Chelsea will be hoping to continue their unbeaten streak under Graham Potter when they travel to the Amex Stadium to face Brighton.
Graham Potter is unbeaten after nine games with Chelsea and will head to his former employers off the back of a 2-1 win over RB Salzburg in the Champions League. A dramatic 1-1 draw with Man United at Stamford Bridge last weekend means the Blues are seven points adrift of league leaders Arsenal.
As for Brighton, Roberto de Zerbi is still looking for his first win since replacing Potter at the Amex Stadium. He is yet to win any of the five games so far despite the Seagulls playing well, especially against Tottenham and Nottingham Forest.
With a fascinating game on the cards in Sussex, let us take a look at the key battles that could decide the result at the weekend.
#Pervis Estupinan vs Cesar Azpilicueta
Roberto de Zerbi has used Leandro Trossard as a left wing-back in the last couple of games, and while he has done well, there will be an inclination that Trossard should play in a more advanced role to influence Brighton’s attacks. That said, he could put Trossard behind the main striker Danny Welbeck and start Pervis Estupinan at left wing-back against Chelsea.
Estupinan has had a mixed start to life at Brighton, with his defensive lapses being exploited by opposition forwards already. He must take his chances when offered by the manager, and there is no better way than putting in a big performance against Chelsea.
If Chelsea operate with a back three, chances of Cesar Azpilicueta starting at right wing-back are high. Solid and reliable, Azpilicueta will use his experience to deal with the threat of Estupinan while stretching the opposition down the right.
Thus, the battle between Estupinan and Azpilicueta will be one to keep an eye on.
#Mason Mount vs Moises Caicedo
Mason Mount has been sensational for the Blues since Potter has taken over from Thomas Tuchel. He has been a key cog in a versatile and fluid system that Potter has used so far at Stamford Bridge.
Utilised in an attacking midfield position that has seen him influence a lot of Chelsea’s attacks, Mount has been revitalised. Truly, the England international has become central to the way Potter wants his team to play.
Lining up for Brighton against Mount will likely be Moises Caicedo, who is enjoying a brilliant season himself. Caicedo has forged a stable partnership with Alexis Mac Allister in the double pivot, helping tick things in midfield for Brighton.
Starting in a deeper role, the Ecuadorian will be aiming to stop Mount from picking pockets of spaces behind the opposition. If Caicedo can succeed in taming the Chelsea midfielder, it will go a long way to giving De Zerbi’s side the upper hand at the weekend.
#Leandro Trossard vs Thiago Silva
Leandro Trossard has been Brighton’s standout player in the last couple of seasons, and it is not a surprise to see him being linked with top European clubs ahead of the January transfer window.
The diminutive Belgian scored his sixth Premier League goal of the season in Brighton’s 3-1 defeat at Man City last weekend, taking his season’s goal involvements tally to eight in 11 games with two assists. At the weekend, Trossard could find himself in a more attacking role against Chelsea from where he can terrorise the defenders.
Chelsea’s defensive pillar, Thiago Silva must be wary of being drawn out of his defensive line by the Brighton playmaker, who is more than capable of slipping in Danny Welbeck or Pascal Gross to exploit the open space. The veteran Brazilian centre-back must use all his experience to stop an in-form Trossard from hurting Chelsea.