This was an afternoon that illustrated the importance of Mason Mount. It is no secret that his constant work-rate and relentless pressing gives opponents no time on the ball while his link-up with Tammy Abraham has been crucial in recent wins.
When Mount was taken off for Mateo Kovacic in the 73rd minute there were already signs of Brighton growing into the game but the balance shifted markedly without the England international.
In a prime example of attack being the best form of defence, without Mount on the pitch Brighton had four of their five attempts on target.
It was, coincidentally, Kovacic’s worst performance of the season and his introduction also had a knock-on effect on Jorginho’s impact as the Italian dropped deeper. The Croatian was sloppy in possession and careless without as he gave away a couple of fouls in threatening areas.
It is physically impossible for Mount to play every minute but Frank Lampard may wish he could.
Reece James had been expected to miss another week of action because of a knock on the ankle he required surgery on last summer. However he was impressive on his return, particularly in the first half when Brighton’s narrow midfield allowed him plenty of opportunities to push forward.
His crossing was dangerous, he also had a couple of attempts on goal and defensively no one won more aerial duels. One of those battles in the air led to Brighton’s Dan Burn, a former team-mate at Wigan, coming off with a broken clavicle and although it was completely accidental, James was given a tough time from the home fans for the rest of the game.
It did not put him off, however, as he continued to dominate – the only blemish on his performance a late foul in a dangerous position that saw Lewis Dunk fire a free kick goalwards.
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