Havertz needs time, Kovacic’s importance emphasised and the key takeaways from Chelsea’s opening day win at Brighton


Chelsea’s 3-1 win over Brighton & Hove Albion this evening gave rise to a host of interesting takeaways, both from a team and individual perspective.

Blues victorious

Frank Lampard’s men got their Premier League campaign underway a short time ago, with a trip to the Amex.

There was understandable excitement amongst the Blues faithful ahead of kick-off, amid a whirlwind transfer market which has seen Chelsea land a host of high-profile reinforcements.

Their starting line-up to face Brighton, though, featured just two such signings.

With Thiago Silva not yet fully fit, and Hakim Ziyech sidelined with a knee problem, it was Timo Werner and Kai Havertz who headlined Frank Lampard’s first XI of the 2020/21 season:

For the hosts, meanwhile, Adam Lallana was also handed a debut starting berth:

And, when all was said and done at the Amex, as had been widely predicted ahead of kick-off, it was the visitors who emerged with all 3 points.

Chelsea took the lead with 23 minutes on the clock, courtesy of Jorginho.

After a blind backpass towards goal left Maty Ryan in all sorts of trouble, the Brighton shot-stopper upended Timo Werner, who read the situation superbly to earn his side an early opportunity to take the lead from the penalty spot.

Italian international Jorginho, a somewhat surprise inclusion from the off this evening, stepped up to slot away the ensuing spot-kick with minimal fuss.

Brighton, though, to their credit, refused to back down to their favoured opponents, and eventually pulled level shortly after the interval.

A long-distance strike from Leandro Trossard, set up by the impressive Tariq Lamptey, somehow managed to find its way beyond Kepa, and into the bottom left-hand corner of the Chelsea goal.

Just when it appeared as though the hosts could be lining up an opening day shock, however, Chelsea hit back, and in some style.

After Reece James was essentially dared to let fly, the English stopper duly obliged, unleashing a stunning effort beyond Maty Ryan into the roof of the Brighton net:

And, just 10 minutes later, it was 3.

Goalscorer James’ outswinging corner from the right was caught on the volley by Kurt Zouma, with the Frenchman’s tame effort having looked set to cause few issues.

However, an untimely deflection left Ryan completely wrong-footed in the hosts’ goal, essentially deciding the clash as a contest in the process.

Chelsea went on to see out the final 25 minutes with minimal fuss, as Lampard and co. got their campaign off to the perfect start.

Notes on the Blues

Whilst the Premier League’s big summer spenders eventually got the result that they were looking for tonight, it wasn’t exactly all positive from a Chelsea perspective at the Amex.

One source of disappointment, for example, came in the form of the debut display of Kai Havertz.

German youngster Havertz of course completed his move to southwest London two weeks ago, amid widespread fanfare.

What proceedings in East Sussex made clear, however, is that he will likely take plenty of time to adapt to the rigours of English football.

Havertz was fielded in an unfavoured right-wing position this evening, in the absence of the sidelined Hakim Ziyech.

And, whilst it should of course be taken into consideration that the 21-year-old was lining out in a new league, alongside a group of new teammates, simply put, he didn’t manage any sort of positive impact on the game.

Brighton’s defenders, for the most part, simply pushed Havertz around, with the German having surrendered the ball on far too many occasions.

Of course, there is much, much better to come from the unquestionably talented starlet, but, based on his showing at the Amex, expectations may need to be tempered, at least for the time being.

Another key takeaway from Chelsea’s opening day victory surrounds Mateo Kovacic.

Croatian midfielder Kovacic was suspended for his side’s trip to the seaside, after being sent off in last month’s FA Cup final.

And to say that his absence was sorely felt would be putting it lightly.

Brighton actually controlled the tempo of proceedings over lengthy stretches of the 90 minutes, with Chelsea’s 2-man midfield pivot of Jorginho and N’Golo Kante having too often been left completely outnumbered (though both actually impressed individually).

Kovacic, with his combination of dynamism and ability to work in tight spaces, though, would no doubt have seen Frank Lampard’s visitors better equipped to secure a foothold in the middle of the park at the Amex.

Whilst his contributions so often go underappreciated, the Blues’ Player of the Season from 2019/20 will prove absolutely integral to Chelsea’s hopes of mounting a genuine title challenge over the course of the campaign ahead.

LONDON, ENGLAND – MARCH 03: Mateo Kovacic of Chelsea during the FA Cup Fifth Round match between Chelsea FC and Liverpool FC at Stamford Bridge on March 3, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by James Williamson – AMA/Getty Images)

The final noteworthy takeaway from a Blues perspective this evening, meanwhile, comes in the form of a major positive: the showing of Reece James.

20-year-old James bagged a goal and assist at the Amex, amid a superb all-round performance.

As outlined above, his strike, the stopper’s first in the Premier League, proved the standout moment of the clash, a thunderbolt from 25 yards.

What was even more impressive, though, was the timing of James’ finish.

With Brighton having just found the net, and looking in the ascendancy, Chelsea’s young full-back took it upon himself to turn the clash back in his side’s favour, with a moment of brilliance.

The English international also looked solid defensively throughout, and was even trusted to slot into a deep-lying midfield role late on, after Jorginho was forced off with a fitness problem.

Chelsea may still have plenty of work to do, but one area which Frank Lampard and co. certainly need not fret over moving forward is the right side of the club’s back-four – Reece James is ready to take the Premier League by storm.

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Premier League table

# Team MP D P
1 Arsenal FC 1 3 3
2 Leicester City FC 1 3 3
3 Newcastle United FC 1 2 3
4 Liverpool FC 1 1 3
5 Crystal Palace FC 1 1 3
6 Everton FC 1 1 3
7 Aston Villa FC 0 0 0
8 Brighton & Hove Albion FC 0 0 0
9 Burnley FC 0 0 0
10 Chelsea FC 0 0 0
11 Manchester City FC 0 0 0
12 Manchester United FC 0 0 0
13 Sheffield United FC 0 0 0
14 Wolverhampton Wanderers FC 0 0 0
15 Leeds United 1 -1 0
16 Southampton FC 1 -1 0
17 Tottenham Hotspur FC 1 -1 0
18 West Ham United FC 1 -2 0
19 Fulham FC 1 -3 0
20 West Bromwich Albion 1 -3 0
Player Team Goals
Salah, Mohamed Liverpool FC 3
Vardy, Jamie Leicester City FC 2
James, Reece Chelsea FC 1
Jorginho Chelsea FC 1
Hendrick, Jeff Newcastle United FC 1
Trossard, Leandro Brighton & Hove Albion FC 1
van Dijk, Virgil Liverpool FC 1
Wilson, Callum Newcastle United FC 1
Zaha, Wilfried Crystal Palace FC 1
Aubameyang, Pierre-Emerick Arsenal FC 1
Lacazette, Alexandre Arsenal FC 1
Klich, Mateusz Leeds United 1
Saiss, Romain Wolverhampton Wanderers FC 1
Jimenez, Raul Wolverhampton Wanderers FC 1
Zouma, Kurt Chelsea FC 1
Magalhaes, Gabriel Arsenal FC 1
Harrison, Jack Leeds United 1
Calvert-Lewin, Dominic Everton FC 1
Bamford, Patrick Leeds United 1
Castagne, Timothy Leicester City FC 1

Source: 101greatgoals.com