Mauricio Pochettino will be hoping that this was the night that his Chelsea reign truly started. Just a third win in charge, managing his eighth game, and progression into the fourth round of the Carabao Cup, a competition that already looks a lot like comfortably the best chance of silverware, and with that a spot in Europe.
Chelsea's start to the league season — just one win in six and three defeats already — has left them not only numerically some way off the pace of the top four but also confidence-wise many are doubting the strength of this team. As they faced Brighton, a side that are 11 places above them in the 2023 annual table for the top division, there was genuine pressure.
Had the Blues failed to win this game at Stamford Bridge it would have seen them head into a key league fixture away to London rivals Fulham on Monday in a truly shocking run of form and without much to look forward to. Injuries, suspension, dread and the looming threat of a fixture list make even the bravest have to peak from between their fingers.
So Nicolas Jackson's winning goal in the second half and the rejuvenated team that fought the Seagulls, hands down a much more impressive and in-form side over a prolonged period — stretching back to around 18 months — is actually really big. It is not just the League Cup, it was Chelsea's first win in any competition over opponents in the top half of the league since April 2022.
Brighton and Roberto De Zerbi now have a mini-rivalry brewing with the Blues. The transfer acts, online banter between supporters and the feeling of outdoing the big guns on the big stage were all there at SW6.Pochettino seemingly embraced the chaos with a team including four ex-Brighton players. It was a big night and aRead on football.london