The first game of the new decade is here and for Chelsea, that game is a trip to the Amex Stadium to face Brighton on New Year’s Day. Following a late show in North London, Chelsea will be looking to start the new year in good stead – finding a way to bridge the gap between stuttering performances and consistency.
On the other hand, the home side will be hoping for something to simply go their way. Their last five performances have seen them perform very well as Graham Potter has really managed to imprint his style and culture on the The Seagulls’. Solid performances have seen them win two games, draw two and lose two. However, they have all been tightly fought games and Chelsea will have to be at their very best to start the new decade with a win.
With back to back away wins against our North London rivals, you’d have thought this would represent a successful Christmas period. However, throw in the losses to Everton, Bournemouth and Southampton and out of the last six games, Chelsea have only taken nine points. Luckily, results from elsewhere have meant that they are four points clear of fifth place (Manchester United)
Chelsea’s home form is the main area in need of improvement right now, but the away form has certainly been indisputable. Currently, they have the second best away record in the league and have scored 69% of their Premier League goals this season away from home.
Frank Lampard will be hoping Chelsea can follow in the footsteps of recent travels to Brighton, as Chelsea have won there under Antonio Conte and last season under Maurizio Sarri. Chelsea’s fortunes surely will be better placed with Jorginho in midfield; as the Italian changed the game against Arsenal allowing the Blues to get back on the ball and in control of the game.
After his substitution in the 34th minute, Chelsea dominated possession from then on and he also won the free kick in which he tapped in from for the equaliser. Having been left out of games recently, this performance has certainly shown his quality and his importance to this Chelsea team.
Brighton head coach revealed no new injury concerns as the pair of wingers including Solly March and Jose Izquierdo remain unavailable due to injuries.
With the Chelsea squad, Reece James and Marcos Alonso are not expected to be fit for the game. Captain Cesar Azpilicueta has also been carrying a minor problem through his recent games therefore it remains to be seen whether he will play through the issue against Brighton.
However, good news includes that Christian Pulisic is ‘100% healthy’ following his absence from the matchday squad that travelled to Arsenal. Long term absentee Ruben Loftus-Cheek will return in the new year, but return dates are not confirmed as of yet.
- Chelsea have won all nine of their league meetings with Brighton – the best such 100% record in English league history.
- Brighton have never won a Premier League match in January, losing five and drawing three of eight matches.
- Neal Maupay has been directly involved in more Premier League goals this season than any other Brighton player, scoring seven and assisting one.
- Tammy Abraham’s 12 Premier League goals have been worth 12 points to his side, a joint-league high in the current campaign.
- Eight of Abraham’s goals have been scored away – he can become the first Englishman to score nine top-flight away goals for Chelsea in a season since Kerry Dixon in 1989-90.
With such an impressive away record, it would seem Chelsea would be favourites to win again away from home against Brighton. Defeating Tottenham and Arsenal in successive away games has shown different qualities from this Chelsea team. Tenacity, quality and discipline against Spurs; whilst the win against Arsenal showcased desire, teamwork and in game management from both the players and the manager.
Brighton have managed two wins and five losses against the so called ‘top six’ this season. With their wins coming against teams struggling at the time such as Tottenham at home and Arsenal away. Chelsea should be able to control the midfield with Jorginho starting and come away with the three points to kick off the new decade.
Wednesday 1st January
Brighton vs Chelsea
Kick off: 12:30 UK time