The first of eight Premier League games today takes us to the South Coast as Brighton play host to defending champions Chelsea who it must be said are in something of a rut in terms of form at the moment, they will look to dig themselves out of that by earning maximum points at The AMEX.
However that will be easy said then done with both Pedro and Alvaro Morata both out through suspension after being sent off in their F.A. Cup 3rd Round replay win over Norwich on Wednesday as the Spanish duo each picked up two yellow cards.
Both the internationals were adjudged to have dived during the game while Pedro then went into the book once again for a robust tackle, one that then saw him head off for an early bath while Morata talked himself into a red just seconds after getting booked for a simulation.
It meant that Chelsea finished the game with nine players but luckily they kept their heads when it mattered as the game went all the way to penalties, they eventually edged through to the fourth round but the result has certainly come at a price.
That being that neither Pedro or Morata can be called upon this lunchtime and this means that Antonio Conte will be light on attacking personnel when going up against Chris Hughton’s men. This could however mean another start for Michy Batshuyai who opened the scoring on Wednesday night.
For Brighton they come into this game looking to bring an end to a four game streak without a win and one that now sees them slide down to 16th in the Premier League table. The Sussex based outfit are now looking somewhat nervously over their shoulders.
That is because they find themselves just three points clear of the drop zone and although it would take an almost ludicrous swing of results to see them end the weekend in the bottom three they can ill afford not to get anything on the board today.
Earlier in the week the prospect of facing Chelsea would have seem an arduous one but the Brighton players will undoubtedly be boosted by the fact that the Blues come here severely depleted in attack and that they had to play for over two hours on Wednesday.
Not only that though but Chelsea are definitely struggling for form, they have not won a game in 2018 (if we ignore the fact that they needed penalties to get past Norwich in midweek) as they have stuttered to a frustrating number of draws.
Two league draws have been followed up by a Carabao Cup Semi Final 1st Leg draw with Arsenal and also needed two big bites of the Cherry to get the better of Norwich. Not only that but this form has seen them give second place back to Manchester United as they now have to worry about Liverpool and Tottenham trying to close the gap below.
The race for fourth has now most definitely become the race for third with just three points seperating Chelsea in third and Tottenham in fifth and it is fair to say that at present these two London clubs are moving in very different trajectories.
Chelsea cannot afford not to win, while the same can be said for Brighton who last time out where the first team that West Brom have beaten since August. That would have been a result that would have knocked their own confidence but quite simply they are going to have to pick themselves up and go again.
At the start of the week I had this down as a Chelsea win, now to be honest after the reasons of suspension and fatigue I am not too sure. Saturday lunchtime games have a habit of not sparking into life and I have a feeling this one could be another frustrating draw for Antonio Conte’s men.