Chelsea will be desperate to bounce back to winning ways in the Premier League on Sunday when they play hosts to Roberto de Zerbi’s Brighton and Hove Albion.
The Blues were subjected to a chastening 4-1 defeat at the hands of Newcastle United away last weekend, which ended their two-game unbeaten run in the Premier League. Having picked up just 16 points from 13 games, they lie 12 points adrift of the top four.
The West London club remain closer to the relegation zone than the Champions League spots points-wise, leaving Mauricio Pochettino under severe pressure. So, Pochettino will expect a rousing response from his boys against Brighton, who head to Stamford Bridge after advancing to the knockout rounds of the Europa League with a 1-0 win over AEK Athens on Thursday.
Chelsea Team News
Chelsea will have to make do without Reece James and Marc Cucurella for the visit of Brighton. James was sent off against Newcastle for two bookable offences, while Cucurella picked up his fifth yellow card in the Premier League this season.
As far as their injury list goes, Wesley Fofana (knee), Romeo Lavia (ankle), Trevoh Chalobah (thigh), Carney Chukwuemeka (knee), Ben Chilwell (thigh) and Christopher Nkunku (knee) are all set to miss out again, although the latter is closing in on his delayed competitive debut.
Predicted Chelsea lineup vs Brighton (4-2-3-1)
Despite his struggles, Robert Sanchez is expected to start in goal for Chelsea. He will need to produce a top performance to keep a clean sheet against his former employers.
With Reece James and Marc Cucurella both missing due to suspension, Mauricio Pochettino is expected to turn to Malo Gusto and Levi Colwill. Gusto should be fine to deputise for James at right-back, while Colwill should replace Cucurella on the opposite side of the defence.
Thiago Silva should not lose his place in defence despite his forgettable show at Newcastle last weekend, but Benoit Badiashile also struggles and could make way for Axel Disasi.
Moises Caicedo was only a substitute against Newcastle following his exploits with Ecuador but he should return to the starting XI against his former club, displacing Lesley Ugochukwu in the process. He will form the double pivot with Enzo Fernandez in the middle of the park, with Conor Gallagher bringing energy and tenacity from the No.10 role.
The Blues’ midfield trio must protect the backline adequately and use the ball well to carve open the Brighton defence.
Raheem Sterling, Nicolas Jackson and Cole Palmer’s spots in the Chelsea attack appear to be safe. Pochettino will hope the troika click up front and create endless problems for the Brighton defence.
Sterling scored a fantastic free-kick against Newcastle last weekend and will be keen to get on the scoresheet again. Jackson, who netted the winner in the EFL Cup against Brighton in September, should link up well with his fellow attackers and bring them into the game.
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