Brighton vs Chelsea predictions: Seagulls to frustrate returning Potter
- Chelsea have drawn their last two league games
- The last three meetings between Brighton and Chelsea have ended in a draw
- Recommended bet: Back the draw
Chelsea manager Graham Potter returns to the Amex Stadium less than two months after departing the South Coast — and how his replacement, Roberto De Zerbi, could do with a victory against his predecessor.
It has been the harshest of Premier League introductions for the Italian coach, who was handed a hellish run of fixtures in which to acclimatise to a different league and get to know his new squad.
A run of games against Liverpool, Tottenham, Brentford, Nottingham Forest and Manchester City have returned just two draws, but while De Zerbi will be bitterly disappointed with his points haul, he will have seen more than enough in the performances to give hope for the future.
Next up, a Chelsea side led by the man who built this Brighton squad, with Potter retaining hero status on the South Coast for the work he did at the Amex.
Now would be the perfect time for De Zerbi to finally get the three points his team have been promising — and in doing so prove to the Brighton supporters that he is the man to replace a departed hero.
De Zerbi is without long-term absentee Jakub Moder until the spring, while winger Kaoru Mitoma also looks set to miss out this weekend with an ankle problem.
Midfielder Adam Lallana should make the squad despite having to come off at half-time against City last weekend but defender Joel Veltman could miss out after picking up a calf injury in that match.
Loanee Levi Colwill is ineligible to play against parent club Chelsea.
Potter arrives with yet more concerns over his defensive players, with midfielder Mateo Kovacic the latest injury doubt.
The Croatian netted the opener at FC Salzburg on Tuesday night but had to come off after 68 minutes with a tight calf muscle so must be a doubt this weekend.
Fellow defensive midfielder N’Golo Kante is expected to be out until February following an operation on his hamstring, while Reece James is expected to be unavailable until after the World Cup with a knee injury.
In central defence, Wesley Fofana is also unlikely to return until after the World Cup and Kalidou Koulibaly is rated no greater than 50/50 to feature having missed the last two Chelsea squads with a knee problem.
Brighton may have picked up only two points from five games under De Zerbi, but the Seagulls have been hugely unlucky not to get more.
They hammered Forest, raining in 19 shots to the visitors' three and claimed 71% possession but were denied by goalkeeper Dean Henderson in a scarcely believable 0-0 draw.
In their only other home game under the Italian, Brighton dominated large spells of the match against Spurs but ended up losing 1-0.
They were also unlucky losers at Brentford, outperforming their hosts on expected goals but falling to a 2-0 defeat.
And while they were outclassed by City last weekend, the Seagulls thoroughly deserved their 3-3 draw at Liverpool at the start of the month.
In contrast, Chelsea have been getting good results but have often looked unconvincing in their five Premier League performances under Potter.
The Blues deserved their point against Manchester United last weekend and were very comfortable in a 3-0 victory over a poor Wolves side.
However, they nicked a 90th-minute winner at Crystal Palace and were outperformed in expected goals in both the victory at Aston Villa and their 0-0 draw at Brentford.
There are strange and striking differences in performances and results for both new managers, with Potter’s Chelsea side not looking great but getting the job done while De Zerbi’s Brighton have played well while remaining winless.
But those runs cannot go on forever as there is a large element of fortune swinging things in opposite directions for the two managers.
Whatever the recent results, a trip to the Amex remains a seriously tough test for any visitor and, with these two clubs having drawn four of their last five meetings, it would be no surprise to see another stalemate at 11/5 via LiveScore Bet.