Date: 26th December 2017 at 4:59pm
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Antonio Conte reverted back to a 3-5-2 formation, with Alvaro Morata back in the starting XI, for the visit of Premier League newbies Brighton & Hove Albion.

The Morata and Hazard combination has worked well in recent weeks, would they have guile to breakthrough another resolute defence. With Chris Hughton playing with a lone striker, the potential was there for another frustrating afternoon of football.

Chelsea started the game with plenty of possession but they did very little with it. 18 minutes in, and Chelsea should have taken the lead when the ball was headed back across the goal, to the feet of Tiemoue Bakayoko, who missed the target when it would have been easier to score. Nonetheless it was at least a sign of attacking intent, it was just the wrong player at the wrong time. If there`s one thing we`ve learnt since his arrival in the summer, Bakayoko couldn`t hit a barn door with a banjo.

As the half continued, chances fell to Victor Moses, but the Nigerian was also unable to make them count, although, he at least made the keeper work. The game as a whole was rapidly morphing into something Chelsea fans are well used to. A performance that struggles to break down teams, generally led by British managers, that work hard to close down and sit back and defend deep.

Meanwhile up in Manchester, United were trailing 2-0 at home to Burnley, if ever Chelsea needed a goal or two to take advantage it was now. As half time neared, there was no real improvement.

In attack Chelsea were simply bereft of ideas. The mystery of why Antonio Conte felt the need to play two defensive midfielders against Brighton was exactly that?.a mystery. The game was crying out for some creativity, changes would surely have to be made at half time.

Halftime bought no changes in personnel, but it did bring a change of attitude. Antonio Conte must have had words. Inside less than a minute Chelsea took the lead when Alvaro Morata`s personal assister, Cesar Azpilicueta, played the ball pinpoint onto the his fellow Spaniards head. The header flew in past the keeper. That was the 6th time the two had combined in the Premier League this season, they are fast becoming a lethal combination.

The second half saw Chelsea up the tempo from the insipid first period, Chelsea were now battering the Brighton goal. A free kick from Marcos Alonso was just kept out by the Brighton keeper The possession stats were 75%-25% in Chelsea favour and for once they were making it count.

A Cesc Fabregas corner saw Alonso get his name on the scoresheet from open play. As the corner came into the near post Alonso glanced to ball goalwards and it nestled in the far corner. At 2-0, Chelsea fans could relax a bit.

Chelsea were now in flow. A breakaway from a Brighton corner coupled with good interplay between Hazard and N`golo Kante resulted in Hazard having two attempts on goal that were both blocked. Bakayoko was also presented with another opportunity in the box, which he, not unsurprisingly, shot wide.

Conte`s first substitution of the game was to replace the sublime Hazard, with Willian. Conte`s attitude regarding Hazard, is to take the cotton wool approach with the Belgian. So often, he finds himself being hooked once the game is considered safe.

With Chelsea in control, play was broken up as the substitutions got into full swing. Next on for Chelsea was Michy Batshuayi, with goalscorer, Morata being replaced. As striker, all you can do is score goals, having done that, Morata rightly left the field with his held high, job done.

The final substitution of the afternoon for Chelsea, saw Kante replaced by Danny Drinkwater. It was a change that was more to do with running down the clock rather than tactics. With that the game was over. Chelsea`s 2-0 victory keep the baying pack behind them and it increased the pressure on those in front, particularly Jose`s United who drew 2-2 at home to Burnley. Chelsea closed the gap to just one point.

Next up for the Blues, is another home game against Stoke City on Saturday. What are your thoughts?

 
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