ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE
LONDON • The transfer window is open and Chelsea need to dip into that £150 million (S$268 million) budget on the evidence of their incoherent performance yesterday.
Manager Frank Lampard spent the majority of a scrappy Premier League contest bemoaning his young team's lack of conviction in the final third. And they ended up learning a harsh lesson, conceding a late equaliser when Alireza Jahanbakhsh came off the bench to rescue a 1-1 draw for Brighton with a bicycle kick.
Chelsea were ragged in the end and Brighton could even have snatched an unlikely win, only for Kepa Arrizabalaga to make a vital save from Neal Maupay's low drive.
Another bland attacking display is worrying for the Blues, given their earlier dominance.
"In the first half, the game was there to be won. We weren't ruthless enough. We got the goal and we had the possession. But we just didn't kill the game off," Lampard said on BT Sport.
"We allowed them to stay in the game. In the end it was a wonder goal but we were lucky not to lose."
He added the lack of consistency is a concern, saying: "It's something we absolutely have to look at. It's a point, I'm not happy with the performance."
It had all looked so promising in the first 20 minutes at the Amex Stadium. Chelsea were back to 4-2-3-1 after ditching their 3-4-3 system 34 minutes into Sunday's 2-1 comeback win at Arsenal.
They bossed possession and threatened down the flanks in an attacking line-up, with Mason Mount's movement in the No. 10 role causing problems for the hosts and the inclusion of Reece James at right-back an extra option in attack.
Having failed to score in any of his first 26 appearances for Brighton in all competitions, Iranian winger Alireza Jahanbakhsh, 26, has now netted in consecutive appearances for the Seagulls.
Months before Jahanbakhsh, Brighton's record £17 million (S$30.3 million) signing, scored his first goal since his move from Dutch club AZ Alkmaar in July 2018. It was the opener in last Saturday's 2-0 home win over Bournemouth.
There is a sense of adventure to James and the opening goal arrived when the 19-year-old charged forward to win a corner.
Aaron Mooy blocked Tammy Abraham's shot on the line but the ball broke to Cesar Azpilicueta, onside and free to turn in his first league goal of the season.
But complacency set in and too many attacks broke down in careless fashion.
Brighton manager Graham Potter had tweaked his approach midway through the first half, ditching the midfield diamond and matching Chelsea's system. After the break, he removed Yves Bissouma and bolstered the attack with Aaron Connolly.
It was now 4-4-2 and the game became frantic. They pressed hard and finally made the breakthrough on 84 minutes, when Lewis Dunk's header looped to Jahanbakhsh.
The Iranian winger, named on the bench despite ending his long wait for his first league goal against Bournemouth on Saturday, showed incredible technique and athleticism in to send the ball into the net.
Brighton ended a run of nine straight league defeats by Chelsea since 1983 while the Blues failed to seal back-to-back league wins for the first time since November.
Jahanbakhsh said: "When I saw the ball, I just tried to hit it as hard as I could and the bicycle kick was the only option.
"It has been a really tough time for me. I have been training well and working hard to get my chance. I couldn't start the year any better."
THE GUARDIAN, REUTERS