Title hopefuls Chelsea take on Brighton at Stamford Bridge in the Premier League on Wednesday, December 29th.
Fighting to avoid relegation, Brighton secured an important point at Stamford Bridge back in April, drawing 0-0 in their most recent meeting last season.
All in all, The Seagulls are yet to beat Chelsea in the English top-flight, losing six of their eight Premier League matches so far, but those two draws have come in their last three meetings.
Chelsea Betting Preview (-235 @ BetOnline)
The Blues will be keen to round off an unforgettable year with another victory, three days after a 3-1 comeback win at Aston Villa on Boxing Day.
Chelsea's holiday spirit has been disrupted due to an extensive coronavirus outbreak within the west London outfit. It looks like Thomas Tuchel's side have overcome their coronavirus struggles that sidelined some of their aces ahead of the busy festive schedule.
Unbeaten in their last six matches (3-3-0) – since a 3-2 defeat at London rivals West Ham earlier this month – Chelsea have lost momentum and are now six points behind league leaders Manchester City.
Chelsea dropped the top spot earlier this month and after some inconsistent games over the past couple of weeks, The Blues knew they will spend Christmas in third after the back-to-back draws with Everton and Wolves.
The upcoming Premier League match against Brighton will be the first of four consecutive matches at Stamford Bridge in the coming weeks (across three different domestic competitions) and their warm-up before a crucial league clash against rivals Liverpool on January 2.
Furthermore, after the clash against Liverpool as well as the Cup games next month, Chelsea will return to Premier League action against Manchester City at the Etihad on January 15 and Thomas Tuchel will desperately need more of the solid defending that his squad showed earlier in his tenure.
N’Golo Kante sustained his fourth injury of the season on Boxing Day during his third appearance since returning from his previous absence (a knee injury). Moreover, veteran Thiago Silva was forced off early in the second half at Villa Park and the Brazilian is a major doubt for Wednesday, but Tuchel won't take any risks with either of them, especially ahead of the Liverpool game.
Romelu Lukaku came off the bench against Villa to score his first Premier League goal since September, when the Belgian once again scored (this time a brace) against Aston Villa. However, Tuchel has been very cautious using Lukaku following his injury but the Belgian could be rewarded with a start against Brighton.
Meanwhile, it has been announced that England left-back Ben Chilwell could miss the remainder of the season, as he is likely to need knee surgery. Chilwell suffered anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) damage during his side's 4-0 Champions League victory against Juventus last month and there were initial hopes that he could recover without surgery.
Brighton Betting Preview (+750 @ BetOnline)
A first victory in 12 Premier League matches saw The Seagulls flying up to ninth in the Premier League and was their eighth league win at the Amex in 2021.
Graham Potter's side have finally ended their winless run when they earned a hard-fought 2-0 home win against Brentford in Boxing Day's late kick-off. Goalkeeper Robert Sanchez made a number of crucial saves, while Neal Maupay scored against his former club at the Amex Stadium.
It was Maupay's seventh league goal of the season and the Frenchman has now scored in three consecutive games. Maupay was one of the Brighton players who tested positive for coronavirus earlier this month but he extended his form after his isolation period.
With seven goals in 15 Premier League games this season, Maupay has an excellent chance to build on his best record (10 goals in 2019-20) since he joined Brighton.
Brighton, like their opponents, are suffering from injury and covid-related issues ahead of Wednesday's contest at Stamford Bridge.
Yves Bissouma is back available after missing Brighton's 2-0 win over Brentford through suspension. The Malian midfielder will join his national team for the Africa Cup of Nations next month, but he'll be available for the visits to Chelsea and Everton.
After a long injury layoff, Tariq Lamptey is enjoying first-team football again and will hope to start at right-back against his boyhood club.
However, a late decision will have to be made on Belgian attacker Leandro Trossard, who opened the scoring and came off at the break against Brentford with a tight hamstring (though Graham Potter revealed the move was precautionary), while versatile defender Joel Veltman is still a doubt after missing out on Boxing Day.
If Trossard is not fully fit to start against Chelsea in midweek, Danny Welbeck could be handed his first start since September. The former Manchester United and Arsenal striker was recovering from an injury to make his first appearance since the 1-1 draw at Crystal Palace (September 27) and he managed 45 minutes against Brentford at the weekend.
Lewis Dunk missed another game through injury as the captain is yet to play since a 1-1 draw at West Ham United four weeks ago. He could be sidelined for a few more weeks, but fellow defender Adam Webster recovered from a calf injury and should start alongside Dan Burn at center-back.
Experienced Irish defender Shane Duffy was absent from the matchday squad against Brentford as well (could be due to a positive coronavirus test), with Graham Potter making four changes to the starting XI. The likes of Adam Webster, Adam Lallana, Alexis Mac Allister and Neal Maupay replaced Joel Veltman, Solly March, suspended Yves Bissouma and Aaron Connelly, so Potter has options to reshuffle the pack.
Enock Mwepu produced a brilliant performance as the Zambia international started to reveal the potential which led the Seagulls to pay over £20 million for him from Red Bull Salzburg in the summer.
Adam Lallana, who captained the squad against Brentford, could make way for Yves Bissouma in the middle of the park.
Possible Starting Lineups of Chelsea and Brighton
Chelsea: Edouard Mendy – César Azpilicueta, Andreas Christensen, Antonio Rudiger – Reece James, Jorginho, Mateo Kovacic, Marcos Alonso – Mason Mount, Christian Pulisic – Romelu Lukaku. (3-4-2-1)
Brighton: Robert Sanchez – Tariq Lamptey, Adam Webster, Dan Burn, Marc Cucurella – Jakub Moder, Enock Mwepu, Yves Bissouma – Alexis Mac Allister – Danny Welbeck, Neal Maupay. (4-3-1-2)
Spooky Express Betting Prediction
Brighton have been involved in seven consecutive low-scoring affairs (Under 2.5 Goals) over the past two months and stable defending could be the foundation of a favorable outcome at Stamford Bridge.
The 2-0 win over another west London side – Brentford – was Brighton's first Premier League success since a 2-1 home win over Leicester City on September 19 and the Seagulls will be looking to exploit Chelsea's selection concerns and the slump in their defensive game of late.
Chelesa, on the other hand, are clear favorites to claim the three points at Stamford Bridge, but Brighton could be a tough nut to crack, as they were impressive against Liverpool at Anfield earlier in the campaign.