Chelsea’s Boxing Day fixture this year sees them clash with Brighton at Stamford Bridge. As the Blues look to wrap up a fantastic 2017 with some strong results in the league, they will hope to strengthen their position in the top four. With a real battle for the Champions League spots shaping up this season, no top side can afford to be in poor form for long. With a favourable run of games to finish the year, the Blues will be expecting to come though the final weeks of 2017 in a strong position. However, they can’t underestimate a newly promoted side.
Antonio Conte and his team are looking to balance the needs of four competitions heading in to January, with the FA Cup Third Round and EFL Cup semi-finals coming up. Whilst the Champions League is on hold over winter, this is a much busier campaign than last time out, giving the season a very different feel. While expectations have been lowered this time around, the champions are still out for a strong campaign. With plenty of huge games coming up over the next few weeks, this is a pretty exciting time for all Chelsea fans.
However, it is quite difficult to simply focus in on the clash with Brighton when there are five big matches against Arsenal and Barcelona coming up on the horizon. Ahead of those tests, the champions need to prove themselves against the Seagulls.
Team News: Rotation Could be Needed to Keep Blues Fresh
Antonio Conte’s full scale rotation in the EFL Cup in midweek might give us an insight into his thoughts for the Christmas period. However, it’s hard to see him going for such wide ranging rotation in a Premier League game. The Blues tried their best to manage 11 players across their festive fixtures last year, but things have massively changed in terms of the demands on the schedule for Conte’s side. With so many games already played and big ones to come, changes are likely in this game.
We expect Conte to make the most of his squad in the winter weeks, with the Blues likely needing to switch things up between games. However, the reliance the team has on Alvaro Morata and Eden Hazard means those two are likely to feature, as the champions just don’t look good enough without those two in attack. Elsewhere, Conte has enough options to make changes, with alterations very likely across the backline.
Brighton’s only big injury absence is former Chelsea man Steve Sidwell, who is expected to be sidelined for this one. The visitors are unlikely to make a switch away from their usual formation here, having started with a 4-2-3-1 across most of their outings. Chris Hughton doesn’t seem to be too keen on making big changes ahead of this game, so we’re expecting him to stick with their regular side.
Brighton head here with a long wait for an away win, as they haven’t won on the road since a trip to Swansea. The Seagulls aren’t too bad on their travels this term as they have been taking advantage of poor sides away from home this term. However. the visitors haven’t quite done enough to suggest they can pose any real threat to the Blues in this Boxing Day clash. They’ve suffered a string of defeats since jumping up to the top flight, and it’s hard to see them adapting well to playing against the side who finished top of the league last term.
Their away results have been mixed really, with their wins on the road having come at sides below them in the table. Meanwhile, they’ve lost every clash away to a top eight side during this campaign, most of those without even managing to score a goal. With their forwards not really delivering, we expect the Seagulls to slip up here.
Chelsea v Brighton Head to Head
The sides have met just a handful of times over the years with Chelsea dominating overall. The Blues have six wins and just one loss from their eight meetings with Brighton.
- Brighton 0-1 Chelsea, Mar 1989
- Chelsea 2-0 Brighton, Oct 1988
- Chelsea 1-0 Brighton, Dec 1983
- Brighton 1-2 Chelsea, Sep 1983
- Brighton 0-2 Chelsea, Jan 1973
- Chelsea to win and over 2.5 goals – 4/5 with Ladbrokes
- Eden Hazard to score any time – 19/20 with Coral
Chelsea come into this clash as heavy favourites across the board. The Blues are clearly fancied to beat the Premier League newcomers, as they’re priced up at 1/5 with Betfred to take the points in this Boxing Day clash. Meanwhile, Hughton’s Brighton are massive outsiders, coming in at 16/1 with Betfair. You can get 6/1 with BetVictor here on an unlikely draw for the Blues, but we aren’t backing against them in this one. This should be a straightforward home win for Conte’s men, so we’re looking elsewhere for our value on this game. Luckily, there appears to be a couple of alternative picks worth going for.
We have to look at a home win as part of the bet here, as the Pensioners should have little trouble adding to Brighton’s awful away record against the league’s best. The visitors just haven’t done enough on their travels to back up getting a result, while on current form the Blues could end up running away with this game. There’s enough talent within the ranks of the champions to record a crushing victory, and that has us going for a Chelsea win with over 2.5 goals to be scored in the match. That can be backed at 4/5 with Ladbrokes, and that seems like a good bet.
Hazard should get some much needed rest across Christmas, but we can’t see it being in this game. The Belgian hasn’t been as reliable in front of goal of late, but we think he’ll be able to carve out chances in this clash. The winger has been in great form in the Premier League this term and Chelsea are becoming increasingly reliant on him to find the back of the net. We’re backing Hazard to score any time here at 19/20 with Coral, which seems like a great value bet in a game where we fancy a comfortable home win.