Chelsea welcome Brighton and Hove Albion to Stamford Bridge, as they attempt to qualify for next season’s Champions League. They would move into the top four with a win and that would put the Blues into a strong position ahead of the run in. Since their last league match, they have reached the semi-finals of the Champions League and the final of the FA Cup. This could be set to be one of the most successful seasons in the recent history of the club and Thomas Tuchel will be confident that they can finish strongly. Meanwhile, Brighton are still a couple of wins away from confirming survival and they will be relishing the opportunity to cause an upset.
It has been a superb few months for Chelsea, as they have quickly adapted to life under Tuchel. The success that the German has achieved shows that coaches are able to arrive mid-season and have an immediate impact. The decision to change to a 3-4-3 formation has allowed the Blues to become more solid at the back. There has been an issue in attack, but that is slowly improving as the players get used to the new style. Their victory over Manchester City looked to be a major landmark in their development.
Brighton have had another mixed season in the Premier League. There is no doubting Graham Potter’s quality as a coach, as he has transformed the playing style and the Seagulls are easy on the eye. However, they are just six points above the bottom three and they have been on the edge of a relegation battle since the season began. The next step is for the club to move into mid table and avoid another battle with the drop.
Since Thomas Tuchel’s first match in charge, Chelsea have kept 14 clean sheets in all competitions. No team in the top five European leagues has managed more.
Brighton have drawn 0-0 on five occasions this Premier League season. Only Manchester United have been involved in more goalless draws.
It has been a testing first season for Kai Havertz, as he has had to adapt to Premier League football. There are signs that he is beginning to find his feet under Tuchel, as his fellow compatriot has trusted him as part of his front three. He has been used in the central role, similar to a false nine and it is a role he performed well in the latter part of last season’s Bundesliga. Many supporters believe he is part of the first choice attacking trio, alongside Christian Pulisic and Mason Mount. Although Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech combined for the winning goal in the FA Cup, it is likely that Havertz will be recalled to the team to face Brighton. It is now important for the young German to find consistency. He was excellent in the previous league match against Crystal Palace as he got a goal and an assist, but he now needs to go on a run of good form in the final third. Brighton are a team that likes to play positively, which means there will be space for Havertz and it’s another opportunity to show his worth.
He is one of the most consistent and underrated defenders in the Premier League. Dunk has been one of the mainstays of the Brighton team since they were promoted. His leadership and aggression has been key in the Seagulls managing to stabilise at this level. Under Potter, he has taken his game to a new level, as he is reliable in possession and able to launch attacks. Meanwhile, at the back, he remains a rock at the heart of the defence. He will be vital in tracking the movement of the Chelsea attack, while his aerial quality will be key in both boxes.
Thiago Silva, Mateo Kovacic and Andreas Christensen are all doubts for the home side. Kepa Arrizabalaga could keep his place following a clean sheet in the FA Cup.
Percy Tau and Aaron Connolly are both doubts for the visitors, while Solly March remains a long term absentee.
Chelsea look to be an unstoppable force under Thomas Tuchel and they will be full of confidence after their cup exploits. They have a big enough squad to rotate and they are likely to do that to keep players fresh for the run-in. Brighton are a good team, but they lack the quality of top six opposition and that was the difference in their last outing against Manchester United. The home side should have enough to take the three points.