After a break of just five weeks, which felt more like five days, Chelsea are back for the first match of the 2020-21 season. It’s a repeat of the only friendly we managed to fit into the busy and brief preseason, which at the time served as a test event for letting fans back into stadiums but will now be once again played behind closed doors.
Fans might start coming back next month, depending on the COVID-19 pandemic’s current status, but for now, the only difference from Project Restart is that we no longer have drinks breaks, and we’re once again back to three substitutes, which is dumb.
But in a more narrower view, much has changed including Chelsea’s ambitions. After a £200m+ spending spree, the pressure’s on to perform and get the results we need to challenge for the title. That quest begins now.
Date / Time: Monday, September 14, 2020, 20.15 BST; 3:15pm EDT; 12:45am IST (next day)
Venue: Amex Stadium, Brighton, England
Referees: Craig Pawson (on pitch); Kevin Friend (VAR)
Forecast: Plenty of sunshine followed by a warm evening
On TV: Sky Sports Main Event (UK); none (USA); Star Sports Select HD1 (India); SuperSport Grandstand, Canal+ Sport 2 (NGA); elsewhere
Streaming: Sky Go (UK); Peacock (USA); HotStar (India); DStv Now (NGA) — Peacock is NBC’s new streaming service (replacing NBC Gold), which Xfinity customers get for free. Others have to pay $5/month or $50/year ($10 & $100 for the premium ad-free version). Comcast is the parent company of NBC and an investor in Vox/SB Nation. Here’s our affiliate link if you want to make our corporate overlords happy.
Brighton & Hove Albion team news: Since the friendly a couple weeks ago, Brighton have put a stop to the Ben White transfer rumors by signing the highly rated young defender to a new four-year contract while letting the older big man Shane Duffy go out on loan to Celtic. Veteran striker Glen Murray has also departed on loan, joining Watford (who recently also signed former Chelsea Loan Army striker Stipe Perica).
Speaking for former Chelsea players, Tariq Lamptey made 8 appearances after leaving Chelsea in January — he had made 3 appearances for us — and the 19-year-old is set to build on that in his first full season at the club after the departures of older right backs Martin Montoya and Ezequiel Schelotto.
I went back to school to learn more about Brighton's pocket rocket.— Andy Naylor (@AndyNaylorBHAFC) September 12, 2020
Spoke to two of his teachers, along with Graham Potter, Bruno Saltor, Dan Burn.
The verdict? Incredible potential and such a nice kid.
Enjoy the season everyone. #BHAFC https://t.co/mmpqFtEcoV
Brighton squeezed in a second friendly in addition to the Chelsea one, drawing 0-0 with West Brom. No team had more draws than Brighton’s 14 last season, as they finished six points clear of the relegation zone. They will surely be looking to improve on that.
Chelsea team news: It’s been a transformative summer — at least we’re hoping that it proves to be — but for this one, only Timo Werner and Kai Havertz will be available. Ben Chilwell and Hakim Ziyech are injured, the latter picking up a knee problem in the friendly against Brighton of all games, while Thiago Silva has not joined the squad yet.
We’re down a couple more players due to Mateo Kovačić’s suspension (stemming from the red card in the FA Cup final) and the long-term injury to Billy Gilmour. Fortunately, both Christian Pulisic and César Azpilicueta have recovered from their hamstring injuries, and both N’Golo Kanté and Ruben Loftus-Cheek are at their healthiest in almost a year and a half.
Previously: Werner scored within minutes of kick-off in his first unofficial Chelsea match.