Verdict: Home win
Best odds: 1/5
The football season does not stop for the festivities as the players are back out on the field on Boxing day. Every side is looking to pick up three points for different reasons, and they will not want to start the new year on the back of a string of losses. With this in mind, Chelsea host Brighton on Tuesday.
The festive period has been a fairly good one for Chelsea so far as they look to keep pace with Manchester United in second-place. After 19 games they have won 12 times and drawn three games resulting in the Blues taking 39 points so far. Manchester United, on the other hand, have won one more game than the reigning champions, which has seen them onto 42 points for the season so far. In their last five games they have managed to take 10 points from a possible 15 with three wins and a draw, however, the stalemate came in their last game as they dominated the match against Everton, but the Toffees’ resilient defence held firm. Despite dropping points, it was not doom and gloom for the side, as Leicester left it late to score an equaliser in a 2-2 draw with United, seeing both sides drop points. As far as the team goes, Eden Hazard has been in good form lately as the mercurial Belgian is recapturing the form that has Europe’s top sides dreaming of purchasing him as he has netted eight goals and clocked four assists, while Alvaro Morata has been leading the line in impressive style, scoring 11 goals and registering four assists in all competitions, and perhaps the Blues missed him more than they thought they would after he was suspended for the game against Everton after picking up his fifth yellow card. One player that has been particularly impressive of late is Willian. The Brazilian has come in for some criticism after a number of poor performances, but he has since come out fighting, scoring important goals and putting in hard-working displays.
Alvaro Morata returns after serving his one-game ban, while David Luiz (knee) and Charly Musonda (groin) are still absent from the squad.
It is proving to be a very good season so far for Brighton as they continue to defy expectation and belief. Many surmised that the newly-promoted side would be one of the first to be relegated, but they have looked very good this campaign. After 19 games they have won five times, drawn six and lost eight games, scoring 15 goals and conceding 23 times. The 21 points they have collected so far this campaign means they are five points clear of the relegation zone, and another run of wins would move them closer to the supposed safety of 40 points. Huddersfield are the only other newly promoted side that are above Brighton, with last season’s play-off winners a point above, while Newcastle have been struggling and it took a huge win in their last game to get them out of the relegation zone. As squads go, Newcastle have the best of the three sides that were promoted last season, and yet they are struggling the most. Perhaps the play-style of Brighton and their willingness to fight is what is saving them this season. Glenn Murray has continued his good scoring form as he has netted five goals this season, however, it is a concern that Anthony Knockaert has just one goal and one assist in 1336 minutes this season, with the forward an integral part of Brighton last campaign. Perhaps a change in his fortunes will see the side rise even higher.
Like Morata, Shane Duffy returns from suspension, while Steve Sidwell (back) remains out, and Izzy Brown will not be able to play against his parent club.
In their last eight games together, Chelsea have won six times, with Brighton winning once, and the other game ending in a draw.
Glenn Murray is Brighton’s top scorer with five goals this season.
Eden Hazard (four goals) and Alvaro Morata (nine goals) have scored just two less Premier League goal than the entirety of Brighton’s team (15).
Chelsea’s failure to score against Everton was the second time in four league games that they have failed to score.
The sides are currently separated by 18 points in the league, with Chelsea having won 12 games and Brighton five.
Brighton will arrive at Stamford Bridge looking to build on the win from their last game and they will look to stay compact and hit the reigning champions on the break. By contrast, Chelsea will dominate the ball throughout, but the real challenge will come from how successful they are at remaining patient and breaking Brighton’s two banks of defenders down. Expect to see Hazard cutting in often, and the return of Morata will surely see goals.
Verdict: Home win
Best odds: 1/5
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