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Preview: Chelsea vs. Brighton & Hove Albion - prediction, team news, lineups
29/12/2021 16:18:33

Chelsea will aim to keep the pressure on title-chasing Liverpool and Manchester City when they welcome Brighton to Stamford Bridge on Wednesday.

The Blues marched to a 3-1 triumph over Aston Villa on Boxing Day, while Graham Potter's side eased to a 2-0 win over Brentford.

We say: Chelsea 2-1 Brighton

Brighton certainly are a tough nut to crack away from home, and the Seagulls may feel that Wednesday provides the prime opportunity to end their barren scoreless run in this fixture.

Tuchel's side have been far from convincing at Stamford Bridge in recent weeks and continue to be bedevilled by fitness woes, but the bountiful options for change should help to settle a tight contest in Chelsea's favour.

Match preview

Chelsea's Boxing Day success at Villa came at quite the cost, with Thomas Tuchel joining his fellow top-flight managers in bemoaning the hectic schedule as two of his experienced stalwarts once again entered the treatment room.

Two penalties from Jorginho either side of Romelu Lukaku's header ultimately cancelled out Reece James's own goal to propel Chelsea to a vital three points at Villa Park, but witnessing Thiago Silva and N'Golo Kante being forced off was not a pleasant sight for the Blues boss.

However, having returned to winning ways in the Premier League, Chelsea have moved level on points with second-placed Liverpool - who have played a game fewer - but Man City are still riding off into the sunset at the top of the pile.

Even with their enviable squad depth, it has been a struggle for this depleted Chelsea side to truly assert their dominance in the top flight - winning just two of their last five in the division - while three of their last four home encounters have ended with the spoils shared.

Furthermore, not since the 7-0 thumping of Norwich City back in October have Chelsea kept a Premier League clean sheet on home soil, and a reinvigorated Brighton outfit ought to feel confident of prolonging that streak in midweek.

Prior to the visit of Thomas Frank's Brentford, Brighton's winless run stood at 12 games in all competitions and 11 in the Premier League, with the Seagulls seeing their wings clipped after such a positive start to proceedings.

The Amex faithful had been restless for a while, but the home crowd finally had something to cheer as their side came up trumps in a 2-0 Boxing Day success over the Bees, with Leandro Trossard and Neal Maupay both scoring eye-catching goals.

Brighton fans were forced to wait over three months for another Premier League victory - one which has seen the South Coast outfit move back into the top half of the table - but ending their dismal streak on the road will be a whole different kettle of fish.

While Chelsea have developed an affinity for one-pointers on home soil, five of Brighton's last six away encounters in the top flight have seen the spoils shared, and the visitors have prevailed in just two of their last 13 on the road in the top flight.

Ironically, Chelsea and Brighton played out a goalless stalemate when the sides met amid the European Super League debacle back in April, but the Seagulls are without a goal in six away league matches versus the European champions.

Team News

Chelsea duo Silva and Kante are sure to miss out on Wednesday following their Boxing Day injuries, with the pair joining long-term absentee Ben Chilwell on the sidelines.

There is slight hope that Ruben Loftus-Cheek may make a timely return to the squad, but COVID-affected pair Kai Havertz and Timo Werner both remain doubtful.

In brighter news, Mateo Kovacic came through another substitute outing unscathed at the weekend, and the Croatian midfielder could now be deemed ready for a start.

As for Brighton, Leandro Trossard was hooked at half time in the Brentford win after opening the scoring in style, with Potter admitting that the Belgian had felt tightness in his hamstring.

The visitors are already without Jeremy Sarmiento, Lewis Dunk and Steven Alzate for the Chelsea contest, while Joel Veltman is also a doubt, but Yves Bissouma is back from a ban.

The Mali international will expect to come straight back into the engine room this week, but it would be harsh to see Enock Mwepu dropped, so Jakub Moder could make way instead.

Chelsea possible starting lineup:

Mendy; Azpilicueta, Christensen, Rudiger; James, Jorginho, Kovacic, Alonso; Ziyech, Mount; Lukaku

Brighton possible starting lineup:

Sanchez; Lamptey, Webster, Burn, Cucurella; Bissouma, Lallana, Mwepu; Mac Allister; Welbeck, Maupay

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