Brighton stops Chelsea with a tie and complicates it more

BRIGHTON, England (AP) — Winning the English Premier League looks more unlikely for Chelsea as the weeks go by.

And after a 1-1 draw at Brighton on Tuesday, the European champions would instead have to concentrate on not losing their ticket to the next edition of the Champions League.

Chelsea’s league winless run reached four games after Brighton defender Adam Webster’s powerful header from a corner kick in the 60th minute to level the score, opened by Hakim Ziyech in the 29th.

Brighton also came from behind to draw 1-1 with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge three weeks ago.

Chelsea remains in third position, 12 points behind leader Manchester City and with one more game. Given the good form that City is going through, with 12 wins in a row – the most recent against Chelsea on Saturday – the champions seem to be marching inexorably to the revalidation of the title.

And hope would grow for the teams behind Chelsea. Arsenal, fifth in the table nine points behind their London rival, is an example, with three games in hand. Another London team, Tottenham, are 11 points behind Chelsea in sixth, but have played five fewer games.

Chelsea have played every three or four days since mid-November, when English football was paused for the FIFA Date. This gives a total of 18 games in two months, and coach Thomas Tuchel acknowledged that his players “look tired.”

“Right now, it’s hard to be too harsh on our players,” the German strategist commented. “We need a few days off. There is no other solution”.

Another game is coming up this weekend, and it’s a big one, against Tottenham at Stamford Bridge.

The previous match between Chelsea and Brighton was barely played, after being postponed. And just like in that game, ninth-placed Brighton caused the Blues trouble with their fine passing in midfield.

However, Brighton again lacked definition in the final quarter, with Danny Welbeck their only striker.

“Actually I don’t see that there are many teams that can control Brighton for 90 minutes,” Tuchel said.

Ziyech’s goal came on the London team’s first shot on goal. Goalkeeper Robert Sánchez was slow in his reaction to the winger’s low shot from outside the area, and the ball struck a post, perhaps slightly deflected by Alexis MacAllister’s knee.

The equality came when Webster was unmarked to head in a corner that Mac Allister executed from the left.