One of the stories of the weekend could come at the Amex Stadium, as Graham Potter takes his Chelsea team back to his former club. Brighton and Hove Albion are yet to win under their new manager, Roberto de Zerbi. It would mark a great occasion if they could get that victory over their former manager. Few blamed Potter for leaving the Seagulls for Stamford Bridge. He is now managing in the Champions League and has an opportunity to challenge for major honours. However, there will be an extra buzz in the air this weekend.
Brighton were spoken about as potential European contenders this season after a quick start under Potter. They have dropped to 9th, but there have been some promising performances under De Zerbi. The squad will still be adapting to his demands and this weekend offers a great opportunity to record a landmark victory. The issue has been scoring goals, but that is an issue that has persisted for years. In Italy, De Zerbi coached a very aggressive and high scoring Sassuolo team. The Seagulls will hope he is the right man to get them firing.
It has been a great first few weeks in charge for Potter, as Chelsea have yet to taste defeat under their new manager. Their position of 5th in the league will be a slight disappointment, but they are trending in the right direction. During the week, they confirmed their progression in the Champions League and that will have been received well. The short-term aim will be to move into the top four before the break for the World Cup break. This weekend offers a tough test, but Potter will not underestimate his former club.
Brighton have played Chelsea in 10 Premier League matches. They have never beaten the Blues.
Chelsea have scored 19 goals in the 10 Premier League matches against Brighton. They have not been behind in any of these meetings.
This season has been a great one so far for Leandro Trossard. He is emerging as the most important attackers for the Seagulls and Potter will be acutely aware of the threat posed by the Belgian international. The attacker will be keen to maintain his good form, as it will give him a chance of featuring prominently for his national team in Qatar. Most impressively, he has been scoring goals in big matches, with four goals in the away games against Liverpool and Manchester City. Trossard appears to thrive in matches against the top six, as he is afforded more space to operate in. There will be some concerns around Brighton that their current top scorer could be leaving in the near future. His contract expires at the end of the season and although there are rumours about a new contract, one hasn’t been agreed yet. Trossard has been linked to Chelsea and Newcastle United in recent weeks. If he continues to perform like he has been, the interest will not go away.
Brighton are one of the most energetic teams in the league. To beat them, you need to be dynamic in central areas. Potter left Mateo Kovacic out of the team last weekend, but quickly realised his error and brought him on before half-time to add energy in midfield. It would be unlikely that he repeats that error on Saturday. Kovacic should be one of the first names on the team-sheet, especially in the absence of N’Golo Kante. During the week, he showed that he can score goals, with an excellent strike to open the scoring in Austria against RB Salzburg. Kovacic is a very capable player in both halves of the pitch, and he helps to add balance to the Chelsea team. Brighton have an excellent midfield of Alexis Mac Allister and Moises Caicedo. It is important that the visitors can compete against them and not get bullied in these areas. Kovacic will be key to the Blues this weekend, if he is passed fit.
Adam Lallana and Joel Veltman are both doubts for Brighton. It will be hoped that both will be passed fit to feature this weekend. Kaoru Mitoma will not be available, but it is expected that he will be back before the break for the World Cup.
It is hoped that Kovacic and Kalidou Koulibaly will be fit to start. Wesley Fofana and Reece James won’t be available until after the World Cup.
This is a tough game to call. Brighton are a good team and can pose difficulties to the top six. They have already shown that on a few occasions this season. However, their poor historic record against Chelsea suggests they struggle in this fixture. The return of Potter so soon after leaving adds a layer of intrigue to the weekend’s fixture. A score draw could be a likely result, with neither team at full stride.
Brighton and Hove Albion 1-1 Chelsea