Chelsea will look to get back on the winning horse in the Premier League after the setback against Liverpool as they host Brighton at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.
Chelsea saw their youngsters shining in the midweek with a 7-1 thumping of Grimsby in the Carabao Cup. One of the highlights of it was the return of stars like Reece James and Callum Hudson-Odoi, who will both strengthen Frank Lampard’s squad and will be in contention to feature straight away in the more regular matches.
Now, the focus will shift to the Premier League, wherein Chelsea find themselves languishing at 11th on the league table, level on points with fellow early season strugglers Tottenham (7th) and Manchester United (8th). But, the loss to Liverpool could be seen in a positive light, with the Blues creating more chances than the 2018-19 Premier League runners-up.
Brighton on the other hand, have petered away quite a bit after the 3-0 win in the season opener against Watford. Failing to win any of their following games, the club find themselves with just 6 points from 6. But, with the season only 6 games in, Brighton could leapfrog Chelsea if they manage a win at Stamford Bridge this weekend.
Team News & Tactics
Emerson Palmieri and Ruben Loftus-Cheek remain sidelined for an extensive period now, with the former expected to be back after the international break. Antonio Rudiger is also out of contention. But, there is good news in the form that Andreas Christensen and Olivier Giroud are nearing their return, although the Brighton game comes too quickly for the duo.
Kepa Arrizabalaga will resume his duties as the Chelsea goalkeeper. With Christensen and Rudiger both out, Kurt Zouma and Fikayo Tomori should be the centre-backs against Brighton. Cesar Azpilicueta will start but will be aware that Reece James will be breathing down his neck. Marcos Alonso is the automatic choice on the left.
The midfield trio is almost set in stone for now, with N’Golo Kante, Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic likely to bear the responsibility of building the tempo for Chelsea. Tammy Abraham is an automatic choice upfront against Brighton and Mason Mount should also start out-of-position again on the left.
Despite the return of Callum Hudson-Odoi and the presence of Christian Pulisic, Willian should be preferred, with Lampard opting for the Brazilian over others so far.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Kepa; Azpilicueta, Zouma, Tomori, Alonso; Kante, Jorginho, Kovacic; Willian, Abraham, Mount
Graham Potter has a lot of injury issues to deal with before the trip to Chelsea. Shane Duffy joined Leon Balogun on the injury list, which means summer arrival Adam Webster should start against Chelsea on Saturday. Lewis Dunk and Dan Burn should keep their place at the back in a 3-man defensive line.
Solly March, Leandro Trossard, Bernardo and Ezequiel Schelotto are all sidelined for the fixture while Alireza Jahanbaksh is in contention to feature but his name is unlikely to appear in the starting eleven. Dale Stephens and Davy Propper are likely to take on the mantle of competing with the Chelsea midfielders, with Martin Montoya and Steven Alzate on either side of them.
Pascal Gross will join Neal Maupay and Glenn Murray upfront. But, Gross is more likely to act as a number 10, with Murray and Maupay both playing centrally instead of a natural 3-4-3. Graham Potter should go with this setup after their woeful record in front of goal in the recent matches and also to take advantage of the leaky Chelsea defence.
Probable Lineup (3-4-1-2): Ryan; Webster, Dunk, Burn; Montoya, Propper, Stephens, Alzate; Gross; Maupay, Murray
1. Over 2.5 Match Goals @ 1.66
2. Chelsea Clean Sheet – NO @ 1.61
1. Neal Maupay to score anytime @ 3.75
1. Brighton have scored in only one of their last four Premier League games.
2. Chelsea have not kept a clean sheet this season (in 9 matches).
3. Brighton have failed to score against Chelsea in three of their last four meetings.
4. Chelsea have not lost at home to Brighton in the Premier League (W2).
5. Tammy Abraham has seven goals from just 408 minutes of Premier League football this season.
Player to Watch
Reece James performed well on his senior debut for Chelsea during the midweek. While that will not be enough to snatch the starting spot at right-back away from Cesar Azpilicueta, the current Chelsea captain needs to step up and improve on his performances so far this season if he is to protect himself from being dropped in favour of the Chelsea academy ace.
Brighton will look to use the likes of Alzate and Gross, who will drift towards the wide areas to exploit and Azpilicueta will have to be on his toes to sniff out any danger, especially with the current centre-back pairing not being as experienced. Azpilicueta might also have to keep a check on Murray and Maupay’s diagonal runs every now and then.
Chelsea 2-1 Brighton
The 7-1 drubbing of Grimsby will provide some confidence to Frank Lampard as to the direction the club is going, especially with majority of that starting eleven being youth prospects. Coming to the game at hand, Brighton should do enough to keep Kepa’s run of games without a clean sheet going.
But, Chelsea have enough quality about them to overcome anything Brighton throw at them. The Blues should prevail narrowly, with a 2-1 scoreline being our pick. There is always the chance of Chelsea conceding uncanny goals though, which might have a bearing on the result. We are going for a narrow win but we won’t be surprised if the game ends in a draw.