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Chelsea have Europe within their grasp after rollercoaster win at Brighton

May 15th, 2024

Are Chelsea the fourth best team in the land? The form table certainly says so and there were moments here when, once again, they genuinely looked like a side of considerable quality and significant promise.

It is far too late for Mauricio Pochettino’s side to qualify for next season’s Champions League, of course, and the final league table will not have them anywhere near the top four. But all of a sudden there is a real sense of a team coming together, of a plan beginning to unfold as was intended.

Brighton are a good side and they had moments of dominance on the south coast, yet Chelsea twice flexed their muscles and twice demonstrated their class. Cole Palmer scored yet again, this time with a terrific header, before Christopher Nkunku issued a reminder that he still exists, and that he is a potential game-changer for his team.

How different might Chelsea’s season have been if Nkunku had been available to make more than his 10 league appearances? The Frenchman converted beautifully for Chelsea’s second goal and moved with a smoothness that has often been absent from Pochettino’s attack.

Only Manchester City, Arsenal and Liverpool have won more points than Chelsea in this calendar year, a fact that has been somewhat overlooked because of their occasional disastrous meltdowns. Those blips aside, the medium-term trend is unquestionably positive and Pochettino, should he want to stay, must feel increasingly confident of doing so. With one game remaining, his team is now in a good position to qualify for European competition.

It was a night that required offensive quality and also some defensive steel. For the final few moments, Chelsea were forced to defend with desperation. A red card for Reece James, for a petulant kick out on Joao Pedro, changed the night. Danny Welbeck struck for Brighton, who then pushed fruitlessly for a late equaliser.

The consistent poaching of Brighton’s talent by Chelsea in recent years — coach Graham Potter and players Robert Sanchez, Marc Cucurella and Moises Caicedo are among those who have moved from the south coast to Stamford Bridge — has created a genuine sense of resentment in this part of the world.

Cucurella and Caicedo were made to feel that resentment from the first minute, with the boos from the stands almost as ferocious as the tackling on the pitch. It was one of those feisty, angry matches from the off. No time for the midfielders, no space for the forwards.

For most of the opening 15 minutes, the busiest man on the grass was therefore referee Michael Salisbury, who for a while seemed to be blowing his whistle on every second breath. Foul followed foul, followed foul.

One of those refereeing decisions was to award Chelsea an early penalty, when Cucurella was brought down by Facundo Buonanotte. A VAR review saved the young Brighton forward, but Cucurella was not to be deterred from damaging his former side.

As Cucurella overlapped from left-back a few minutes later, Palmer darted towards the near post. The subsequent header, looping into the top corner, was outstanding. Palmer has already demonstrated this season that he is a player of many talents, and we can now add heading to his list of attributes. His 25th goal of the campaign.

It was a full-blooded, relentless sort of match and Brighton were more than holding their own. An equaliser was only just out of reach as the first half came to an end, with Pedro’s header striking the crossbar. After the break, they had a strong claim for a penalty turned down after Simon Adingra had been challenged by Malo Gusto.

These were encouraging moments from Roberto De Zerbi’s side, who should have scored through Pascal Gross, but the threat remained at the other end, where Chelsea looked increasingly dangerous on the counter-attack. An injury to Mykhailo Mudryk had provided an opportunity for Nkunku, and the Frenchman prowled with menace from the second he arrived. Strolling onto Gusto’s low cross, he doubled the lead in style.

The red card for James provided late hope for Brighton, who struck through Welbeck, but Chelsea had the clock on their side. Their impressive form continues, despite James’ foolish attempt to derail it.


Chelsea survive late Brighton surge: as it happened


10:04 PM BST

Where that leaves the table

The European Conference League berth looks firmly within Chelsea’s grasp now. A win or draw against Bournemouth next week would confirm at least sixth place for them after Newcastle’s loss at Old Trafford. There is still an outside chance they could get into the Europa League if they win and Spurs lose at Sheffield United on Sunday.


10:00 PM BST

Our man at the Amex


09:57 PM BST

Stato

That Palmer opener feels a while ago now but…


09:53 PM BST

FULL TIME: Brighton 1 Chelsea 2

Relief for Chelsea. After a serene performance for 88 minutes Chelsea tried their best to throw that away in the dying embers. Reece James will be a mighty relieved man.


09:52 PM BST

90+10 mins: Brighton 1 Chelsea 2

Brighton have a corner. Great delivery from Gross, that could have gone anywhere! Chelsea are living dangerously here.


09:49 PM BST

GOOOOAAALLLL (Danny Welbeck)

Well now…Pedro whips a ball through the legs of Chalobah to find Welbeck, who beats Badiashile far too easily.


09:46 PM BST

90+4 mins: Brighton 0 Chelsea 2

Adingra hits the post! Petrovic is beaten easily there. The rebound could have gone anywhere but is cleared by Chelsea.


09:45 PM BST

90+2 mins: Brighton 0 Chelsea 2

Chelsea need to dig in here. They’ve done everything right tonight up until that red card.


09:43 PM BST

90 mins: Brighton 0 Chelsea 2

Reece James will now not play in the final game of the season and will now likely miss the start of next season owing to violent conduct. That will surely be the end of his slim chances of making Gareth Southgate’s England squad.


09:39 PM BST

RED CARD!

James is off! What an earth is he doing there? That is so, so, so, so stupid from the Chelsea captain. Staggering. It’s just a silly kick out…Beckham-esque if you will.

Reece James of Chelsea leaves the pitch after being shown a red card by Referee Michael Salisbury (not pictured) after he is adjudged to have committed violent conduct towards Joao Pedro of Brighton & Hove Albion (not pictured) following a VAR review during the Premier League match between Brighton & Hove Albion and Chelsea FC at American Express Community Stadium on May 15, 2024 in Brighton, EnglandReece James of Chelsea leaves the pitch after being shown a red card by Referee Michael Salisbury (not pictured) after he is adjudged to have committed violent conduct towards Joao Pedro of Brighton & Hove Albion (not pictured) following a VAR review during the Premier League match between Brighton & Hove Albion and Chelsea FC at American Express Community Stadium on May 15, 2024 in Brighton, England


09:39 PM BST

86 mins: Brighton 0 Chelsea 2

VAR check here…what has Reece James been up to here. Joao Pedro goes down in a heap but James has lashed out there.


09:36 PM BST

84 mins: Brighton 0 Chelsea 2

Barco hangs up a beautiful ball, it’s crying out for a Brighton head to find it at the far post but lands in empty ground and trickles out for a Chelsea goal kick.


09:33 PM BST

81 mins: Brighton 0 Chelsea 2

Verbruggen is booked after bringing Jackson down just outside the box. Chelsea want the Brighton keeper off but Jackson’s average first touch surely meant that was not a clear goalscoring opportunity. The ensuing free-kick is tame from Sterling.


09:31 PM BST

78 mins: Brighton 0 Chelsea 2

Ironic cheers go up around the Amex as Caicedo is booked for a clumsy tackle on Enciso. Of the two returning Brighton players this evening, Cucurella has looked much sharper.

Mauricio Pochettino, Manager of Chelsea, gives instructions to Moises Caicedo of Chelsea during the Premier League match between Brighton & Hove Albion and Chelsea FC at American Express Community Stadium on May 15, 2024 in Brighton, EnglandMauricio Pochettino, Manager of Chelsea, gives instructions to Moises Caicedo of Chelsea during the Premier League match between Brighton & Hove Albion and Chelsea FC at American Express Community Stadium on May 15, 2024 in Brighton, England

Mauricio Pochettino, Manager of Chelsea, gives instructions to Moises Caicedo of Chelsea during the Premier League match between Brighton & Hove Albion and Chelsea FC at American Express Community Stadium on May 15, 2024 in Brighton, England


09:28 PM BST

76 mins: Brighton 0 Chelsea 2

Sterling booked for a lazy tackle.


09:28 PM BST

75 mins: Brighton 0 Chelsea 2

Nice move from Brighton. Barco clips a ball into Adingra, who cuts in on his left foot but can’t keep the shot down and Petrovic watches the ball sail over the bar.


09:25 PM BST

72 mins: Brighton 0 Chelsea 2

As things stand, Chelsea would vault Newcastle for sixth place in the Premier League with Eddie Howe’s side currently trailing at Old Trafford. This evening could be working out superbly for Pochettino’s side.


09:23 PM BST

70 mins: Brighton 0 Chelsea 2

Barco produces another good piece of defending as Nkunku whips a cross into the area. the oft-injured Chelsea attacker has been excellent since coming on, perhaps the sharpest he’s looks in his handful of appearances this season.


09:20 PM BST

68 mins: Brighton 0 Chelsea 2

Changes are now made. Madueke and Gusto are off, with James and Sterling coming on.


09:18 PM BST

65 mins: Brighton 0 Chelsea 2

Madueke is being bought off but much to his chagrin seemingly. Reece James waiting to come on.


09:15 PM BST

GOOOOAAAALLLL (Christopher Nkunku)

The visitors double their lead! Gusto escapes down the right and is able to pick out Nkunku in the penalty area. He still has plenty to do but does it superbly.

Chelsea's Christopher Nkunku celebrates scoring their second goalChelsea's Christopher Nkunku celebrates scoring their second goal

Chelsea’s Christopher Nkunku celebrates scoring their second goal


09:13 PM BST

61 mins: Brighton 0 Chelsea 1

Adingra gets beyond Chalobah but again the young defender maintains his composure to get back and clear the danger. He’s been outstanding on the back foot tonight.


09:11 PM BST

58 mins: Brighton 0 Chelsea 1

Brighton are fully on top here. Chelsea need to find a way throgh this tricky period.


09:09 PM BST

56 mins: Brighton 0 Chelsea 1

Brighton should be level. Lamptey plays in a teasing ball to find Gross completely unmarked. The ball bounces just in front of Gross but he makes a hash of it. What a chance.

Chelsea's Djordje Petrovic and Brighton & Hove Albion's Pascal GrossChelsea's Djordje Petrovic and Brighton & Hove Albion's Pascal Gross

Chelsea’s Djordje Petrovic and Brighton & Hove Albion’s Pascal Gross


09:08 PM BST

Pochettino furious

Pochettino is going absolutely mad at his forwards, all four of whom were not tracking back after a counter-attack fizzled out. Chelsea head coach is furious on the sideline.


09:07 PM BST

54 mins: Brighton 0 Chelsea 1

Just when you think Jackson might have turned a corner he produces something that will just drive you mad. Chelsea are in, Jackson has the ball. He can go alone or he can play in Palmer or Nkunku. He does none of the above and instead drives a pass away from both team-mates. Awful.


09:05 PM BST

53 mins: Brighton 0 Chelsea 1

Powerful run from Pedro, who skips past Chelsea defenders before Chalobah intervenes with another superb piece of defending. Chelsea then break and Palmer misses a golden chance to play in Jackson. Basketball game this.

Chelsea's Trevoh Chalobah in action with Brighton & Hove Albion's Joao PedroChelsea's Trevoh Chalobah in action with Brighton & Hove Albion's Joao Pedro

Chelsea’s Trevoh Chalobah in action with Brighton & Hove Albion’s Joao Pedro


09:04 PM BST

50 mins: Brighton 0 Chelsea 1

Gusto fires a shot across the face as Chelsea break after concerted Brighton pressure. Palmer feeds Gusto on the right…it’s your classic cross-come-shot into a dangerous area.


09:00 PM BST

47 mins: Brighton 0 Chelsea 1

Positive start from Brighton. They looks sharp at the start of this half. You feel Chelsea will need another to make sure of this.


08:59 PM BST

45 mins: Brighton 0 Chelsea 1

Adingra goes down in the penalty area after a challenge from Gusto – who has rejoined the fray. It’s not given on the pitch and VAR does not overrule the decision. That looks like a bullet dodged for Chelsea perhaps.


08:56 PM BST

We are back underway…

Big half for Chelsea with European qualification moving a step closer.


08:45 PM BST

Gusto hobbles off

A concerning end to the half for Chelsea as Malo Gusto is left hobbling down the tunnel. We might get 45 minutes of Reece James here as that does not look great for the French right-back.


08:43 PM BST

‘Bitterness and resentment’

There is a real sense of bitterness and resentment in the air tonight. Brighton fans do not feel much warmth towards Chelsea, who have so consistently poached their best talent in recent years, and it is contributing to a tangible restlessness in the crowd. Chelsea look dangerous but so do Brighton, with plenty of half-chances for both sides.


08:42 PM BST

HALF-TIME: Brighton 0 Chelsea 1

You would have said that was fairly convincing half from Chelsea until the dying embers. Entertaining game thus far.


08:40 PM BST

45+8 mins: Brighton 0 Chelsea 1

Pedro hits the bar! Lamptey careers down the right after excellent work from Webster. The cross is well-directed and finds Pedro, whose header clatters off the bar.

Chelsea's Djordje Petrovic in actionChelsea's Djordje Petrovic in action

Chelsea’s Djordje Petrovic in action


08:39 PM BST

45+6 mins: Brighton 0 Chelsea 1

Moments later Jackson has another chance but spurns it! Gallagher’s reverse pass finds Palmer who smashes the ball across the six-yard box. Jackons is stretching but should do better.


08:36 PM BST

45+3 mins: Brighton 0 Chelsea 1

Jackson has the ball in the back of the net but the referee’s whistle goes. The flag is not up, it looks like a little nudge in the back of Lamptey is the offence.

Chelsea's Nicolas Jackson remonstrates with referee Michael SalisburyChelsea's Nicolas Jackson remonstrates with referee Michael Salisbury

Chelsea’s Nicolas Jackson remonstrates with referee Michael Salisbury


08:34 PM BST

45+2 mins: Brighton 0 Chelsea 1

Loose passing from Chelsea at the back gives Brighton a glimpse of goal. Gross attempts to get the shot away but Chalobah is there to get a vital block in.


08:32 PM BST

45+1 mins: Brighton 0 Chelsea 1

Nine minutes added on at the end of the half. Penalty deliberation and injuries to Dunk and Mudryk most likely responsible.

Brighton & Hove Albion's Joao Pedro in action with Chelsea's Benoit BadiashileBrighton & Hove Albion's Joao Pedro in action with Chelsea's Benoit Badiashile

Brighton & Hove Albion’s Joao Pedro in action with Chelsea’s Benoit Badiashile


08:30 PM BST

43 mins: Brighton 0 Chelsea 1

Palmer is close to another. Gusto latches onto a clever ball from Madueke and picks out Palmer in the box. His shot is deflected out for a corner.


08:28 PM BST

41 mins: Brighton 0 Chelsea 1

Mudryk looks to have taken a knock to the head and is coming off as a result. Nkunku is on as a result.


08:26 PM BST

40 mins: Brighton 0 Chelsea 1

That was Cole Palmer’s 22nd Premier League goal of the season, matching Frank Lampard’s highest ever single-season tally (2009/10 season).

Chelsea's English midfielder #20 Cole Palmer celebrates after scoring his team first goal during the English Premier League football match between Brighton and Hove Albion and Chelsea at the American Express Community Stadium in Brighton, southern England on May 15, 2024Chelsea's English midfielder #20 Cole Palmer celebrates after scoring his team first goal during the English Premier League football match between Brighton and Hove Albion and Chelsea at the American Express Community Stadium in Brighton, southern England on May 15, 2024

Chelsea’s English midfielder #20 Cole Palmer celebrates after scoring his team first goal during the English Premier League football match between Brighton and Hove Albion and Chelsea at the American Express Community Stadium in Brighton, southern England on May 15, 2024


08:25 PM BST

38 mins: Brighton 0 Chelsea 1

A small ruckus appears to have broken out close to the away end. Some boisterous Chelsea lads pushing a little too close to the line no doubt. Stewards are briskly to diffuse any situation.


08:22 PM BST

35 mins: Brighton 0 Chelsea 1

In truth, it had been a rather muted start from Palmer. He hadn’t really gotten into the game but then popped up with the opener. Class.


08:19 PM BST

GOOOOOOAAAAALLLLLL (Cole Palmer)

Chelsea lead and it’s that man again. Cucurella cuts a ball back from the byline where Palmer beats the man at the near post with the deftest of headers.

Chelsea's Cole Palmer scores their first goal past Brighton & Hove Albion's Bart VerbruggenChelsea's Cole Palmer scores their first goal past Brighton & Hove Albion's Bart Verbruggen

Chelsea’s Cole Palmer scores their first goal past Brighton & Hove Albion’s Bart Verbruggen


08:19 PM BST

32 mins: Brighton 0 Chelsea 0

Concern for Brighton with Lewis Dunk down with an injury. It looks fairly serious until he gets up and jogs off the pitch and turns looking as if he wants to return…and so he does.


08:16 PM BST

30 mins: Brighton 0 Chelsea 0

Palmer’s effort smashes into the wall. He has another go off the rebound but against Brighton scramble well to clear their lines.


08:15 PM BST

28 mins: Brighton 0 Chelsea 0

Lovely work from Jackson, who skips clear of Adingra and then draws a foul from Dunk. Free kick for Chelsea, yellow card for the Brighton captain.

Decent chance this.


08:13 PM BST

25 mins: Brighton 0 Chelsea 0

Brilliant save from Verbruggen after a dipping strike from Malo Gusto. He’s all of 25 yards out but the Brighton keeper is at full stretch to tip over for a corner.


08:11 PM BST

23 mins: Brighton 0 Chelsea 0

After a breathless start, both managers are asking for more from their sides. Enciso leaps high at the back post but can’t direct his header goalless.

Benoit Badiashile of Chelsea passes the ball whilst under pressure from Joao Pedro of Brighton & Hove Albion during the Premier League match between Brighton & Hove Albion and Chelsea FC at American Express Community Stadium on May 15, 2024 in Brighton, EnglandBenoit Badiashile of Chelsea passes the ball whilst under pressure from Joao Pedro of Brighton & Hove Albion during the Premier League match between Brighton & Hove Albion and Chelsea FC at American Express Community Stadium on May 15, 2024 in Brighton, England

Benoit Badiashile of Chelsea passes the ball whilst under pressure from Joao Pedro of Brighton & Hove Albion during the Premier League match between Brighton & Hove Albion and Chelsea FC at American Express Community Stadium on May 15, 2024 in Brighton, England


08:09 PM BST

21 mins: Brighton 0 Chelsea 0

Cucurella is getting plenty of joy down the left but is met with a wall of boos whenever he picks up the ball. Webster is penalised for a loose challenge on Mudryk.


08:06 PM BST

All action at the Amex

Chelsea's Noni Madueke in action with Brighton & Hove Albion's Simon AdingraChelsea's Noni Madueke in action with Brighton & Hove Albion's Simon Adingra

Chelsea’s Noni Madueke in action with Brighton & Hove Albion’s Simon Adingra

Brighton and Hove Albion's Simon Adingra reacts to a missed chance during the Premier League match at the Amex Stadium, Brighton and HoveBrighton and Hove Albion's Simon Adingra reacts to a missed chance during the Premier League match at the Amex Stadium, Brighton and Hove

Brighton and Hove Albion’s Simon Adingra reacts to a missed chance during the Premier League match at the Amex Stadium, Brighton and Hove

Facundo Buonanotte of Brighton & Hove Albion is challenged by Marc Cucurella of Chelsea during the Premier League match between Brighton & Hove Albion and Chelsea FC at American Express Community Stadium on May 15, 2024 in Brighton, EnglandFacundo Buonanotte of Brighton & Hove Albion is challenged by Marc Cucurella of Chelsea during the Premier League match between Brighton & Hove Albion and Chelsea FC at American Express Community Stadium on May 15, 2024 in Brighton, England

Facundo Buonanotte of Brighton & Hove Albion is challenged by Marc Cucurella of Chelsea during the Premier League match between Brighton & Hove Albion and Chelsea FC at American Express Community Stadium on May 15, 2024 in Brighton, England


08:04 PM BST

PENALTY OVERTURNED

Buonanotte took man then ball there. It’s marginal but the decsion goes against Chelsea.


08:03 PM BST

Referee to the monitor

This looks like it will probably be overturned.


08:02 PM BST

PENALTY TO CHELSEA

Cucurella fouled by Buonanotte inside the area. VAR are checking.


08:02 PM BST

14 mins: Brighton 0 Chelsea 0

Decent chance for Jackson, who is put through after quick thinking from Palmer with a free kick. Jackons attempts to round Verbruggen but makes the angle too acute.


07:59 PM BST

12 mins: Brighton 0 Chelsea 0

Lovely run from Mudryk creates space for Palmer. He has a decent sight of goal but his effort is straight at Verbruggen.


07:58 PM BST

11 mins: Brighton 0 Chelsea 0

Cucurella has a cut on his face and is removed from the pitch, leaving Chelsea with just 10 men on the pitch for the moment.

Blood is seen from a cut to the eye of Marc Cucurella of Chelsea as he reacts towards Fourth Official Andy Davies during the Premier League match between Brighton & Hove Albion and Chelsea FC at American Express Community Stadium on May 15, 2024 in Brighton, EnglandBlood is seen from a cut to the eye of Marc Cucurella of Chelsea as he reacts towards Fourth Official Andy Davies during the Premier League match between Brighton & Hove Albion and Chelsea FC at American Express Community Stadium on May 15, 2024 in Brighton, England

Blood is seen from a cut to the eye of Marc Cucurella of Chelsea as he reacts towards Fourth Official Andy Davies during the Premier League match between Brighton & Hove Albion and Chelsea FC at American Express Community Stadium on May 15, 2024 in Brighton, England


07:57 PM BST

9 mins: Brighton 0 Chelsea 0

Open game at the moment and this time it is Brighton’s turn to press again. Adingra collects the ball from Lamptey, his shot is deflected and bounces out of play. Petrovic was rooted there. Fortunate for Chelsea.


07:53 PM BST

6 mins: Brighton 0 Chelsea 0

Gross whips in an excellent cross in the direction of Dunk. His flick-on cannons off a Chelsea defender and runs out for a Brighton corner.

From the corner, Webster rises high and forces Gallagher into a clearance off the goal line.


07:51 PM BST

4 mins: Brighton 0 Chelsea 0

If you thought Moises Caicedo was going to try to lay low on his return to Brighton you would be mistaken. In fact, he’s gone the other way and is sporting a fresh blonde haircut this evening.

Chelsea's Moises Caicedo in actionChelsea's Moises Caicedo in action

Chelsea’s Moises Caicedo in action


07:50 PM BST

2 mins: Brighton 0 Chelsea 0

Verbruggen forced into a good save after an excellent move from Chelsea results in a Madueke effort from the left. Very good attack from the visitors.

Chelsea's Noni Madueke and Brighton and Hove Albion's Simon Adingra (right) battle for the ball during the Premier League match at the Amex Stadium, Brighton and HoveChelsea's Noni Madueke and Brighton and Hove Albion's Simon Adingra (right) battle for the ball during the Premier League match at the Amex Stadium, Brighton and Hove

Chelsea’s Noni Madueke and Brighton and Hove Albion’s Simon Adingra (right) battle for the ball during the Premier League match at the Amex Stadium, Brighton and Hove


07:47 PM BST

1 min: Brighton 0 Chelsea 0

Gallagher clatters Gross inside the opening minute. Could and probably should have been a yellow card in truth.


07:46 PM BST

Chelsea stars booed


07:46 PM BST

We are underway

An exciting 90 minutes in store in front of a packed house at the Amex.


07:42 PM BST

Kick-off just around the corner

The teams are emerging at the Amex…


07:41 PM BST

Interesting perspective

The start of the season for Chelsea this campaign was rough, with Pochettino’s side taking just 25 points from their opening 19 games. Since then, the results have been much better, with Chelsea scoring the fourth-most points in the second half of the season thus far. There is improvement, that is plain to see.

Points in first half of the season

  • Liverpool 42

  • City 40

  • Arsenal 40

  • Villa 39

  • Spurs 36

  • Man Utd 31

  • Chelsea 25

Points in second half 

  • City 48

  • Arsenal 46

  • Liverpool 37

  • *Chelsea 32

  • Villa 29

  • Spurs 27

  • *Man Utd 23

*Played one game fewer


07:33 PM BST

Kick-off under 15 minutes away

Mykhaylo Mudryk of Chelsea warms up prior to the Premier League match between Brighton & Hove Albion and Chelsea FC at American Express Community Stadium on May 15, 2024 in Brighton, EnglandMykhaylo Mudryk of Chelsea warms up prior to the Premier League match between Brighton & Hove Albion and Chelsea FC at American Express Community Stadium on May 15, 2024 in Brighton, England

Mykhaylo Mudryk of Chelsea warms up prior to the Premier League match between Brighton & Hove Albion and Chelsea FC at American Express Community Stadium on May 15, 2024 in Brighton, England

Chelsea's Cole Palmer during the warm up before the matchChelsea's Cole Palmer during the warm up before the match

Chelsea’s Cole Palmer during the warm up before the match


07:30 PM BST

‘We are playing with enthusiasm and confidence’

Roberto De Zerbi on his side’s recent performances: “The last two games we have been better [and played] with enthusiasm and confidence. Playing with João Pedro, Danny Welbeck and Julio Enciso in the right physical condition is important for us. Julio is playing well, he is in a good physical condition, João Pedro as well.

“Simon Adingra, after two months of not [being in] the best physical condition, is now playing very well and for all of that we are in a good moment.”

On the challenge posed by Chelsea: “They are playing very well, they deserve to fight to reach a European position in the table,” De Zerbi added. “Pochettino is a top coach, they have top players – some very young but they are improving.

“Game by game they have played better. I watched the last five, six games. For them it was crucial to win against Manchester United at home when they were losing 3-2, but they won 4-3.”


07:28 PM BST

More from Pochettino

On his future at the club: “I always try to be positive and to translate my feelings. But I never said I’m not thinking of the future. We’re thinking of the future; it’s already planned. The plan is there to start the pre-season – the date we’re going to start – and then it’s not in my hands to be here or not to be here.

“I’m so excited for the future. If we keep the main group and add some quality, and keep on the same run as the past 26 or 27 games, we can compete for big things.”


07:27 PM BST

Hazard bonus

Somehow, some way…Chelsea are still getting money from Real Madrid as a result of the £130 million deal that sent Eden Hazard to the Spanish capital in 2019.

Despite the Belgian forward having retired from football seven months ago, Chelsea have landed a £5 million bonus due to add-ons in the deal for Hazard.

Chelsea’s spending has come in for plenty of valid criticism in recent months but the choice to cash on formerly brilliant Hazard when they did was, and continues to be, a masterstroke.


07:16 PM BST

Chelsea at the Amex


07:15 PM BST

‘My understanding is that he is happy’

Brighton chief executive Paul Barber speaks about Roberto De Zerbi in an interview with BBC Sport: “Privately, Roberto is quiet, calm, reasonable and sensible. He understands what our limitations are. Behind the scenes, the model is very well known to him.

“He has got two more years to go. My understanding is that he is happy. He likes the club. He likes this group of players a lot. He knows he has a good owner. He knows he has good facilities. He knows it is a club that has a particular model and we won’t break it for anyone. Those are consistent. He also knows he can see me or Tony (owner Tony Bloom) at any time. There are no surprises.

“What we can’t control is a club anywhere in the world coming in and making an approach for him. But we knew that with Graham Potter, and Chris Hughton, who did a great job for us. We are very cognisant of that happening to us but we have a plan for all those eventualities.”


07:12 PM BST

Better late than never

A host of names on the Chelsea bench this evening that we’ve become more accustomed with seeing as part of an injury report. Nkunku, Chilwell, James, Colwill…these are all names that have missed large swathes of time for Chelsea this season. Would things have been any different had they all been fit? Maybe not but they do give Chelsea’s bench more of a deeper feel than some of previous weeks.


07:02 PM BST

Pochettino on potential European qualification

“It’s important to keep a strong mentality and really believe. They are going to be two really tough games. Brighton are a really good team and then [we have] Bournemouth at home [on the final day]. The most important thing is to believe.

“In the past 26 or 27 games we’re doing really well. We need to keep in this way – always trying our best, to compete and keep improving. If we can compete well in the last two games, then we have the possibility to get into Europe, which would be amazing for us.”


06:53 PM BST

The teams in normal format

Two changes for Brighton, with Joao Pedro proving fit enough to start in place of Danny Welbeck, while Tariq Lamptey comes in against his old club in place of the injured Joel Veltman.

Brighton XI: Verbruggen; Lamptey, Webster, Dunk, Igor; Gross, Gilmour; Buonanotte, Enciso, Adingra; Pedro.

Subs: Steele, Lallana, Moder, Welbeck, Barco, Baleba, Fati, Offiah, Atom.


Only one change for Pochettino this evening as Malo Gusto comes in to replace Thiago Silva

Chelsea XI: Petrovic; Gusto, Chalobah, Badiashile, Cucurella; Caicedo, Gallagher; Madueke, Palmer, Mudryk; Jackson.

Subs: Bettinelli, Thiago Silva, Sterling, Ugochukwu, Nkunku, Chilwell, James, Colwill, Casadei.


06:52 PM BST

What are Chelsea playing for?

The Europa Conference League will be the primary focus for Pochettino, with his side currently level on points with Newcastle but currently trailing them on goal difference.

Chelsea need to better Newcastle’s results in either of their last two games, one of which comes at Man Utd this evening to move ahead of them.

It is also worth noting that if Man City win the FA Cup, an extra European berth will be freed up meaning the seventh-placed team (currently Chelsea) will qualify for the Conference League.


06:46 PM BST

Team news: Chelsea’s starting XI


06:45 PM BST

Team news: Brighton’s starting XI


06:41 PM BST

A stunning evening in Brighton

An aerial view of American Express Community Stadium ahead of the Premier League match between Brighton & Hove Albion and Chelsea FC at American Express Community Stadium on May 15, 2024 in Brighton, EnglandAn aerial view of American Express Community Stadium ahead of the Premier League match between Brighton & Hove Albion and Chelsea FC at American Express Community Stadium on May 15, 2024 in Brighton, England

An aerial view of American Express Community Stadium ahead of the Premier League match between Brighton & Hove Albion and Chelsea FC at American Express Community Stadium on May 15, 2024 in Brighton, England


06:38 PM BST

Match preview

Two games to go. Seventh against tenth, this is what Premier League dreams are made of.

Okay, fine, perhaps not but there is still plenty of intrigue on the south coast this evening as Chelsea travel to the Amex to meet Brighton.

Talk of Maurico Pochettino’s potential departure from Stamford Bridge this summer feels somewhat at odds with his side’s solid run of form towards the end of an uneven (that may be being a shade too kind) season.

Chelsea have lost just once in their last six games – that one blip was the 5-0 hammering at Arsenal – and will now have their gaze firmly fixed on vaulting Newcastle for sixth place and thus qualifying for the Europa Conference League.

For a side that has spent in the region of £1 billion across recent transfer windows, the third tier of European football appears a heavy underachievement. That said, there was a time this season when a sixth-placed finish looked like a pipe dream for Chelsea and so should they summit that particular peak, there should be a modicum of credit sent their way.

For Brighton, there is no potential of European qualification to add fuel to the fire. However, as ever at this point of the season there is plenty to be said for entering the summer on a positive note.

Like tonight’s visitors, Brighton have been ravaged by injuries this season, making wholesale criticism of Roberto De Zerbi slightly complicated but even with that in mind their inconsistencies this season have been frustrating.

Team news to follow in five minutes or so.

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