PMB: Brighton v Chelsea - tactics
news Sat 20 Jan 2018
We conclude our Pre-Match Briefing for today's Premier League game in Sussex...
• Chelsea have the second-best track record on the road in the Premier League this season.
• The big team news this weekend is that Pedro and Alvaro Morata are suspended (both for one match). However, January window signing Ross Barkley could make his debut for the Blues. Coincidentally the attacking midfielder made his Championship debut with loan club Sheffield Wednesday at the Amex Stadium in September 2012, just a few weeks after Chelsea had played a pre-season friendly there.
• While the likes of Thibaut Courtois, Andreas Christensen, Toni Rudiger, Victor Moses, Marcos Alonso, N’Golo Kante and Eden Hazard may return to the starting line-up, Gary Cahill and Cesc Fabregas need to overcome hamstring problems.
• Hazard starred in the champions’ 2-0 victory over Albion in December and should be refreshed after sitting out most of Wednesday’s cup win before netting the winning penalty.
• Using the 3-5-2 formation against the Seagulls’ defensive 4-5-1, the Blues managed 25 attempts on Mat Ryan’s goal. Without Morata, Antonio Conte may switch to 3-4-3 and have Willian, Hazard and midweek goalscorer Michy Batshuayi upfront, with Barkley an option from the bench.
• The Italian will also have to factor in Wednesday’s Carabao Cup semi-final second leg at Arsenal, whose line-up may be strengthened by players returning from injury. The first leg ended 0-0.
• Brighton produced arguably their most disappointing performance of the season against West Bromwich Albion last time out, and are yet to claim a point from one of the Premier League’s top six as they approach their 150th league game at the Falmer Stadium.
• Chelsea must be ready to take advantage of any chances arising in the goal area. Corners undid the Sussex team last weekend and earned the Baggies’ their first win under Alan Pardew. The Seagulls have by far the worst record of goals conceded at set-pieces – the source of 16, or 57 per cent, of their total.
• Pascal Gross is Brighton’s top performer going forward with four goals and five assists.
• Only Swansea (seven) and Watford (six) have conceded more times in the last quarter-hour at home than Albion’s five. Only Liverpool and the Manchester clubs have netted more than Chelsea’s five in that same time period on the road.
• The opening goal might also prove crucial: neither the Seagulls at home, nor the Blues away have come back to win after conceding first in the league.
Old Boy Blues
• Steve Sidwell (who is currently injured for Brighton) was part of the 2007/08 Chelsea squad that finished runners-up in the Champions League and League Cup, scoring in a 4-0 win at Hull.
Gary Cahill (hamstring)
Cesc Fabregas (hamstring)
Alvaro Morata (one match)
Pedro (one match)
Steve Sidwell (back)
Ezequiel Schelotto (knock)