Updated: Dec 10, 2020
Brighton’s difficult clash with Chelsea ended in disappointment, as the club failed to get off the mark in their opening game of the season.
Despite a positive performance overall, Potter’s side were undone by an avoidable penalty, a Reece James wondergoal and a misguided deflection from Adam Webster.
Aside from the result however, Brighton will be mostly concerned by the premature departures of Adam Lallana and Ben White, who hobbled off with injuries during their Premier League debuts.
The former Liverpool midfielder, who has been a victim of hamstring and knee issues throughout his career, was substituted for Aaron Connolly shortly before half-time. Potter was then forced into action yet again when Ben White’s outstretched leg blocked Timo Werner’s effort on goal in the 76th minute, resulting in what seemed to be a minor injury.
Ironically, White played every minute under Marco Bielsa at Leeds United during their promotion campaign, but his enforced substitution saw Potter adopt a back four in his absence, as Brighton looked to chase the game and play a more direct style.
On a positive note, both recruits looked comfortable in Potter’s system before their injuries, with Lallana playing as the most advanced central midfielder and White occupying the right-sided centre back role alongside Liam Dunk and Adam Webster. Lallana’s creativity was on display in the 35th minute, when the former international threaded a pass through to Neal Maupay - his footwork failed to control the ball and he fluffed the chance. Although this was perhaps Lallana’s crowning moment in the first half, the 32-year-old also upheld his defensive duties, as he and Tariq Lamptey worked together to shut out Marcus Alonso and Mason Mount on Chelsea’s left flank.
Ben White saw plenty of the ball during Brighton’s impressive first half display, and was given license to drive long balls over Chelsea’s back line in search of Maupay and Trossard, who were looking to run in behind the defence at every opportunity. Although White’s passes were mostly off-target, it seems Potter is expecting his new centre half to play a fundamental role in the Seagulls’ attack: if an opportunity presents itself, White can target the space behind enemy lines, and if nothing’s available, one of the midfield three will come short to receive the ball.
Standing a few inches shorter than his defensive partners, White lost a few aerial battles midway through the second half, most notably to Loftus-Cheek, who beat him in the air with relative ease. However, the debutant’s mobility and eye for danger saved Brighton on numerous occasions, as he single-handedly denied two goal scoring opportunities. As the last man back in both situations, White cut out a certain assist from Loftus-Cheek on the stroke of half-time, before stoutly blocking Timo Werner’s shot towards the end of the second half.
Despite two unfortunate injury concerns, Brighton fans will be hopeful that the pair were substituted only as precautions, considering both seemed to walk off rather easily. Former Ajax utility man Joël Veltman, who also joined this summer, is yet to make his first domestic appearance for the club but may fill in for White on the right side of defence if the centre back is deemed unavailable against Newcastle on Sunday.