Chelsea v Brighton
Wednesday, 19:45
Two sides out of form but in need of points for differing reasons go head to head at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night.
Following a thoroughly unconvincing 2-1 win at Cardiff on Sunday, Chelsea go into it just a point outside the top four spots which provide Champions League football so craved by the Blues.
They really struggled to create meaningful chances in Wales and boss Maurizio Sarriadmitted he was fortunate to get away with his decision to rest both Eden Hazard and N'golo Kante. With Chelsea's next game not until next Monday (at home to West Ham) both will surely return here.
Hazard certainly provided a much-needed spark when he was introduced off the bench with Gonzalo Higuain left starved of service for large periods of the game.
Late goals from Cesar Azpilicueta and another sub, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, ensured Chelsea avoided what would have been a fifth defeat in six on the road.
Things have been considerably better on home soil - only Leicester have won here this season in the league - but Brighton will take heart from the fact that their hosts needed another late goal, this one from Hazard, to draw 1-1 with Wolves last time out, while in January Southampton left with a point after a goalless draw.
With the Blues' fans restless - mainly at Sarri's possession-based football which too often fails to provide a cutting edge - it's easy to suggest they could be vulnerable here.

Semi-final looms for Seagulls

Unfortunately, Brighton's current circumstances make them far from attractive, even at a big price.
The Seagulls, who will again be without Pascal Gross in midfield but could have Florian Andone back as a forward option, have won just two of their 10 league games in 2019and they remain looking over their shoulder following Saturday's 1-0 home defeat to Southampton.
Chelsea's comeback at Cardiff did them a favour though and they head into this game five points above the relegation zone.
Another issue is their looming FA Cup semi-final - they play Manchester City at Wembley less than 72 hours after the final whistle so could really have done without this game. With that huge match to come, you have to wonder what changes Chris Hughton will make to his team, even if they do still need points.
While, sadly, Premier League survival seems to trump the chance of FA Cup glory these days, Brighton do have home games against Bournemouth, Cardiff and Newcastle to come and you feel their future will be decided in those contests.

Chelsea look short

Unfortunately I'm unable to read Hughton's mind which makes the win-draw-win market unappealing.
I certainly wouldn't get involved with Chelsea at 1.28 given their current state but their home record suggests it's going to be hard for Brighton to claim all three points whatever side they pick. They are 15.50 to win.
The draw has some potential at [6.2] although waiting for the teams might be an idea.

Goals in short supply

I prefer other markets with an unders play on the goal lines looking worthwhile.
Both sides are lacking confidence right now and the locals could easily get on their own side's back if they are frustrated by Brighton early on.
The visitors, who only lost 1-0 at Liverpool and 2-0 at Manchester City, will surely be happy to set up with two solid lines and ask Chelsea to break them down - something that's been a problem for the hosts of late.
Hughton was certainly not overflowing with confidence when he said: "We know we're reliant on playing well and the opposition playing poorly. Anything different to that and the top six teams are generally always going to win."
His men have scored only eight goals in their last nine league matches, while Chelsea have only seven in their last eight domestic games (I've deliberately left out figures for Brighton in the FA Cup and Chelsea in the Europa League as they've both played much-changed sides in those competitions).
That all makes under 2.5 goals at odds-against (2.28) look attractive. Over 2.5 is offered at 1.74.

Vote for Pedro

There's also a bet in the goalscorer markets which I can't ignore, even though I've talked up the chances of a low-scoring game.
In the anytime scorer market, Hazard is odds-on but Pedro is 6/4. We know why - Hazard is this team's star - but the stats suggest the price discrepancy is wrong.
Hazard may be his side's top scorer but he's scored in 'only' five of his 15 home league games. Pedro, on the other hand, has netted in six of his 12 at the Bridge.
However, rather than backing 6/4 (a short price given Chelsea may struggle to bag many) I'll head to the first scorer market to back the Spaniard.
Five of his six home goals have been the first which is an impressive strike rate in this market. He's 9/2 to bag the opener in this one - a decent price as long as he's in the starting XI, which he has been in Chelsea's last three league games.

Same Game Multi

Let's keep things simple here - a case for a low-scoring game has been made but with Chelsea having the greater quality adding 1-0 looks worth a go.
Throw in the decent Pedro first-scorer argument and you get a 33.12 double.

Opta fact

Chelsea have won all seven of their league games against Brighton - only Wimbledon against Bournemouth (8/8) have a better 100% win record against an opponent in English Football League history.
1pt under 2.5 goals @ 2.28
0.5pt Pedro first goalscorer @ 9/2

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