Are Chelsea back? Well tonight we may find out. The Blues have started to look closer to their former self recently, with big wins against Brentford and Leeds creating cause for optimism. Still, being a top team is about consistency and it will take more than a couple of results for Chelsea to be taken seriously as title contenders again. Also, with Liverpool slipping up against Leicester, today’s game against Brighton could be a crucial opportunity for the Blues to show they can be taken seriously at the top end of the table.
Like Chelsea, Brighton goes into this one in reasonable, if slightly frustrating form. They picked up a win against Brentford in their previous Premier League match, but before that have drawn five out of seven games. At very least, that proves they’re difficult to beat, even if it probably makes for some difficult viewing. All things considered, both teams have drawn too many games and will be especially keen to finally get some wins under their belts.
Chelsea head into this one with some mixed team news. Timo Werner is still out with COVID and Thiago Silva looks likely to miss out with the minor hamstring injury he picked up against Aston Villa. Ben Chilwell will need surgery on his ACL so will miss this one and probably the rest of the season. Loftus- Cheek is also still a doubt. On the positive side, Ziyech is back in training, along with Christensen, Havertz and Kante although it’s unclear if the latter two will be ready to play.
Brighton will be without Lewis Dunk, Steven Alzate and Jeremy Samiento today. Graeme potter also described Trossard as being a slight doubt although Bissouma will definitely be available after serving a suspension.
This is an important match for Chelsea. The games will get significantly harder in the new year with fixtures against Liverpool and Manchester City coming in close succession. It’s possible that points will be dropped so it’s important to get these wins in now against the so called ‘lesser’ opposition. There is also a big opportunity here. Win today and Chelsea will pull ahead of Liverpool, into second place and within touching distance of Manchester City. Perhaps Chelsea are no longer title favourites, but there could still be chances to be competitive.
Ahead of the match, some of the writers at The Chelsea Social have shared their predictions:
Following our hugely important come-from-behind 3-1 victory against a recently resurgent Villains at Villa Park, I’m feeling cautiously optimistic about this match (despite the continued injury concerns we are plagued with). However, I’m cognisant Potter’s men secured a well-earned 2-0 win against a struggling Brentford and will be hoping to back up their efforts and build some positive momentum heading into the new year.
In analysing our opponents, it’s been a strange old time for them. They are clearly a very structured and quality football team who, similarly to Chelsea, play strong possession football but generally have had issues with their goal scoring (although that’s been less of an issue for us in recent times). Prior to their victory against the Bees, the Seagulls have struggled to be in the winner’s circle. Specifically, they hadn’t won since mid September in which they played 12 matches. Therefore, their 2-0 win against Brentford is sure to act as a huge morale-booster!
For the Blues, we have endured a typical topsy-turvy time during the festive season. With a loss against West Ham, and draws against a depleted Everton and Wolves, Chelsea have gone from being the hunted to the hunters (as star striker Romelu Lukaku so eloquently put it). 6 points behind front-runners and reigning Premier League champions Manchester City, but level on points with 2nd-placed Liverpool, Tuchel knows the margin for error is rapidly diminishing in terms of their title push.
From a player availability perspective, Tuchel advised Kanté is unlikely to feature as he re-injured his knee (similar to the pains he experienced against Juventus), while Loftus-Cheek and Werner remain unable to partake due to covid. Thiago Silva also pulled up with a hamstring injury against the Villains so he will be monitored to see if he can take part. Fortunately, Kovacic is working his way back into things and demonstrated how important he is during his cameo against Villa. Additionally, Kai Havertz has been back training and is hopeful of taking part against the Seagulls. Lastly, there’s been confirmation that Chilwell will require knee surgery (anterior cruciate ligament) and be out for the season. This should make for an intriguing January transfer window so that will be one to watch.
With that in mind, I would select the following line-up for the Blues to take on the Seagulls at Stamford Bridge: Mendy, Rudiger, Christensen, Chalobah, Pulisic, James, Jorginho, Kovacic, Hudson-Odoi, Lukaku, Mount. I would then look to bring on Havertz, Ziyech and keep a sub for insurance e.g. Azpilicueta/Alonso.
In short, we need to continue our mini resurgence following our back-to-back wins against Brentford in the EFL Cup and Villa in the League. A victory here maintains our reasonably close proximity to the top, a draw or loss extends that gap and also drags us closer to a top four battle which is what we are desperately looking to avoid.
Let’s hope we see a confident and composed display and crucial 3 points for Chelsea to round out a wild 2021!
Prediction: Chelsea 2 – 1 Brighton
Dan Hill (@idanknow05)
Chelsea head into the home game with Brighton in buoyant mood after two wins from their last two games. The performances of some younger players from the under-23s were encouraging against Brentford but more so was the return and impact of Romelu Lukaku in delivering the three points away to Aston Villa.
It has been a tough few weeks for Chelsea battling injuries, COVID absences and fixture congestion in addition to the customary, historical hoodoo of the month of December often serves. The crushing news that Ben Chilwell requires surgery on his ACL injury compounds the pain of the last few weeks as the England International is a vital part of all the good that Chelsea do.
Nevertheless, Thomas Tuchel will be the first to say that one cannot rest on grievances and there is a time where one has to deal with setbacks and forge a path forward. That begins against Brighton.
A team in relatively patchy form, their win at home to Brentford last time out was the first one in the league since matchweek 5. Always a team that passes the ball terrifically and generates their fair share of chances, Brighton are a team that have struggled to turn draws into wins and, in particular, have found difficulty against the top sides.
Nevertheless, it is not a team that should be taken lightly and, as Lukaku alluded to in his post-match interview at Aston Villa, this is the first of 19 finals to the end of the league season if Chelsea want to seriously contend for the league title.
All things being equal, this game should be dominated by Chelsea, but with Brighton looking to impose their possession based approached on their hosts. I feel the quality may be telling here but the Blues will need to ensure their attack clicks as the Brighton defense can be a resolute one.
It would be great to see Hudson-Odoi continue on the left next to Lukaku and Mason Mount up front. I’d expect Kovacic to make a comeback in midfield to partner Jorginho or Saùl if the Italian isn’t fit, with James and Alonso to flank them.
A defense of Azpilicueta, Christensen and Rudiger in front of Edouard Mendy should be strong enough to push Chelsea towards a positive result.
It would be great to see the Blues end off what has been an excellent year on a high. I back them to do just that.
Prediction: Chelsea 2-0 Brighton
Maria Dulce (@usernamedulce)
The Blues will finally play at Stamford Bridge after a three-game run on away grounds! Gladly, the team looks like it is gaining its consistency back now that most players are fit – having won twice in a row versus Brentford and Aston Villa. On the other hand, Brighton has won for the first time on Boxing Day, against Brentford, after a ten-game winless run.
Following Liverpool’s defeat to Leicester, Chelsea has just got an opportunity to secure top 2 before the new year. Regarding the starting XI, Lukaku is undeniably a must one. Being voted as man of the match while only being on the pitch for 45 minutes against Aston Villa, the Belgian proved his incredible influence with a goal and securing a penalty. Additionally, Kovacic is also a good shout to start. After all, he has also been highly influential in midfield, both with ball distribution and tackles.
Moreover, this could be the chance for Tuchel’s side to regain its solidity and assertiveness. Brighton is not an easy fixture at all – they have been able to secure several draws, even in clashes against Liverpool and West Ham. Hopefully, the Blues will score early in the game and make three points at home without conceding. Come on you Blues!
Prediction: Chelsea 2 – 0 Brighton
Home game against Brighton after beating Aston Villa away in what was a tough game, this is another test. I look at Brighton last season, we beat them away but drew to them at home in what was a dull game, albeit with the super league situation with the fan protest on that day.
Brighton are a good team. We all know the story with Brighton under Graham Potter, they create chances but similar to us, they struggle to convert them on a consistent basis. We can’t afford to give them clear cut chances so we need to make sure that we dominate this game. I’m sure we’ll rotate. Especially with Liverpool at the weekend, against Brighton, we will see the likes of Ziyech and Azpilicueta starting. But these players coming into the 11 have to prove a point tomorrow. They can’t be complacent and be missing clear cut opportunities.
We can’t afford to drop many more points with how good City have been throughout the season. Brighton will make it tough but this is a game we should be dominating in chance creation. A win against Brighton and it’ll put the players and fans in good spirit ahead of Liverpool.
Prediction: Chelsea 2-0 Brighton
In recent times, the Boxing Day fixture has caused Chelsea many an issue but the return of Romelu Lukaku inspired Chelsea to victory against Aston Villa and ensured they stayed within reach of Manchester City and Liverpool before they face them both in early January.
Similarly, Brighton are coming into this game on the back of a win, their first in the league since September 19 against Leicester.
It is that return of Lukaku that Chelsea will be hoping will kick them back into their early season form and also with both Jorginho and Kovacic back to full fitness, Thomas Tuchel’s options are more broad once again. With the high quality players back and those already involved playing well, a win should be in store for them.
Whereas for Brighton, Neil Maupay remains a threat up front terrorising defenders whilst Enock Mwepu is starting to show signs of the form that earnt him the move and he offers the Seagulls so many possibilities.
The most recent meeting between the sides ended in a 0-0 draw at Stamford Bridge that will be remembered more for the collapse of the Super League rather than the action on the pitch. However, this time around fans will be hoping it will be remembered for what happens on the pitch rather than off it.
Prediction: Chelsea 2-0 Brighton
Written by Chelsea Extra (@CFCExtra) with help from RJ, Dan, Maria, Vik & Harrison
Edited by Dan Hill
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