Chelsea will look to maintain their top-four push when they welcome Brighton to Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night.
The Blues have struggled to rediscover their early season form as they currently languish in sixth place. However, they are only one point behind Tottenham in third, which should give Maurizio Sarri’s men enough incentive to fight till the end.
The London side trail Manchester United in fourth by a single point while Arsenal are ahead on goal difference in fifth and have a match in hand. Speaking of goal difference, Chelsea (+18) are behind the remaining three teams in this regard and will look to improve it, especially in games against teams from the bottom half.
Meanwhile, Brighton are in a relatively comfortable stage at this point in the season. The Seagulls look to have secured Premier League football for the third consecutive season. Chris Hughton is loved by all parts of the club and continues to do a tremendous job of keeping them comfortably up on a shoestring budget when compared with other PL clubs.
Brighton are currently in 15th place, five points off 18th-placed Cardiff and have a game in hand. Thus, Hughton’s men are looking for a minimum of five points over the remaining eight games to hit the relegation-safe number of 40.Embed from Getty Images
However, Albion have lost three of their last five league games, while Chelsea have only lost one from their last five. On the flip side, the former are into the semi-finals of the FA Cup and are set to take on Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City at the Wembley on Saturday.
Chelsea vs Brighton Preview and Prediction
Brighton’s focus on the weekend’s big game could see Hughton rest several first-team players on Wednesday in order to keep them fresh. This could directly play into Chelsea’s hands and help their cause to finish in the top four.
In terms of team news, Sarri will have most of his squad available except for Ethan Ampadu. Further, David Zappacosta has an outside chance of making it for the match. Eden Hazard came off the bench in Chelsea’s 2-1 comeback win at Cardiff and the Belgian will be geared for a start against Brighton.
Florin Andone is set to play some part as Hughton confirmed the Romanian striker’s return to training. Pascal Gross remains on the sidelines while reserve goalkeeper Jason Steele is ruled out.
The previous meeting between the sides back in December ended in Chelsea’s favour with goals from Pedro and Hazard. There is no question Chelsea need the three points more than Brighton, whose prime focus could very well lie on keeping their key players fit for the FA Cup tie.
Thus, Chelsea should ease to a routine win at home and will look to take another step towards finishing in the top four.
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