By 90Min
January 19, 2018

Champions Chelsea travel to the south coast to take on a out-of-form Brighton side who find themselves in the midst of a relegation battle. With just one win since the beginning of November, Chris Hughton's men desperately need points to maintain their place in mid-table.

Without a win in 2018 and on a run of five successive draws, the Blues are also looking to bounce back after a tough spell. Having unconvincingly come through their FA Cup replay with Norwich City in midweek - relying on penalties to do so - Antonio Conte will be looking for a reaction from his players. 

More importantly, the visitors need three points to keep pace with the two Manchester clubs and Liverpool, having slipped to fourth in the table on goal difference.


Recent Encounter

The two sides met just under a month ago at Stamford Bridge, for only the ninth time in their history, when Chelsea saw off the plucky travellers in a comfortable 2-0 victory.

BEN STANSALL/GettyImages

The Seagulls stood firm under immense pressure from the home side to go into the break level, but their resistance was broken one minute into the second period, when Cesar Azpilicueta crossed for Alvaro Morata to head home his tenth goal of the season.

It was another pair of Spaniards who sealed the victory later on in the second half, when Marcos Alonso met a Cesc Fabregas corner to double the west Londoners' advantage. 

The wing-back scored his fifth goal of the season already, cementing his record as the highest-scoring defender in the Premier League in 2017.


Key Battles


Bruno will have his work cut out on the right flank trying to contain Eden Hazard, with the Belgian perhaps looking to prove a point after a spell of bad form in recent weeks.

Pascal Gross - often the South Coast side's sole creative spark this term - will be tasked with providing good service to Glenn Murray, and will come up against the imperious N'Golo Kante patrolling the midfield. The German has three goals and five assists since his summer move from Ingolstadt.


Team News

Chris Hughton has no new injury worries, with only Steve Sidwell a long-term absentee. Jurgen Locadia is rumoured to be having a medical on Friday ahead of a switch to the Amex Stadium, but will not be available for the visit of the champions.

The Chelsea boss has Ross Barkley available, with the Englishman approaching full fitness and ready to play some part on Saturday.

Gary Cahill was taken off injured against Leicester City last weekend and will be assessed before the game, while Pedro and Alvaro Morata are suspended after their dismissals late on against Norwich in midweek.

Predicted Brighton Lineup: Ryan; Bruno, Duffy, Dunk, Bong; Propper, Stephens; Knockaert, Gross, Izquierdo; Murray.


Predicted Chelsea Lineup: Courtois; Azpilicueta, Christensen, Rudiger; Moses, Barkley, Kante, Alonso; Willian, Batshuayi, Hazard.


Prediction

Chelsea come into this game having not won since their New Year's Eve drubbing of Stoke, and desperately need to regain momentum. The Blues have struggled for goals in recent weeks and will be relying on Michy Batshuayi at the weekend; a player who has been linked with a move away this month.

P A S S I O N 💙 good night Blues

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Brighton also find themselves in a barren spell, but have largely been solid defensively at the Amex Stadium, and could prove very difficult for Chelsea to break down, with the visitors showing a complete lack of guile and invention in five successive draws in the New Year.

Ahead of the second leg of their Carabao Cup semi-final against Arsenal next week, Antonio Conte will be looking to enter that game on the back of a morale-boosting win, which they should achieve, with Eden Hazard and a potential debut for Ross Barkley surely overwhelming the Seasiders.

ADRIAN DENNIS/GettyImages

Prediction: Brighton 1-2 Chelsea

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