Defending champions Chelsea will look to get back to winning ways when they host Brighton & Hove Albion at Stamford Bridge in matchday 20 of the Premier League.
Chelsea are coming off of a frustrating draw against Everton, which saw them drop another 2 points unnecessarily yet again, putting them 16 points behind Manchester City. They are currently placed third on the table, with 39 points to their name, 3 points behind second placed Manchester United.
Brighton, on the other hand, recorded what was only their 5th Premier League victory of the season last week against Watford, ending a nearly 2-month-long spell of 7 games without a victory. They currently occupy 12th place on the table, a mere 5 points away from the relegation zone.
Antonio Conte is expected to be without the services of David Luiz and Charly Musonda, both of whom are dealing with injuries. Alvaro Morata is available for selection after serving his one match suspension so as a result, Chelsea will mostly switch back to the 3-5-2 formation.
Thibaut Courtois, Antonio Rudiger, Andreas Christensen and Cesar Azpilicueta are all expected to retain their places in goal and defense, as are Marcos Alonso and Victor Moses at wingback. N’golo Kante and Tiemoue Bakayoko are expected to be joined by Cesc Fabregas in midfield as well.
Pedro and Willian will likely make way for for Alvaro Morata, who alongside Eden Hazard will set up shop upfront, with the Belgian taking up a free role.
Probable Starting XI (3-5-2): Thibaut Courtois; Cesar Azpilicueta, Andreas Christensen, Antonio Rudiger; Victor Moses, Tiemoue Bakayoko, Cesc Fabregas, N’golo Kante, Marcos Alonso; Alvaro Morata, Eden Hazard
Brighton & Hove Albion
Chris Hughton is expected to be without the services of Steve Sidwell and Isiah Brown for this tie. The latter will not be available as he isn’t permitted to play against his parent side. Shane Duffy’s availability after suspension will certainly come as a boost for the the Seagulls.
Switching to a 4-2-3-1 formation got Brighton their first victory last week, since their narrow 0-1 victory against Swansea back in November. So it is likely that Hughton will stick with this formation when they face Chelsea and a fe changes are expected to the side that beat Watford last week.
Matthew Ryan is expected to retain his place in goal, with Markus Suttner, Lewis Dunk and Bruno are expected to hold onto their places in the starting XI. Shane Duffy is expected to come back into the starting XI ahead of Connor Goldson.
Dale Stephens and Danny Propper are expected to hold on to their places in midfield, forming a double pivot while Anthony Knockaert and Solly March will likely retain their place on the wings. Pascal Groß is expected to play in a central attacking midfield role, while Glen Murray is expected to come into the squad and lead the line ahead of Tomer Hemed.
Probable Starting XI (4-2-3-1): Matthew Ryan; Bruno, Shane Duffy, Lewis Dunk, Markus Suttner; Dale Stephens, Davy Propper; Anthony Knockaert, Pascal Groß, Solly March; Glen Murray
- Brighton have scored only 1 goal against Chelsea in their last 6 appearances.
- Chelsea have won 8 if their last 11 Premier League matches.
- Brighton have failed to win a match on Boxing day in their last 8 attempts.
- Chelsea are unbeaten in their last 12 matches on Boxing day.
- Chelsea have won their last 5 Premier League matches at home.
1. Over 2.5 Match Goals @ 1.65
2. Eden Hazard to score anytime @ 1.83
1. Eden Hazard to score 2 or more @ 4.75
Player To Watch
Chelsea: Alvaro Morata
The Spaniard’s availability will surely come as a huge boost to Antonio Conte’s side. Chelsea had an astounding 25 shots, of which only 8 were on goal against Everton. Needless to say, the reigning champions clearly missed their top scorer last week.
Chelsea 2-0 Brighton & Hove Albion
We predict a narrow, hard fought victory for the Blues at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea are in need of a positive result and will have to get back to winning ways if they are to keep up with the rest of the top four, and Brighton in their current form shouldn’t cause the Blues too much trouble.
But games aren’t won on paper and despite the quality within Antonio Conte’s ranks, they haven’t been in the best of form this season. Brighton will take inspiration from the likes of Burnley and Crystal Palace and fancy themselves to come away from Stamford Bridge with a result.