Chelsea's 3 best players from vital win at Brighton

  • Chelsea beat Brighton 2-1 on Wednesday
  • Hopes of European qualification go to final day of season
  • Blues' three best performers from trip to Amex Stadium
Chelsea secured three points at Brighton
Chelsea secured three points at Brighton / Ryan Pierse/GettyImages

Chelsea are on the verge of securing European qualification after beating Brighton & Hove Albion 2-1 on Wednesday night.

The Blues sat as low as 11th in the Premier League table as recently as March, but a fine run of form down the final stretch of the season has put them right back in contention for a spot in either the Europa League or Conference League.

Goals from Cole Palmer and Christopher Nkunku put Mauricio Pochettino's side two up at the Amex Stadium, before a red card for captain Reece James opened the door for a late Seagulls comeback. Danny Welbeck pulled one back for the hosts in stoppage time, but Chelsea held on to secure the win.

Here were Chelsea's three best performers on the south coast.

Cole Palmer

Cole Palmer
Palmer again ole ole / Justin Setterfield/GettyImages

Even without Chelsea competing in Europe this season, Cole Palmer has managed to register 41 goal contributions - 27 goals, 14 assists - this season.

Even when you take out the penalties, that is a staggering number of involvements.

Even with the Blues' various on and off-field crises, only two players in Chelsea's history - Didier Drogba and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink - have bettered Palmer's tally of 22 Premier League goals in a single season.

Palmer's latest work saw him loop a header from a Marc Cucurella cross up and over into the far corner. Get you a man who can do it all.

Christopher Nkunku

Christopher Nkunku
Nkunku whipped out his iconic celebration / Ryan Pierse/GettyImages

Given they're now only eight points off the Premier League's final Champions League spot, it's hard not to wonder what Chelsea's season could have amounted to if star signing Christopher Nkunku's campaign wasn't derailed by injuries.

The 26-year-old would certainly have helped ease the scoring load often placed on the shoulders of Palmer, and given Pochettino's penchant of extracting goals out of his best forwards, you can imagine he would have feasted during the periods where Chelsea were seriously underperforming in the final third.

Malo Gusto teed up Nkunku for his this goal for the club and whipped out his trademark balloon celebration in front of the travelling fans. Chelsea will certainly be hoping to see that a lot more often next season.

Malo Gusto

Malo Gusto
Alright mate put it away / Ryan Pierse/GettyImages

Chelsea's full-back situation has taken some rather unexpected twists this season.

Ahead of the campaign, right-back James was appointed club captain, with left-back Ben Chilwell the vice-captain. As the season comes to a close, you have to wonder if they should even be first choice anymore.

Cucurella, who has finally come into some form in an inverted role and provided the assist for Palmer's opener, has nailed down Chilwell's role during his injury absence, and James' main problems remain his fitness levels and discipline, receiving a red card for a petulant kick out at Joao Pedro.

Chelsea have been fortunate that one of their best signings of recent years in Gusto has been able to reliably fill in for James, and if their skipper ever leaves Stamford Bridge, they would be fine to soldier on without him.

Gusto's assist - his ninth of the season - for Nkunku saw him race in behind Simon Adingra before setting himself to pick out his countryman with a pinpoint cutback, the French connection Chelsea fans have been craving to see for months.