Chelsea are facing a difficult task on Saturday as they are travelling to take on Brighton at the Amex Stadium. The Seagulls are a much fiercer opposition when they are at home and they will be looking to cause an upset on Sunday. It is important that the visitors show a consistency in their performance after an excellent victory over Manchester City last weekend.
Brighton have had a good start to the season and have established themselves in a strong position to avoid a relegation fight. They are in 13th position with an eleven-point gap to the bottom three. It is far from the job done, but Chris Hughton will be delighted at the position that his team is in. Last weekend was a disappointment as they lost to a struggling Burnley team, but they can approach this weekend with a positive attitude. They have nothing to lose and, on their day, they can pose problems for the top six teams in the division.
The last few weeks have shown the different sides to Chelsea. They were poor against Wolves and were punished for their lack of game management. It was a game that they should have been looking to win considering the poor form of the opposing side at the time. They followed that up with an excellent but surprising win over Manchester City. The current champions were unbeaten in the league, but they were outplayed by Maurizio Sarri’s side. It is difficult to get a firm reading of this Blues team, but there is no denying that they can beat any other team on their day. The task for Sarri is to make sure that they perform like that a lot more often than they currently are.
Chris Hughton has failed to win any of his last eight meetings with Chelsea as a manager.
Chelsea have used only 20 players in the Premier League this season. Only Wolves (18) have used fewer.
The Brighton defender had emerged this season and worked his way into the England set-up. During his first Premier League season, he was considered one of the better defenders outside of the top six and his reputation continues to grow. He grew up at Brighton and has played a huge role in their rise to be a Premier League club. They are usually reliable at the back and they will be looking to keep Chelsea out at the Amex to ensure they have a chance of taking something from the game. Dunk will be key to that, as shown by his defensive contribution this season. The centre-back averages 2 ball recoveries and 6.5 clearances per game. In addition to that, he poses a threat from set pieces, scoring two goals already this season
After an explosive start, Hazard’s performances have waned due to a combination of injuries and a lack of support. However, he got two assists last weekend during the victory over Manchester City and it could be enough to push him on to greater things over the coming weeks. It is going to be an important festive period in the Premier League and it provides an opportunity for the Belgian to show why he should be considered as the best player in the division. That is how Hazard views himself and it is time to back that up with some strong showings. This is going to be a difficult test of Chelsea, similar to the Wolves game and they need their best players to stand up to be counted. Brighton are solid at the back, but they can struggle to deal with flair players and Hazard fits that description. It is a great chance for him to get back to scoring ways.
Glenn Murray is available to start after recovering from his shoulder injury. Alireza Jahanbakhsh is back in the squad, but Shane Duffy is still suspended.
Alvaro Morata is a doubt with a knee injury, while Mateo Kovacic won’t be available for the visitors. Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Ross Barkley will be in direct competition to take the Croatian’s place.
This is a big test for Chelsea as they must show that they can go away from home and dispatch of a team in the bottom half of the table. They didn’t show their superiority at Wolves and were punished for it. A similar result this weekend would be a disaster, considering the performance and result against Manchester City. I am expecting them to run out comfortable winners. After a defeat to Burnley, Brighton could be set for a difficult period and it would be a surprise if they took anything from the match against the Blues.