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Brighton and Hove Albion


Albion’s 4-1 win over Chelsea provided some rich choices for football writers. Graham Potter’s return to Brighton, his first defeat as head coach, a first victory in English football for Roberto De Zerbi, our first league win against the Londoners and a feverish mood in the Amex – the people of press gallery could take their pick of a number of promising lines and ways to weave them together.

In the sun on sunday, Dan King expressed a feeling that was growing in the city by writing: “It had to happen, didn’t it? Graham Potter suffered his first defeat as Chelsea boss at the Amex.

“‘Potter, Potter what’s the score?’ chanted the home fans as Brighton closed out their maiden win under substitute Roberto De Zerbi. And how Seagulls De Zerbi did it, after a superb first-half performance against Chelsea.

“They were leading 3-0 at half-time after Leandro Trossard scored early and Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Trevoh Chalobah crossed their own net. Against Manchester United, Potter’s changes brought his side back into the game and they were well worth a point. This time, there was no way to save the day.

“After the Seagulls flooded his entire squad in the first half, Potter found hope with a second-half goal from Kai Havertz. But Brighton rallied and ended a fabulous afternoon when Pascal Gross added a fourth stoppage time.

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Adrien Kajumba from Mail on Sunday caught the provocative vibe in the Amex. “Of all the places where Graham Potter suffered his first defeat at Chelsea, especially one like this. And of all the teams against which Roberto De Zerbi will earn his first victory against Brighton.

“On this most memorable afternoon for Brighton and their new manager, the message was clear – you can take our manager, the left-back and a host of staff, but you won’t show up here and walk away with so are the three points. There are some things, they might say, that money can’t buy.

“After five games without a win under Potter’s successor De Zerbi, this one, with all the surrounding circumstances, seemed to be exactly what Brighton needed. ‘Fired up’ fails or their relentless performance during much of this 90 minute justice.

“Indeed, Brighton played with the fearlessness and conviction against big-name opponents, as they took the game to Chelsea from the start, which Potter is credited with instilling in them during his tenure at the Amex.

“De Zerbi’s reign took off late and a decisive win to start that process too, Brighton’s 100th in the top flight and the first in league history against Chelsea.

“Potter, meanwhile, was eyeing a first defeat after an unbeaten start to a nine-game reign at Chelsea, perhaps the last place he would have wanted to suffer it, his former club. The humiliating nature of the first half in particular, as Chelsea were tactically outmaneuvered, overwhelmed and crumbled would have added salt to their wounds.

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“To his credit, Potter didn’t hide, standing on the edge of his technical area as his team unfolded in front of him. It’s a shame for him that his players weren’t so challenging.

Perhaps the best introduction came from Sunday Telegraph Football correspondent Sam Wallace, who wrote that “Graham Potter’s team of well-trained, sharp passers and tactical opportunists walked away victorious to the cheers of their supporters, although, unfortunately for Potter himself- even, this team is the one he no longer manages.

“It was Brighton’s best Potter created in three seasons there, when they punched above their weight against the big six – with 10 wins against those clubs in 37 games under their former manager. Back in charge of one of these great clubs, Potter will have recognized all the hallmarks of this approach under his successor Roberto de Zerbi, whose players jumped on the vulnerability of some of Chelsea’s famous names and won the game with three goals in the first half.

“The home fans loved it – and their hostility towards Potter and the six staff who left with him last month, as well as former player Marc Cucurella, grew with every goal. Without a win since Potter’s departure, they might well have feared that the mojo that kept this club afloat in the Premier League was gone with them. This result has been the reassurance that they still have the power to polish the noses of the big and the good, and for De Zerbi, it will have been really sweet.

“It was the end of Potter’s nine-game unbeaten streak at Chelsea, and a painful reminder that when big clubs fall, they fall hard. Until last month, Potter had spent his coaching career as a than an underdog and it was an acute experience of the opposite – a pleasure taken from a bad defeat at the hands of the team he built.

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Tom Roddy of Sunday time was one of the few writers to direct Albion’s current head coach rather than the man he replaced, writing: ‘Sometimes he was on his knees, at others jumping in the air. It was the day long awaited by the emotional Roberto De Zerbi – his first win as manager of Brighton and Hove Albion. And one that may have meant even more to their vengeful fans.

“For the Italian coach, this resounding and historic result was a relief; for the fans, it was pure retribution as victory came against De Zerbi’s predecessor, ending Graham Potter’s nine-game unbeaten streak since leaving for Chelsea seven weeks earlier in a painful divorce.

“These wounds are far from healing, but it would have helped. De Zerbi’s side were stunning at times, clinical in attack and comfortably in control, keeping Chelsea at bay as Potter made unsuccessful moves from the touchline.

“The beautiful beast he has formed over the past three years has turned on his maker and swallowed him whole, much to the delight of those who once cheered his name.”

Jacob Steinberg, one of the writers present who are instructed by their newspapers to keep a close eye on everything Chelsea has written in The Observerr that “Brighton was rampant, ruthless and utterly brilliant. They showed many of their former manager’s best traits, playing with style, intelligence and tactical flexibility, but it was no act of tribute. It was Potterball with a Zerbian fanfare and, as Chelsea walked off the pitch to the sound of mockery ringing in their ears full time, no one inside the Amex Stadium could have made the mistake of thinking that Brighton longed for the past.

“It was an agonizing way for the former Brighton manager’s nine-game unbeaten run to end. Potter’s former employers were out for revenge and they ruthlessly exploited Chelsea’s weaknesses.

“For De Zerbi, who had gone five games without winning since replacing Potter, it was a vindication of his attacking philosophy. There was also anger. The curious back and forth between these clubs made that home fans began screaming blood from the start. There was mockery for Marc Cucurella, vitriol for Potter and his coaches, and the venomous atmosphere lifted Brighton, whose overarching goal seemed to force anyone who tried to call them feeder club Chelsea to think again.

“Their football blew Chelsea away. Thiago Silva, whose distribution from the back was poor, cleared goal-line clearances from Leandro Trossard and Pervis Estupiñán during the opening minutes, and the visitors quickly cracked. The soft play in midfield allowed Kaoru Mitoma to find Trossard, who danced around Kepa Arrizabalaga and tapped the ball into an empty net.

“De Zerbi joined a good, smart club. Brighton’s creative juices were flowing and they doubled their lead after more chaotic Chelsea defending, Solly March’s corner brushing past Gallagher and Ruben Loftus-Cheek turning the ball into his own net in the 14th minute. March had the time of his life against Cucurella, who had a disastrous afternoon against his former side at left centre-back.

Nizaar Kinsella took up the story of the evening standard website. “Ruben Loftus-Cheek’s own goal was an unforced error, but Trevoh Chalobah’s at the end of the first half was due to terrible defending on the flanks which gave Pervis Estupinan a chance to exploit the space behind Pulisic.

“Potter’s next two big tactical decisions fixed the mess at half-time, moving to a back four with Kepa injured in a similar change with Edouard Mendy. Loftus-Cheek played well at right-back and was instrumental in creating Havertz’s goal early in the second half.

“Chelsea regained control of the game but it was too late with Sterling and Cucurella off in the 60th minute – an admission of poor performance and Potter’s starting error.

“Pascal Gross’ late fourth goal was the consequence of Chelsea chasing the game and throwing three forwards into an enthusiastic approach, compounding their misery.”

In the sunday mirror, Alex Smith wrote that “the energy towards Potter and Marc Cucurella, who also dumped the Seagulls for the Blues earlier this season, has filtered and inflated the Brighton players. Chelsea had never seen two players score an own goal in a Premier League game before, but Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Trevoh Chalobah changed that by sticking their legs together at the wrong time.

“Potter’s first loss coincided with substitute Roberto De Zerbi’s first win and Albion’s first against the Blues since 1933. The Italian was visibly emotional during the celebrations and explained his behavior during his tricky two months , which saw him leave Shakhtar Donetsk due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“De Zerbi said: ‘I’m very happy for me and my team because we went through eight really difficult months. I had a great team that Putin decided to take me out.

“‘I have found another team and I am grateful to have found these players and this club’.”

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