Chelsea kick their 2020-21 Premier League campaign off with an away trip to the American Express Community Stadium to take on Brighton in a Monday Night encounter.
Chelsea have had a tremendous pre-season in terms of recruitment. The Blues are in the process of removing unneeded players all while securing deals to bring world class stars to Stamford Bridge. Now all that is left is to see how Frank Lampard can make the new signings a part of his squad and whether the players can subsequently get comfortable with the tactical setup at Chelsea.
Brighton have on the other hand, shed more players than they have signed, with their new arrivals also being shrewd transfers rather than high-profile stars. The club exclaims to now focus on developing their own stars and have a few interesting youngsters that might make it into the first-team this season, if not against Chelsea.
The Seagulls have brought in a good player on a free transfer in Adam Lallana and Ben White has returned from his loan at Leeds United.
The two teams met during the pre-season, with the fixture ending in a 1-1 draw. Brighton did play another friendly, this time a 0-0 draw with West Bromwich Albion. As the two teams begin to open their 2020-21 Premier League season, we now take a closer look at the two squads.
Team News & Tactics
Graham Potter will have fresh faces in the backline lining up for Brighton against Chelsea and for the new season. Mathew Ryan will retain his place in goal for the Seagulls. Ben White is likely to be given a start after an impressive loan spell at Leeds United. Potter seems to prefer a back three judging from pre-season and we could see Adam Webster and Lewis Dunk complete the backline.
New signing Joel Veltman could be on the right in case Potter opts for a defensive mindset, with Bernardo covering the left. This could ideally convert the back three into a solid defensive back five when not in possession.
Adam Lallana could pair up with Davy Propper in midfield to provide the creative push needed. The manager should ideally go for a front three, with Alireza Jahanbaksh stationed on the right, Leandro Trossard on the left and Neal Maupay as the centre-forward.
The 24-year-old will have some heavy boots to fill, with Glenn Murray not part of the striking team anymore. The likes of Yves Bissouma, Solly March and Dale Stephens are all in with good shouts to start against Chelsea.
Probable Lineup (3-4-3): Ryan; White, Dunk, Webster; Veltman, Lallana, Propper, Bernardo; Jahanbaksh, Maupay, Trossard
There is much for Frank Lampard to deliberate while picking his first starting lineup for the 2020-21 Premier League season. While Edouard Mendy is still not finalised, it will be interesting to see how Kepa Arrizabalaga performs in goal for the Blues. Thiago Silva is almost certain to miss the game, with Lampard announcing that he is yet to train with the first-team.
Fikayo Tomori’s future is in doubt and the academy graduate is unlikely to feature against Brighton. While Andreas Christensen is a strong option, we should ideally see Lampard stick with the pairing of Antonio Rudiger and Kurt Zouma in central defence. Cesar Azpilicueta is back in contention to start on Monday.
However, Chelsea have Reece James available and are likely to go with the fitter option against Brighton. Marcos Alonso should trump Emerson Palmieri to start on the left side, especially with Ben Chilwell out on the sidelines.
In midfield, Frank Lampard will not have Mateo Kovacic, who is suspended after having received an early shower in the FA Cup final defeat to Arsenal. Billy Gilmour is also unavailable, which means Lampard is likely to depend on the usual suspects – Jorginho and N’Golo Kante – against Brighton.
Christian Pulisic is another player who has returned in contention but the USMNT star might be afforded some more time before being thrown into action. Hakim Ziyech received a knock in the friendly against Brighton and is unlikely to be involved. We should ideally see Timo Werner start upfront, with three attackers supporting the German international.
Callum Hudson-Odoi and Kai Havertz should fill up the wide positions in absence of Pulisic and Ziyech, with Mason Mount deployed in the void.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Kepa; James, Rudiger, Zouma, Alonso; Kante, Jorginho; Havertz, Mount, Hudson-Odoi; Werner
1. Chelsea are undefeated in their last 7 matches against Brighton in all competitions.
2. Chelsea have failed to keep a clean sheet for 10 Premier League games in a row now.
3. Chelsea have conceded 14 goals in their last five away Premier League games.
4. Brighton were one of the worst performing home sides in the 2019-20 Premier League, netting just 22 points in 19 home games last season.
5. Brighton have failed to score in just one of their last five home Premier League games against Chelsea.
Player to Watch
The Spaniard is no longer the undisputed first-choice goalkeeper at Chelsea but will still get his chance to prove his form against Brighton, with a deal for Edouard Mendy still brewing. Kepa will also be looking to put the horrors of last season past him, wherein he was statistically one of the worst keepers in Europe.
Whether he remains the first-choice at Chelsea will depend on his performances and a clean sheet against a yet goal-shy (pre-season) Brighton could be good for his confidence and stature within the club.
Brighton 1-1 Chelsea
On paper, Chelsea should smoke Brighton. But, often it is exactly that; smokes and mirrors. Chelsea have a lot of players unavailable for the match while Brighton will not be making wholesale changes to the starting lineup that featured last season.
Team chemistry is something that Graham Potter’s team excelled in last season and it is the very thing that is likely to be their strength against Chelsea.
We predict it to be a tough fight for Chelsea and a scoring draw would be the best bet on the day. However, if a team is to win, we are going to go with Chelsea purely based on the quality on paper.