Chelsea will look to bounce back from a midweek blip against MOL Vidi FC as they travel to face Brighton in the Premier League on Sunday.
Brighton have had a bright start to the 2018-19 campaign. But, Chris Hughton has seen his side drop the ball against sides of similar stature while putting in impressive shifts against top teams. The latest setback was a narrow 1-0 defeat to Burnley at Turf Moor, a win for Burnley that catapulted them outside the relegation zone.
While Chris Hughton would be looking to get his side up-and-running again, Maurizio Sarri would be looking for a bit of the same. Yes, Chelsea did halt the Manchester City juggernaut in the Premier League last weekend. But, on either side of it, Chelsea have served unconvincing results, with the recent one being a 2-2 draw against MOL Vidi FC.
What was more concerning was the lack of cutting edge from open play, with both of Chelsea’s goals coming from dead-ball situations, which was in itself a rare sight. Brighton are not an easy place to go and get points this season and Sarri would hope his men are ready for the Sunday fixture.
Chelsea’s last trip to Brighton yielded them all three points, with the home side at the end of a 4-0 battering. We now take a closer look at the two sides.
Team News & Tactics
Shane Duffy is suspended for the tie in what will be a big blow for Chris Hughton and his men ahead of the Chelsea game. Alireza Jahanbaksh has returned to training, but the Sunday game is likely to come too soon for the Iranian winger. Joze Izquierdo is also doubtful and will likely be subject to a late fitness test to find out whether he will start against Chelsea.
Mathew Ryan has been one of the best performers for Brighton and is set to continue in goal. The back four should also remain intact, with Bruno, Leon Balogun, Lewis Dunk and Bernardo making up the numbers in defence. In fact, if Izquierdo is not fit enough to start, we should see Chris Hughton continue with the same starting eleven that lost 1-0 to Burnley.
Pascal Gross, Davy Propper and Yves Bissouma will be the midfield trio, with Pascal Gross likely to be given the instruction to go forward whenever the opportunity presents itself, making it more a 4-2-3-1, with the German in the number 10 role. Anthony Knockaert and Solly March will be the designated men on the wings.
But, we could see Florin Andone being replaced by Glenn Murray, especially with the Chelsea backline likely to be troubled by the veteran’s physicality.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Ryan; Bruno, Balogun, Dunk, Bernardo; Propper, Bissouma; Knockaert, Gross, March; Murray
Alvaro Morata is the freshest name to be added to the list of injuries that include Gary Cahill, Victor Moses and Marco van Ginkel. Mateo Kovacic is struggling to gain match fitness due to a thigh problem and his position in the starting eleven could be touch-and-go.
Maurizio Sarri has locked down his back four, which consists of Cesar Azpilicueta, Antonio Rudiger, David Luiz and Marcos Alonso. The midfield is also likely to see his usual suspects in Jorginho and N’Golo Kante start. The third spot should go to Ross Barkley in Kovacic’s absence.
Pedro could come in for Willian on the right side of the attack, with Eden Hazard returning to assume his place on the left. With Morata injured, Maurizio Sarri will hope Olivier Giroud will prove his worth, especially with his physicality and aerial prowess.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Kepa; Azpilicueta, Rudiger, Luiz, Alonso; Kante, Jorginho, Barkley; Pedro, Giroud, Hazard
1. Brighton Asian Handicap +1.5 @ 1.575
1. Brighton Clean Sheet – YES @ 6.50
You can get the odds of the other Premier League games here.
1. Brighton have scored in each of their seven league home games so far.
2. Chelsea have lost their last two away games in the Premier League.
3. Chelsea have the second highest passing accuracy (88.3%) in the Premier League while Brighton are 17th (73.1%) according to statistics.
4. While Brighton have very less shots per game, their shots to goals ratio (19/9) is better than Chelsea (33/16.9).
5. Eden Hazard has 4 assists in his last 3 Premier League appearances.
Player to Watch
Perhaps the most important player for Brighton on Sunday, Mathew Ryan has come up trumps whenever asked to this season. The Australian has even been linked to a few of the big European and English clubs and would hope to keep his performance level in tact.
With Chelsea likely to come in strong after the win over Manchester City last weekend, the onus will be on Ryan to stop Eden Hazard and his teammates. Judging by the season he has had so far, a clean sheet would not surprise us.
Brighton 0-0 Chelsea
Chelsea have already played out a 0-0 draw recently against Everton and seem to be really struggling to get goals from their forward line, with Eden Hazard the only one contributing on a consistent basis. While Kovacic and Morata’s absence will not be a huge miss, it will have a slight impact on Maurizio Sarri’s tactical plan.
Brighton, on the other hand, have been lighting it up at home this season. Chris Hughton would hope to continue it, with just one loss recorded so far at the Amex Stadium. We expect Brighton to get stuck in and get at least a point, if not more on Sunday.