chelsea-vs-brighton-preview:-blues-sweating-on-kante

Chelsea vs Brighton preview: Blues sweating on Kante

Team news, stats and prediction ahead of Chelsea vs Brighton in the Premier League on Wednesday; kick-off 7.30pm.

Team news

Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel must decide on whether to start striker Romelu Lukaku after his goalscoring return off the substitutes’ bench in the 3-1 win over Aston Villa.

Lukaku has been blighted by an ankle injury and then Covid-19 since October and while Tuchel was delighted with his impact, he said it was “not fair” to force him back into action for a full half.

Tuchel admitted his celebrations at Villa Park were tempered because of his concerns surrounding his players’ health, having also lost N’Golo Kante and Thiago Silva to injury – and both are set to miss the Seagulls encounter.

Ben Chilwell (knee) remains out while Kai Havertz (match fitness), Timo Werner (illness) and Ruben Loftus-Cheek (ankle) will be assessed.

Brighton must wait to discover if influential forward Leandro Trossard will be fit for their Premier League trip to Stamford Bridge.

The Belgium international set Albion on course for the 2-0 Boxing Day win over Brentford with a delightful volley before being withdrawn at the break due to a hamstring issue.

Seagulls head coach Graham Potter described the substitution as precautionary but is unsure whether key man Trossard will be available for Wednesday’s visit to Stamford Bridge.

Danny Welbeck – who replaced Trossard – and Steven Alzate came on in the second period following three-month absences and will be pushing for starts.

How to follow

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A look at some of the stats surrounding matchweek 20’s Premier League fixtures

Follow Chelsea vs Brighton in our dedicated live match blog. Highlights will also be published on the Sky Sports digital platforms and the Sky Sports Football YouTube channel shortly after full-time.

Last time out…

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Chelsea’s win over Aston Villa

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Brighton’s win over Brentford

Jones Knows prediction

I’m very pro-Brighton in this one. The market is far too skewed towards Chelsea, who can be well left alone at 4/11 with Sky Bet. This should be a very tactical affair with both teams vying to control the game through possession and expert organisation at the back where chances are hard to come by for the opposition. That is seen through both teams defensive processes over the past 12 months in the Premier League. If you run the numbers since Thomas Tuchel was appointed in January, Chelsea (0.8) and Brighton (1.02) sit second and third respectively in the expected goals against per 90 minute charts with only Manchester City (0.7) faring better.

It’s that defensive structure shown from Brighton that is providing the platform for them to consistently trouble the top-ranked teams in the Premier League. The 2-2 draw with Liverpool at Anfield from earlier this season being a perfect example. The big caveat with Brighton is that they are a very untrustworthy team in front of goal which does make the outright away win hard to fancy in this one despite 8/1 with Sky Bet being available.

However, in their last 23 games against teams that finished in the top-nine of the Premier League last season, Brighton have only lost three games by more than one goal. Included in that run was a 0-0 draw at Stamford Bridge last season where Graham Potter’s men had more shots and corners than their top-four chasing hosts. That means I’m more than happy to back Brighton with a 2 handicap goal start, meaning we’ll win if Brighton win, draw or lose by one goal.

SCORE PREDICTION: 0-0

BETTING ANGLE: Brighton 2 handicap (4/6 with Sky Bet)

Opta stats

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Graham Potter speaks after Brighton’s 2-0 win over Brentford that stopped a 12-game winless run for the Seagulls.

  • Chelsea have never lost a league game against Brighton, winning 10 and drawing two of their 12 games. It’s the most the Blues have faced an opponent without ever losing in their league history.
  • Brighton have never scored in six away league games against Chelsea (D1 L5), with last season’s 0-0 draw their first ever point at Stamford Bridge. In English Football League history, only two sides have ever faced a side more often on the road without scoring – Bradford Park Avenue vs Leyton Orient (8) and Barrow vs Northampton Town (7).
  • Having lost eight of their first 12 Premier League away games in London (W2 D2), Brighton have lost just three of their last 13 visits to the capital in the competition (W2 D8).
  • Brighton have never led in eight Premier League meetings with Chelsea. In the competition’s history, only two sides have faced another more without leading for a single minute – Sheffield United against Manchester City (10) and Portsmouth against Chelsea (14).
  • Chelsea have lost their final league game in just one of the last 18 calendar years (W12 D5), losing 3-1 at home to Aston Villa in 2011.
  • Brighton lost their final league game of 2020 (0-1 vs Arsenal), last losing such games in consecutive calendar years in 2011 and 2012.
  • Chelsea have shipped five goals in their last four Premier League home games, more than they had in their previous nine combined (4). The Blues haven’t gone five league games without a clean sheet at Stamford Bridge since April 2017.
  • Brighton have lost just once away from home in the Premier League this season (W2 D5), having lost each of their last three on the road in the 2020-21 campaign. However, the Seagulls are winless in their last six away league games, having won their first two this season.
  • Chelsea have scored 3 goals in nine different Premier League games so far this season, with only Liverpool (10) doing so more often than the Blues.
  • Chelsea midfielder Jorginho has scored 10 Premier League penalties in 2021, a record in a single calendar year in the competition. Meanwhile, of players to have netted at least 10 Premier League goals, the Italian has scored the highest share from the penalty spot (89% – 17/19).