Chelsea haven’t managed to put together a strong defence of their title, but they have a good opportunity to make ground this weekend against relegation-threatened Brighon. The Seagulls went through a bad run, but they managed to pick up the three points this weekend against Watford at a crucial time. Pascal Gross has been an underrated signing and he has given the Seagulls a great chance of achieving success in the current campaign.
The Blues were expected to challenge for the title again this season and that looks unlikely at the time of writing. Manchester City have been the runaway leaders of the Premier League and they don’t look like they are going to drop off anytime soon. Antonio Conte did excellently during his first campaign in England, but he was never likely to deliver a long-term success in the Premier League. It is the most difficult division to deliver success on a consistent basis. This season is going to give a big indication of what the club is destined for over the next few seasons. A win this weekend is important.
Brighton will have viewed this season with a sense of apprehension and their current position will bring some concerns, but their win over Watford has given the club a cushion of safety. It is difficult to be a promoted club, but they have had some really good performances and are currently outside of the relegation zone. For a newly-promoted club, that is a good position to be in, but the second half of the season is difficult and this fixture will be difficult to negotiate.
Chelsea have the second best defence in the Premier League after conceding only 14 during the first half of the season.
Brighton have gained 21 points from the first-half of the Premier League season, which placed them in 12th position. A repeat will see them remain in the top-flight.
The former Real Madrid striker is going to come back with a point to prove after a suspension that was utterly avoidable. He will return to action this weekend and he will want to play a part in the result. It will be a match that he is expected to perform in and that is a lot of pressure. Everton have been very good since the appointment of Sam Allardyce in terms of results, but they haven’t been great in their performance levels. The most recent result will have been a disappointment for the current Champions. During the first half of the season, he has contributed nine goals and four assists. For a new player to the Premier League, that is a good return. He will be important this weekend as Antonio Conte has no other strikers that he can rely upon. Morata is an intelligent player that can create opportunities for himself. That is what the Blues need at the time of writing. There will be chances for the Spaniard on Boxing day.
It was always going to be an uphill battle for the Seagulls to remain in the Premier League. The last few weeks have been difficult, but they managed to secure a crucial three points against Watford. The Hornets had been an early surprise package, but recent results had seen them drop down the table. His record of four goals and five assists is excellent for a player operating him a team that have recently been promoted. It was important that Brighton were smart in their recruitment process and they were with Gross. He has the potential to play in the Premier League for the foreseeable future. Brighton will be hoping that it is with them.
Alvaro Morata will be available again after suspension. He is likely to start the match up front for the Blues. Cesc Fabregas and Davide Zappacosta could feature if the champions opt to make changes. David Luiz remains on the sidelines, while Charly Musonda will be missing with a groin injury.
Shane Duffy will be back for the visitors after suspension. Izzie Brown will be unavailable through suspension. The only other missing player will be Steve Sidwell as he continues to struggle with a knee injury.
This is going to be a difficult test for Chelsea. They need to get a victory to get their season back on track. The league title remains an unlikely goal, but they have the quality to have a much better second half to the season. The likes of Alvaro Morata and Eden Hazard should be doing a lot better than they currently are. Brighton are a good team, but they won’t have enough to seriously challenge Chelsea on Boxing Day. This should be a straightforward home win.