Chelsea’s draw against Brighton and Hove Albion was completely overshadowed by events away from the Stamford Bridge pitch. Understandably so.
The match itself was instantly forgettable with Thomas Tuchel’s side producing a lacklustre display. In truth, the Blues were fortunate to come away with a point as the Seagulls fashioned the better chances.
Outside of Stamford Bridge was where the real drama was on Tuesday evening. Prior to the game, a group of around 1,000 Chelsea fans descended on the stadium in protest of the club’s decision to join a proposed Super League.
By the end of the night, the club had reversed its decision. As had the five other five Premier League sides to sign up for the breakaway competition.
The dust is slowly settling on the off-pitch events of Tuesday night. And that gives us an opportunity to discuss a few of the talking points from Chelsea’s 0-0 draw against Brighton.
Tuchel’s growing worry
Since taking charge of Chelsea at the end of January, Tuchel has only suffered one home defeat in the Premier League: the shock 5-2 defeat against relegation-threatened West Bromwich Albion.
One defeat from seven league games at Stamford Bridge is, on the face of things, an excellent record. Yet the Blues have drawn as many matches as they’ve won at home in the top-flight under Tuchel.
The latest was Tuesday’s game. Chelsea were largely blunted throughout the 90 minutes, the only real chance of note fell the way of Kai Havertz in the opening period but his effort was tame and saved by Robert Sanchez.
Clearly, there were extenuating circumstances as to why the Blues were flat and ineffective against Brighton. Yet Tuchel himself admitted he is slightly worried about his side’s form a Stamford Bridge.
“We’ve missed two opportunities in home matches and this worries me a little bit, but we have to keep going,” he said.
“I fear I will never be pleased with a point at Stamford Bridge. I fear this will never happen. It was clearly our target to win the home match, we knew it was a tough one.”
Billy Gilmour’s post-match action
The 19-year-old is having to be incredibly patient at Chelsea. Since Tuchel’s arrival, Gilmour has played just twice, and both of those appearances have come in the FA Cup.
Perhaps what’s been more frustrating for the midfielder, however, is that prior to Tuesday’s game, he had only been involved in the Premier League match-day squad on three occasions.
Too many times, the Scotland Under-21 international has been left at home, forced to watch his teammates from afar. But with Mateo Kovacic injured, Gilmour was at least on the bench against Brighton.
He didn’t get on. That was no surprise. Even though the midfield two of Jorginho and Mason Mount struggled, Tuchel opted to change the cast around the two rather than replace them.
However, after the goalless draw, Gilmour did take to the Stamford Bridge turf. As Tuchel conducted his post-match interviews, the young Scot was sprinting back and forth across the pitch in the background with a member of the coaching staff shouting encouragement.
Gilmour is clearly fit and ready to play. Whether he gets another chance to beyond the end of the campaign remains to be seen. A big decision has to be made this summer on what happens to the teenager next.
Tammy Abraham remains absent
Abraham is Chelsea’s top scorer this season. Yet he hasn’t played for the Blues for 61 days. It’s all getting a little strange now.
Admittedly, the academy graduate’s long absence is partly down to an ankle injury sustained in February’s win over Newcastle United. However, the 23-year-old has been fit since the international break, he has been ready to make his return.
But he hasn’t played a single minute and has been omitted from the match-day squad against West Brom, Manchester City, and Brighton.
“I have a lot of sympathy for him, and I can absolutely understand that he’s worried, sad and maybe angry with me when I make these decisions,” said Tuchel after Saturday’s FA Cup win against Man City.
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“I have full understanding, but what I appreciate about Tammy and about all the others who are in a similar situation, is the mentality, the attitude he arrives with, because he never lets it affect the group.”
Were Chelsea’s other forwards in stellar goalscoring form, it would be easy to understand why Abraham was being constantly overlooked by Tuchel. That isn’t the case.
Werner has netted once since the German coach’s arrival, as has Kai Havertz. Olivier Giroud, meanwhile, has struck twice.
Abraham can bring something to the Chelsea attack if given the opportunity. As the weeks pass, though, it’s looking increasingly likely he will follow the same path as Fikayo Tomori: a promising academy graduate who is moved on for reasons that nobody truly understands.