but remains confused about why sizable sections of's support have turned against him so soon. Chelsea will play a maximum of 12 more games between now and the end of the season, as they look to qualify for the either through a top-four finish in the Premier League or by winning the. "I know only one way: we have to win matches. Probably we have to win more matches. "Probably our fans thought that it would be an easy season for us. In the Premier League, I think that it's not easy. We started very well, a bit lucky in some matches with a very great level of enthusiasm. "Probably, in the last seasons, they were used to winning. So probably they thought that it was normal to continue to win. I think that the other teams, in the last seasons, have improved a lot from all points of view. "So now, the Premier League is really, really very difficult, even for a big club like Chelsea." The complaints come as Chelsea switch from counter-attacking football to a possession-based game. "I think that, at the moment, we are not playing very well our football," he said. "We need to improve playing our way of football. It's not easy, especially in the first season because we started to work only in the middle of July. Then we worked for a couple of weeks and then we started to play every three days. So it's not easy for me to play my football. It's not easy for them [the players], I think. "Now we need to improve in playing our football, in performances. Chelsea face on Wednesday evening and then they welcome West Ham to Stamford Bridge, before their Europa League quarter-final match.