Chelsea face early 2024/25 Premier League season blow after Brighton incident

Mauricio Pochettino, Manager of Chelsea, reacts

Reece James was sent off for Chelsea late on against Brighton as the Blues won 2-1 at the Amex Stadium on Wednesday night.

Mauricio Pochettino's side are now within touching distance of a return to European football with the West London club hosting Bournemouth next on the final day. Chelsea's superior goal difference to eighth-placed Manchester United means the Blues are all but assured of a place in next season's Europa Conference League at a minimum.

A win against the Cherries will see them secure a Europa League spot after Newcastle dropped down to seventh following a 3-2 defeat against Man United at Old Trafford. It would be the club's first season in Europe's second-tier competition since they won the tournament back in 2019.

But one sour moment against the Seagulls came just minutes before the clock struck 90. Full-back James who returned from injury against Nottingham Forest last time out, was sent off for violent conduct.

James' red card will mean that he misses the club's next three Premier League fixtures, starting with the game against Bournemouth at Stamford Bridge on Sunday. He will also miss the Blues' opening two league fixtures of the 2024/25 campaign.

The 24-year-old has endured an injury-hit campaign. But when fit, he remains Chelsea's best full-back and will play a key role in any future Pochettino side, depending on whether the Argentine remains next season.

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At Tottenham, the full-backs in Pochettino's Spurs team were a crucial part of how his side played. The overloads out wide from Danny Rose and Kyle Walker saw the Lilywhites compete for Premier League titles in 2016 and 2017.

Chelsea are an exciting prospect if Ben Chilwell and James in particular are able to stay fit next season. However, the suspension to their club captain has already provided an early blow to 2024/25.