Brighton never expected to win this game and after being two down seemed to have little chance of so doing. Yet they pulled one back with Solly March’s first goal in 15 months and Chelsea had to engage in dubious tactics to hold out for the last 15 minutes.
In particular when Solly March was put through, Alonso illegally held him back. It was a red card offence but none was given. Even if the yellow was justified , tha perpitrator Alonso had held back Anthony Knockaert illegally and should have been yellow carded earlier. Referees are lenient to the big clubs.
Why? Because referees fear the publicity of getting a decision against the big boys wrong.Much safer with Brighton, as Chris Hughton’s complaint will get a short para in the match report. Speak to Huddersfield or Fulham fans and they will tell you the same.
I was encouraged by Brighton’s spirit.
The difference between these sides is the bench. Chelsea, even without Morata, could pull off the bench Giroud, Barkley and Loftus-Cheek -internationals all – whilst the Seagulls could only sub Florian Andone for Glenn Murray: our whole bench costs less than most Chelsea subs. Subs like Danny Drinkwater and Victor Moses do not even get on the pitch.
When Brighton fans taunted Chelsea with “Racist bastard” chants back came the riposte “Champions of Europe – you will never sing that”.
It’s that immediate collective banter that is unique in British football and exists in every ground.
I also enjoy watching very good players like Chelsea’s Cesar Azpilieta or Eden Hazard. In the era of Messi, de Bruyne and Modric he is not perhaps given the acclaim as one of the world’s great midfielders he deserves.
Bernardo our right back also had an exceptional game. Talking to Alan Tanner afterwards, I made the point that Chris Hughton had re-fashioned his squad less abruptly and more successfully.
One by one the promotion team has been replaced. The next to go may well be Dale Stephens. He showed great loyalty by not leaving on a free when his contract expired. He has been a loyal hardworking servant but as a midfielder he does not have a defence-splitting pass or, as often as not, any forward pass, does not score and is not an enforcer.
That type of box to box player is out of fashion and come next season I can see Hughton dipping into the market for a more skillful, goal scoring player in his position.