Saturday’s match between Brighton & Hove Albion and Chelsea has plenty of narrative power in today’s Premier League matchup. It is the first meeting between the two sides since Graham Potter, who led Brighton to its most successful spell in the club’s 121-year history, left the Seagulls to become the manager of Chelsea.
Questions about Brighton immediately began to pop up as soon as Potter left the South Coast for the bright lights of London. The 47-year-old had the Seagulls playing at a consistently impressive level during his entire tenure, so it was fair to wonder if the club would start to fade with Potter out of the picture. And even if Brighton’s results don’t look great under new manager Roberto De Zerbi, rumors of the Seagulls’ demise have been greatly exaggerated.
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Chelsea vs. Brighton prediction
De Zerbi took over Brighton after the international break and immediately steered the Seagulls to an impressive 3-3 draw at Anfield. Brighton and Liverpool basically split the expected goals in that match, but the Seagulls were a bit unlucky not to get away with all three points considering they went ahead 2-0 early in the match.
That’s been a bit of a theme for De Zerbi’s Brighton — playing well and not getting rewarded — as they’re 0-2-3 (W-D-L) under the Italian but have a +0.1 expected goal differential in that span, which featured matches against Liverpool, Tottenham and Man City.
Taking on his fourth Big Six Club in his first seven matches at the American Express Stadium probably has De Zerbi questioning his luck. Still, Brighton has acquitted themselves well against elite teams over the past two seasons, and they looked impressive against Liverpool and Tottenham, while everyone can look pedestrian against Man City.
As for Chelsea, they’re surging under their new manager. Potter has posted a 6-3-0 (W-D-L) record in his first nine matches in charge of Chelsea (including the Champions League) and the Blues have only conceded four goals in that span.
However, there are some signs that Chelsea is overperforming. For one, the Blues have allowed 5.2 expected goals over their last four matches (Aston Villa, Brentford, Manchester United and RB Salzburg of the Austrian Bundesliga) and have only surrendered two goals. Some negative regression should be coming for the Blues on defense if they continue to be this leaky.
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Chelsea will be without N’Golo Kante, Reece James, Wesley Fofana and Kalidou Koulibaly for their trip to Brighton, which further calls into question their ability to keep the ball out of the net.
Additionally, there are certainly fatigue concerns for Chelsea. This will be their ninth match since Oct. 1 and their fifth road match in the past two weeks. Chelsea played in Austria on Tuesday.
As for Brighton, they’ve been able to create scoring chances under De Zerbi, but they have had a tough time finishing them off. The Seagulls have created 4.5 expected goals over their last four contests but have one goal to show for their efforts. They should start to regress positively.
Taking on their old manager and facing a tired, depleted squad, Brighton are well worth a shot as a home underdog on Saturday morning.
Chelsea vs. Brighton pick
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