Chelsea begin the second half of the season by facing the one and only Premier League team we have yet face this season, Brighton & Hove Albion (we’ve played both games against Everton to balance that out). Brighton are also the last of the league’s newcomers this season for Chelsea to face — perhaps another 3-1 is in store then, just as against Newcastle and Huddersfield.
So after all the unboxing on Christmas Day, it’s time for a bit of football on Boxing Day.
Date / Time: Tuesday, December 26, 2017, 15.00 GMT; 10am EST; 8:30pm IST
Venue: Stamford Bridge, SW6
Referee: Mike Dean — Mike Dean has refereed Chelsea more often than any other team (67 times), but this will only be his second match this season, following the 4-0 over Stoke City in September, the one with the Morata hat-trick.
Forecast: Morning sunshine turning to cold rain.
On TV: none (UK); none (USA); Star Sports Select HD2 (India); elsewhere
Streaming online: NBC Sports Gold (USA); Hotstar (India)
Chelsea team news: With Conte’s customary pre-match press conference seemingly eschewed in favor of a very brief Christmas break, we can only assume that the squad is as healthy as it was over the weekend, with only David Luiz and Charly Musonda Jr remaining sidelined with injury. For the first time in three games, we also have no one suspended as Álvaro Morata is available after serving his one-match ban for yellow card accumulation.
Saturday’s 0-0 draw put a stop to Chelsea’s winning streak at three, which fits the pattern for much of the season — Chelsea have won at least three in a row 5 times this season, but only managed a fourth once (and that ended afterwards as well). A good portion of the blame should rest on the attack, which produced yet another anemic display of finishing chances against Everton. In recent games against Swansea, Atlético Madrid, West Ham, Southampton, and Everton, Chelsea have managed just three goals on 107 shots — one of which was an own goal, and one a free kick.
On the plus side, Chelsea have conceded just six goals in the last dozen games, since shipping three to Roma at the Olimpico.
Brighton team news: The Seagulls, who remain safely in mid-table after a solid start to life in the Premier League, won for the first time in eight games on Saturday, beating Watford 1-0 on a Pascal Groß goal. The 26-year-old summer signing from Ingolstadt has far too often been the only difference-maker in Brighton’s workmanlike squad, especially with Anthony Knockaert not living up to his billing as the best player in the Championship last season. Steve Sidwell, who once had a cup of tea with Chelsea, remains sidelined with a back injury while Chelsea loanee Izzy Brown is unavailable.
Previously: Chelsea and Brighton have never played a top flight match against each other and have played just eight times outside of friendlies, such as the one in the 2012 pre-season (when Chelsea lost 3-1!). Chelsea did win all four meetings back in the late ‘80s in the confines of the old Division 2.