Brighton will look to upset a tired Chelsea side when they host Antonio Conte’s men in the first game of Match Week 24 at the Amex Stadium. The Blues were taken the distance by Championship outfit Norwich in their midweek Cup replay, exactly the kind of tie Antonio Conte would not have wanted, and will now be in league action less than 72 hours later against Chris Hughton’s men.
Chelsea made nine changes from the side that draw against Leicester in midweek, with Cesar Azpilicueta and Tiemoue Bakayoko the only survivors from the clash against the Foxes, as they sought to get some goals and confidence under their belt against the Canaries.
However it was not easy going for the Blues and while they did manage to get on the scoresheet through Michy Batshuayi ten minutes after the interval, the game was sent to extra time when youngster Jamal Lewis headed home for the visitors. The two sides could not be separated after 120 minutes, which sent the game to penalties, where the Blues finally prevailed 5-3 in the shootout.
Unfortunately for the home side, strikers Pedro and Alvaro Morata were both sent off against Norwich, the latter picking up two yellows in the space of a minute (first for diving and then for protesting against the decision), leaving them very thin upfront for the visit to the Amex. Conte was also forced to bring on the likes of Andreas Christensen, N’golo Kante and Eden Hazard off the bench- three players he would ideally have liked to rest ahead of this weekend’s clash.
Cesc Fabregas and Gary Cahill both remain injury doubts, but there could be a potential debut on Saturday for new signing Ross Barkley, a winter acquisition from Everton.
The two teams played each as recently as Boxing Day, with Chelsea emerging 2-0 winners at Stamford Bridge thanks to goals from Morata and Marcos Alonso. 41,568 fans were at the Bridge that afternoon, and you can be sure Brighton fans will show similar enthusiasm by snapping up football tickets ahead of their team’s marquee clash against the reigning Premier League champions.
The referee for this one is Jon Moss, and Chelsea have had plenty of success with him in charge this season- 4-2 and 2-0 wins at home over Watford and Everton respectively, and a 4-0 triumph at the Hawthorns against West Brom. This will be Brighton’s first game involving Moss this season.
Last five games Brighton and Hove Albion form
West Brom 2-0 Brighton
Brighton 2-1 Palace
Brighton 2-2 Bournemouth
Newcastle 0-0 Brighton
Chelsea 2-0 Brighton
Brighton & Hove Albion v Chelsea kicks off at 12.30 on Saturday