There were times when the champions found this anything but a stroll on the south coast. Yet, in the end, their first league win of the year seemed restorative and will be remembered most for the exquisitely incisive rat-a-tat of passes which earned Chelsea their breathing space. There was something hypnotic about that exchange between Willian, Michy Batshuayi and the irrepressible Eden Hazard, a flurry of accurate touches fizzed first-time at breakneck speed while six Brighton & Hove Albion players, all in the vicinity, were left dizzied by it all.
None came close to an interception, each Chelsea touch dropping them further off the pace, before Batshuayi eventually flicked Willian into space to rip a finish gloriously beyond the diving Mathew Ryan from the edge of the area. This attack has been toothless over recent weeks, their centre-forwards enduring mid-season crises of confidence and the approach play too often running aground. Those deficiencies had prompted the emergency calls querying the availability of Andy Carroll, Peter Crouch and, more recently still, Edin Dzeko. But this was also a reminder of Chelsea at their devastating best, a team capable of slicing opponents apart on the counter and inspired by Hazard’s every involvement.