Chelsea face Brighton & Hove Albion in a couple of hours with the pressure on the Blues to reduce the 5-point gap with Tottenham Hotspur. The Lilywhites eked out a win against Burnley yesterday to go 5 points clear of Chelsea but have played a game more.
Maurizio Sarri’s side, on the other hand, are coming on the back of a fantastic week which saw them end Manchester City’s unbeaten run this season and condemn the Sky Blues to a shock 0-2 loss. The London side proved that City are not invincible thus throwing the title race wide open. But they have to back that up with a series of wins of their own.
Chelsea’s form had hit a few bumps in recent weeks prior to the game against the champions. Before that, the London Blues had won just 1 out of 4 matches, losing 2 and drawing 1. Hence, the newfound momentum has to be maintained and Sarri will not settle for anything less than 3 points today.
They face a Brighton side currently 13th in the league table with 21 points from 16 matches. The home side are also undefeated in 9 of their last 10 matches in their own backyard.
CHELSEA TEAM NEWS
Alvaro Morata is a fitness concern and is unlikely to feature after picking up a knock in midweek. Mateo Kovacic is also a doubt having picked up an injury last week against City.
PREDICTED CHELSEA LINEUP VS BRIGHTON & HOVE ALBION (4-3-3)
Kepa Arrizabalaga will return in goal after a rest in the Europa League fixture. The Spaniard kept a welcome clean sheet against the best attack in the league. And he will back himself to keep another one against Brighton.
Cesar Azpilicueta and Marcos Alonso should be making returns to their respective fullback positions. The central defensive duo of David Luiz and Antonio Rudiger will also reclaim their rightful places in the lineup. Luiz popped up with the second goal against City and will be brimming with confidence.
Jorginho and Kante look nailed-on starters. But Sarri will have to decide between Barkley and Loftus-Cheek. Both of them played the 90 minutes against Vidi but at least one of them look likely to get a start again. We are backing Ruben Loftus-Cheek to get the nod ahead of the others.
Eden Hazard led the line last week in the league but Sarri might use him on the wing today. Olivier Giroud looks likely to start and he will be key to exploiting Brighton’s weakness in the air. Pedro and Willian will be jostling for a start on the right but Pedro is likely to get the nod.