Chelsea return to Premier League action in this weekend’s opening match, which sees them head to Brighton. Their trip to the south coast is likely to be tricky, as the Blues are showing a few worrying signs in their top four push. With the sides around them strengthening and picking up form, could we see the champions left outside of the Champions League spots? That’s got to be the concern, as they can’t risk missing out on Europe’s top competition once again. Will they be able to return to top form when they head to Brighton this weekend?
Going up against a promoted team is obviously something that should boost the Blues, but this isn’t the easiest of trips. The South-coast outfit are well drilled, and they could pose a test here. We’ve seen the Blues have trouble on the road to sides who were far from in form, so going up against a difficult Seagulls side has to be a bit worrying. While many demand January signings, Conte also needs to re-jig the current approach.
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It’s hard to see what big change the Blues can make ahead of this clash, as they look to change things around. They’ve had an odd approach in their attacking play, desperately looking for Eden Hazard – who is also being targeting by the opposition. Despite that, the Belgian will obviously start here. They shouldn’t make too many big changes, although a switch back to the 3-4-3 formation would be largely welcomed. The midfield-heavy 3-5-2 does leave Hazard and Morata slightly stranded. Playing a creative talent like Fabregas alongside Kante would be useful, along with adding the directness of Pedro.
Former Blue Steve Sidwell won’t be appearing for Brighton any time soon, but aside from that the Seagulls come into this clash at full strength. It will be interesting to see how they shape up in the home meeting, given that the Stamford Bridge clash was only last month. This reverse of the Boxing Day meeting is a completely different challenge, so Brighton aren’t likely to vary the approach one which saw them lose 2-0 in the capital. They went with a 4-5-1 on that occasion, but that tends to be how they shape up at home. They did start with a 4-4-2 at home to Crystal Palace in their last home game, but we expect them to go for a 4-4-1-1 here instead.
Brighton are coming into this game on the back of a poor result, having just lost away to relegation rivals West Brom. The Baggies had been on a long winless streak before that victory, and yet the Seagulls ended up losing at the Hawthorns. However, their away form of late has been poor, as Chelsea can attest to given their recent encounter at the Bridge which Chelsea won 2-0.
That obviously doesn’t have a huge impact on Brighton’s home form, which has been very impressive for a side who have just made it into the Premier League. While the Seagulls can be accused of being a tad unadventurous, they should be seen as a side who are capable of causing sides problems on their own patch. They come into this one unbeaten in four games at home, and that is a run they’ll be out to extend.
Brighton v Chelsea Head to Head
The Blues have a solid recent record when it comes to meetings with Brighton. They’ve won their last seven clashes with the Seagulls heading into this game, and they’ll be out for an eighth successive victory. The only problem is, this run started long before the players were born. The first win in the sequence came during the 1960s, while their last meeting before this season came in the late 80s, before the Premier League came along and changed English football entirely.
- Chelsea 2-0 Brighton, Dec 2017
- Brighton 0-1 Chelsea, Mar 1989
- Chelsea 2-0 Brighton, Oct 1988
- Chelsea 1-0 Brighton, Dec 1983
- Brighton 1-2 Chelsea, Sep 1983
- Under 2.5 Goals – 8/11 with Betfair
- Draw – 33/10 with BetVictor
Despite Brighton having some solid home form, the Seagulls have been priced up as the 15/2 outsiders here with Betfred. Meanwhile, the Blues have been cut to a very short 4/9 with Coral. The draw is available here at 33/10 with BetVictor, while Brighton are available at 28/17 with Ladbrokes to simply avoid defeat against a Blues side who just aren’t scoring goals at the moment. There have to be major concerns for Antonio Conte coming into this one, and we’re taking that into account when it comes to our predictions on this match.
These two sides will both look to keep things solid at the back, which shouldn’t be too hard considering the pair are awful going forward. A string of 0-0 draws have left Chelsea slipping down the standings, while Brighton have averaged 0.74 goals per game in the league this season. The Seagulls haven’t exactly been the great entertainers in the top flight this term, with just 30% of their league matches seeing both teams score. With that in mind and the Blues’ recent woes in front of goal, we’re backing under 2.5 goals here at 8/11 with Betfair.
The Blues have been drawing all over the place in January, and that’s a run which could continue in this trip. The Seagulls have lost just twice at home this season, with both defeats coming against the league’s top two scoring sides. Aside from that they’ve drawn six times at home this term, and eight of their games have finished level this term. The Blues come here with just one defeat in their last 15 in the league, so we can’t see a home win. With the Blues seeing plenty of draws of late, a repeat seems to be really well priced at 33/10 with BetVictor.