Chelsea will be aiming to start 2020 on a winning note when they take on Brighton & Hove Albion at the Amex Stadium on Wednesday.

Premier League football resumes this midweek with the onset of Gameweek 21 of the 2019-20 season, as the games continue to come thick and fast. Chelsea will be in action first up on the latest matchday, as they lock horns with Brighton & Hove Albion at the Amex Stadium on Wednesday afternoon.

For Brighton, it has been a hit and miss first season under the tutelage of Graham Potter. After a strong start to their Premier League campaign, the Seagulls have struggled to string together a run of wins. In fact, the hosts have managed to win just three wins in their last 10 games, dating back to November 2019, a run that has left them battling for safety.

Chelsea, too, have been inconsistent lately, but have still managed to enjoy a reasonably successful maiden campaign under Frank Lampard. The Blues sit fourth on the Premier League table, four points ahead of fifth-placed Manchester United, although, their recent run has been rather worrisome – the visitors have won just three of their last eight games.

The reverse fixture, played at Stamford Bridge in September, saw Chelsea coast to a 2-0 win over Brighton, courtesy second half goals by Jorginho and Willian. Ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter.

Team News & Tactics

Brighton & Hove Albion

Solly March is closing in on his return. (Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images)

Solly March is closing in on his return. (Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images)

Graham Potter does not have any fresh injury concerns hampering his preparations ahead of the visit of Chelsea. On Wednesday, the Brighton & Hove Albion manager will continue to be without two first-team players, although Solly March is inching closer to his return from a groin injury.

Brighton have had a four days’ rest ahead of their contest against Chelsea, meaning Potter could retain the bulk of the side that beat Bournemouth last time out. In goal, there is no looking past Mathew Ryan, although the Australian goalkeeper needs to pull his socks up after making some glaring errors lately.

The shift to a 4-2-3-1 formation helped Brighton play more fluently and the same system should be preferred against Chelsea. Dan Burn has often been utilised as a makeshift left-back and the 27-year-old ought to be deployed in the same role once again.

At the heart of the Brighton defence, Lewis Dunk should partner up with Shane Duffy, with Martin Montoya starting on the right flank. Dale Stephens ought to return to the starting lineup, providing company to Davy Propper in the midfield double pivot, with Yves Bissouma making way.

Aaron Mooy is likely to reprise the no. 10 role once again, playing off Neal Maupay. Alireza Jahanbaksh was on the score sheet last time in what was an emotional day for the Iranian, who is expected to be rewarded with another start on the right side of the Brighton attack, while Leandro Trossard should start on the left.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Ryan; Montoya, Dunk, Duffy, Burn; Propper, Stephens; Jahanbaksh, Mooy, Trossard; Maupay

Brighton

Chelsea

Like his counterpart in the Brighton dugout, Frank Lampard is not beset by any new fitness issues ahead of his side’s trip to the Amex Stadium. On Wednesday, the Chelsea manager could be without as many as five first-team players, although Marcos Alonso (muscular injury) and Christian Pulisic (hamstring) are hoping to be passed fit ahead of the game.

The duo, though, are unlikely to be risked against Brighton, especially at a time when games are being played every couple of days. Kepa Arrizabalaga is the undisputed choice in goal, but Lampard could shuffle things around in front of him, particularly when it comes to the formation, reverting to the trusted 4-3-3.

Fikayo Tomori could be the player to drop out from defence, with Antonio Rudiger and Kurt Zouma forming a two-man central defensive partnership. Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta should reprise the right-back role, with Emerson Palmieri starting on the opposite flank.

Jorginho should be the man to replace Tomori, returning to the starting lineup after coming off the bench to score in Chelsea’s win over Arsenal. The Italian international will sit at the base of the three-man midfield, with N’Golo Kante and Mateo Kovacic being the workhorses of the side.

Mason Mount could drop down to the bench, with Callum Hudson-Odoi, in need of some inspiration, replacing him on the left side of the Chelsea attack. Tammy Abraham will lead the line against Brighton, with Willian starting on the right wing once again.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Kepa; Azpilicueta, Zouma, Rudiger, Emerson; Kante, Jorginho, Kovacic; Willian, Abraham, Hudson-Odoi

Chelsea

Key Stats

  • Brighton & Hove Albion’s only win in any competition over Chelsea came in the FA Cup in January 1933 (2-1). Since then, they have drawn one and lost 11 of their 12 meetings.
  • Brighton have only lost their first league game of a calendar year in one of the last 10 years (W6 D3), going down 0-1 at home to Wolves on New Year’s Day in 2016.
  • Chelsea have won seven of their last nine away Premier League games (L2). Only Liverpool (25) have more away points than the Blues this season (21).
  • Brighton have won just one of their 17 Premier League games against sides starting the day in the top four of the table (D2 L14), losing each of their last 11 in a row since beating Man Utd 1-0 in May 2018.
  • Tammy Abraham’s 12 Premier League goals have been worth 12 points to Chelsea so far this season. No other player’s goals have been more valuable to their side (level with Sadio Mane and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang).

Player to Watch

Jorginho

Headed in the right direction again? (Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images)

Headed in the right direction again? (Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images)

After a difficult debut season with Chelsea, Jorginho had made a splendid start to the current campaign. Taking little time to adjust to Frank Lampard’s methods, the Italian international had established himself as a pivotal player for the Blues while also being promoted to the role of vice-captain.

However, in recent weeks, Jorginho’s performance levels have tailed off, the result of which has seen him go in and out of the side. However, after playing a key role in Chelsea’s come-from-behind win over Arsenal this past weekend, confidence seems to have returned.

As Chelsea now look to stave off competition from their rivals for a top four spot, Jorginho’s efforts in the middle of the park will be crucial. Brighton will pose a great deal of threat at home and it will be up to Jorginho to provide the control that will be important for the Blues to grab all three points.

Prediction

Brighton & Hove Albion 1-2 Chelsea

Brighton’s form may have been up and down in the last couple of months, but the Seagulls have made sure to make a nuisance of themselves against much more fancied opponents. Tottenham and even Liverpool have struggled to get past them and a Chelsea side who have been inconsistent lately could find it hard to cruise their way to a win this time around.

Expect Brighton to take the game to their visitors, whose defensive frailties could be exposed once again. However, Tammy Abraham often produces the goods on the road and the English striker might once again make the difference on Wednesday. The Hard Tackle predicts a 2-1 win for Frank Lampard & co.

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