Sky Sports pundit Charlie Nicholas has claimed he can see positives in how Chelsea play, and although they also have flaws under Frank Lampard, that should not prevent a win against Brighton & Hove Albion on Saturday.
The Blues host Graham Potter’s Seagulls at Stamford Bridge this weekend looking to bounce back from defeat on home soil to league-leading Liverpool last time out, a result which left the West London side 11th in the Premier League table.
Brighton are just two points worse off than Chelsea as they travel up from the south coast, and will arrive to face the Blues knowing they have endured better success on the road so far this term and dominated against Newcastle United at St. James’ Park last time out.
Saturday’s affair could be very different for Brighton, as Europa League holders Chelsea should be the side with the upper hand throughout, although Nicholas still feels the hosts can be vulnerable at times as they continue to adjust to life under Lampard.
“The young stars are shining bright at Chelsea,” Nicholas noted in his weekly predictions for Sky Sports, as he backed the Stamford Bridge side to win 3-1.
“They got a chance against Grimsby, and Callum Hudson-Odoi got a new contract, played and scored too, so everything looks to be on the up. But you have to remember that they lost their last Premier League game, are mid-table so far and you don’t know what will happen next.
“Graham Potter had a great start to the season and was in a bubble, but reality has hit. Leandro Trossard is injured, Anthony Knockaert has gone and they don’t have the width any more. Tammy Abraham’s pace will be too much for them here.”
Abraham’s pace could certainly be a factor which decides the result on Saturday, as Brighton’s players have been dribbled past on average 10.2 times per game this league season, according to WhoScored data, which accounts for just over a third of the Seagull’s attempted tackles.
However, the 21-year-old – who has scored seven goals this league season – has only registered one successful dribble so far this term (WhoScored), coming against Wolverhampton Wanderers when he bagged a hat-trick.
Potter’s Amex Stadium natives have also conceded all of their eight goals in the current campaign from open play, as they continue to hold the record as one of six sides yet to concede from a set-piece – a chart Chelsea rank second in for goals allowed.
The Seagulls are not afraid to be offensive either, and earned Pep Guardiola’s praise (Guardian) for trying to take it to Manchester City at the end of August as they held firm in their tactics to play out from the back and work chances to score.
So it may come down to a battle between the Brighton defence and the Chelsea attack that decides the outcome of this game.
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