Chelsea and Brighton & Hove Albion lock horns for the third time already since Mauricio Pochettino's arrival, with the teams having already met during pre-season and in the Carabao Cup.
On both of those occasions the Blues came out on top. We won a typically open summer encounter 4-3 stateside, and then defeated the Seagulls by a goal to nil when they visited the Bridge back in September.
Of course, the nature of those fixtures meant it was not either side’s first choice XI playing. Putting injuries and suspensions to one side – both skippers Reece James and Lewis Dunk will be absent, for example – the best of Chelsea and Brighton will face off this afternoon. Pochettino has identified where the game could be won and lost.
‘It’s clear Brighton want possession of the ball, but we want possession of the ball too,’ he said.
‘It’s about being effective and clinical in both areas. All that happens between the boxes is a distraction and is not so important like people believe. The most important area in football is the goal. The rest is smoke!
‘In different moments of the game we are going to press high, and maybe sometime block, and maybe go deep, or go for transition, counter-attacks. The score will have a big influence on how the teams play during the game.
‘But the most important thing is how we approach the game and show the quality,’ added Pochettino.
‘We need to improve and arrive in the best condition to compete against a team that is going to be tough because they are a good team. And it is our responsibility to create a good atmosphere with our attitude and energy for the game.’
Pochettino knows he can rely on Thiago Silva to showcase the attitude required. The Brazilian made a very rare mistake in the loss at Newcastle, but the head coach explained close man management is not required when it comes to Thiago because of his knowledge of the game.
‘All experienced players can affect in a positive way, helping the team and the younger players to deal better with a situation like what happened at Newcastle.
‘Experienced players can deal better with the pressure and deal more with the mistakes.
‘Thiago can deal with a mistake better. That helps because it is one player less to manage. We can be focused more on the younger players. That is the way he is helping us.’