Potter makes three changes, Chilwell starts and £40m player drops out: Chelsea predicted XI vs Salzburg

Chelsea’s frantic fixture schedule continues on the weekend with the trip to Brighton in the Premier League.

The Blues go into Saturday afternoon’s clash in great form, boasting a nine-game unbeaten run across all competitions since Graham Potter took charge as the head coach at Stamford Bridge.

For Potter, it’s a swift return tomorrow to the club he left to take the Chelsea position.

It’s going to be very interesting to see what sort of reaction he gets from the AMEX Stadium crowd because he did some great things as Brighton boss before leaving them.

It’s been a thankless task trying to predict the Chelsea XI each game because of how much Potter likes to rotate his personnel and formation.

However, The Chelsea Chronicle has attempted to predict the line-up that will face Brighton this weekend. It includes three changes from the team that started Tuesday’s 2-1 win over Red Bull Salzburg in the Champions League group stages.

GK and defence

Potter may look to stick with the same backline against Brighton that did start and play well against Salzburg.

Kepa Arrizabalaga will surely keep his starting position in goal.

In front of him, it’s a back three of Trevoh Chalobah, Thiago Silva and Marc Cucurella.

If Chelsea’s boss wanted to make a change, resting Silva and replacing him with Kalidou Koulibaly is a potential route to go down.

Potter confirmed earlier this week that Koulibaly didn’t play against Salzburg because of an injury that was deemed “not too serious”, but the fact there’s been no update yet on his fitness for the weekend means he doesn’t make this predicted XI.

Photo by Roland Krivec/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

Midfield

In our view, Potter will look to reinforce the wide areas tomorrow afternoon against a Brighton side he knows inside out.

Ben Chilwell and Cesar Azpilicueta are both recalled to the starting line-up in this side to play in the wing-back roles, which would give some extra defensive resilience. That means Christian Pulisic loses his starting role from the weekend, while Raheem Sterling is pushed further up the pitch in a tactical tweak.

It’s a double pivot of Jorginho and Conor Gallagher to complete the Chelsea midfield, with the duo both starting and doing well against Salzburg.

Described as “brilliant” by Glenn Hoddle in the Champions League, Kovacic actually drops down to the bench despite his recent heroics. Potter confirmed after the Salzburg tie that £40million midfielder Kovacic came off the pitch with a little bit of a problem in his calf.

Attack

Kai Havertz’s reward for a match-winning goal in Europe could be another starting berth away to Brighton.

The German leads the line in this set-up, with Mason Mount and Raheem Sterling slotting in just behind.

Mount was an unused substitute against Salzburg and got some rest in, so perhaps he’ll come into the team in the place of misfiring Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Photo by Sebastian Widmann/Getty Images

Predicted Chelsea line-up against Brighton

Kepa
Chalobah Silva Cucurella
Azpilicueta Gallagher Jorginho Chilwell
Mount Sterling
Havertz

IN: Cesar Azpilicueta, Ben Chilwell, Mason Mount
OUT: Christian Pulisic, Mateo Kovacic, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

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A sports journalist who graduated from Staffordshire University in 2016 and is a Chelsea supporter. Loves anything football or cricket related when it comes to England.