It’s a quick turnaround for the Blues as they travel to the South Coast to face Brighton just three days after being taken all the way to penalties in their FA Cup replay against Norwich. Chelsea are without a league win in 2018 but are unbeaten all the same with two draws from two against Arsenal and Leicester City. The visitors to the Amex Stadium are without a couple of key names while Brighton are looking to pick up their first win since before Christmas in the Premier League.
Gary Cahill and Cesc Fabregas are doubts after missing the midweek match against Norwich through hamstring injuries. Having both picked up red cards against the Canaries, Pedro and Alvaro Morata are suspended for this game but Ross Barkley could make his debut for the club. Thibaut Courtois, Antonio Rudiger, Victor Moses and Marcos Alonso are all expected to return to the team after being rested for the cup fixture on Wednesday. Steve Sidwell is the only notable absentee from the Brighton squad as he has an ankle injury.
Probable Brighton XI: Ryan; Bruno, Dunk, Duffy, Bong; Knockaert, Stephens, Propper, Izquierdo; Gross, Murray.
Probable Chelsea XI: Courtois; Azpilicueta, Christensen, Rudiger; Moses, Kante, Bakayoko, Drinkwater, Alonso; Hazard, Batshuayi.
Jose Izquierdo and Anthony Knockaert are arguably Brighton’s most talented players and hold their respective positions out wide in the team. If they can get in behind Chelsea’s wing-backs, that’s going to cause the back three all sorts of problems and, as we know, Antonio Rudiger can be very vulnerable. Pascal Gross is also a major threat in the Brighton side. With four goals and five assists in the league this season, he likes to drift in between the lines so N’Golo Kante and Tiemoue Bakayoko are going to have to look out for him. The same goes for Dale Stephens who sits deep in the Brighton midfield. He’ll have to keep an eye out for Eden Hazard who is as elusive as anyone in the Premier League and the little Belgian will look to link up with Michy Batshuayi.
Chelsea’s record against Brighton
The Blues’ last trip to the Seagulls was back in 1989 at the Goldstone Ground – way before the stylish Amex Stadium was built. Chelsea ran out 1-0 winners courtesy of a Kevin Wilson goal in the first half. Their only other visit to Brighton came a few years before when Kerry Dixon bagged a brace in a 2-1 win. That means Chelsea have a 100% record away at Brighton in competitive fixtures and they’ll be looking to continue that on Saturday.
In fact, in each of their five competitive meetings, Chelsea have come out on top with their last matchup coming just a few weeks ago. Alvaro Morata and Marcos Alonso scored the goals as Chelsea won 2-0 on Boxing Day.
It’ll be a big day for Michy Batshuayi who gets his first start in the Premier League since that defeat to Crystal Palace at Selhurst in October. Chelsea have only lost once since then and are keeping clean sheets galore recently so if they can get on the scoresheet at the Amex, they should hold out for all three points.