Chelsea lost several points in the Premier League title race by conceding a break goal for Danny Welbeck to play 1-1 against Brighton this morning.
The draw lifted Chelsea into second place, over Liverpool, but a victory was needed to keep the strong-willed Manchester City in sight.
It looked as if Chelsea were earning three points despite a weak display at Stamford Bridge, only for Welbeck – on as a substitute – to head a left-wing post from Marc Cucurella in the first minute of the break.
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Romelu Lukaku scored for the second game in a row and put Chelsea ahead in the 28th minute, moments after Reece James jumped off with what appeared to be a serious hamstring injury. Chelsea also lost another defender, Andreas Christensen, to a back injury at the break.
Chelsea, who have drawn three of their last four league games, face Liverpool on Sunday, and manager Thomas Tuchel almost admitted that his team was no longer in the title race.
“How are we going to be in it?” said Tuchel. “We have seven COVID (-19) cases. We have five or six players out for six or more weeks. How do we compete in a title race?
“Everyone else who has a full squad, everyone in training has the full power to get through this league. We would be stupid to think we can make it out of COVID and injuries and just play and everyone would be stupid to do it without 23 fit players. “
Asked if the integrity of the Premier League has been lost due to the different COVID profiles for each team, Tuchel said: “This is the reality. This is where we are and we have to adapt to the demands of the situation you are in. in.
“I competed very hard for the victory in Brighton at home. I do not know what to expect from my players in terms of physique, intensity or minutes. No one knows more because we have never done anything like it. We play on trial and error and see what we can do. “
Tuchel was also smoking over several referee decisions, namely the challenge on Christian Pulisic in the second half, which was not awarded a penalty kick.
“We had a 100 percent penalty against Christian Pulisic. We had a 50-50 challenge from Mason Mount just before their equalizer,” he said.
“Why does he need to whistle, why should the referee whistle before the ball is over the line … we have VAR to check, why can we not wait and check it.
“The punishment, it’s a joke. It’s a joke not to intervene from VAR.”
Chelsea have something of a defensive injury crisis ahead of the Liverpool game, with James and Christensen likely out, Thiago Silva still in doubt due to a thigh problem and Ben Chilwell out this season with a knee injury.
Brighton showed full value for a draw in an end-to-end meeting.
“I thought it was a great performance from the players, full of courage, quality and of course against a good side,” said Brighton manager Graham Potter.
“Getting here and being ourselves was a big challenge. So honor the players.”
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