Chelsea v Brighton: Fresh Seagulls can earn a draw

Brighton returned to winning ways last time and can use that momentum to earn a draw at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday evening, says Dave Tindall...

Are Chelsea back on track?

After hammering Juventus 4-0 at Stamford Bridge on November 23, it was hard to predict that Chelsea would win just two of their next seven games.

The only defeat they suffered in that sticky spell was a rather unfortunate 3-2 loss at West Ham. But home draws with an ailing Manchester United and an out-of-form Everton along with away stalemates at Zenit and Wolves suggested things were getting away from Thomas Tuchel.

Losses to key men in central midfield and in attack were part of the reason but the continuous dropping of points led many to believe that a three-horse title race was now down to two: Manchester City and Liverpool.

So, has that possible rush to judgement changed after back-to-back away wins against Brentford in the Carabao Cup and Aston Villa in the Premier League?

Clearly the win at Villa was a major boost, especially as Chelsea went behind. But perhaps it was the manner of that victory that particularly pleased Tuchel given that Romelu Lukaku appeared back to his rampaging best.

Is this where Chelsea kick on again? After Brighton, the next visitors to the Bridge are Liverpool. Perhaps it's only then that we'll know if Chelsea are the real deal or still a work in progress in terms of a side that can win the Premier League.

Brighton back on track too

Brighton were the surprise packages at the start of the season, gatecrashing the top four by winning of their first five games.

Were they this season's West Ham? The answer it seems is no, although the realisation has been gradual.

Brighton still don't lose many games; the problem is that they've stopped winning them too. In other words, they've become the Premier League's draw specialists, having to settle for a single point in eight of their 17 matches.

With the wins drying up, that's caused a slide but still occupying a top-half spot at this point of the season is impressive.

In addition, they come into this one having banked a victory at last. That came via a 2-0 home success over Brentford, Brighton's first win in 12 matches.

Graham Potter will hope it's the start of something and a favourable fixture list after the Chelsea game bodes well. As for the here and now, a 2-2 draw at Anfield earlier this season will given Brighton added confidence they can get something here.

Brighton capable of grabbing a point

A look at the outright betting shows Chelsea as 1.46 favourites to take all three points. Brighton are 9.0 while The Draw is 4.8.

Those who took short prices on Chelsea to win at home against Burnley and Everton will surely shy away from the hosts.

And when adding in the 1-1 draw with Manchester United, Tuchel's men have drawn three of their last four home league games. It would have been all four but for a last-gasp winner against Leeds after being awarded a penalty.

As for recent head-to-heads, that should strike further caution into Chelsea backers. This fixture ended 0-0 last year while two of the last three meetings have seen Brighton grab a point.

It's also worth looking at the two sides' recent schedules.

Chelsea have played eight times in December, the last four on the 16th, 19th, 22nd and 26th. Brighton have gone into combat on just four occasions, with just one outing since the 15th (the 2-0 win over Brentford on Boxing Day).

While Chelsea have by far the bigger squad, Brighton are the fresher team. Add in recent head-to-heads and the Seagulls being hard to beat (they've lost just once on the road) and there's enough there to think the visitors can nick a point.

When noting that Chelsea are set to be without key men Thiago Silva and N'Golo Kante, the conclusion has to be that The Draw appeals at 4.8.

Both teams can register

While this game finished goalless last season, I'd be more inclined to back Both teams to Score this time at 2.2.

The Seagulls are certainly capable of grinding out another 0-0 but four of their last five draws have seen both sides find the net.

BTTS has landed in Chelsea's last three home Premier League games so odds-against looks a fair price.

Player markets offer decent opportunities

Here's a surprising stat that most would have thought ridiculous at the start of the season and many won't believe even now: Neal Maupay has the same number of Premier League goals (seven) as Cristiano Ronaldo this season.

The in-form Frenchman opened his campaign with four in six and he's now put the ball in the net in each of the last three, including the last two away games at West Ham and Southampton.

Maupay is worth a play at 5.0 to keep the run going.

Mason Mount also has seven Premier League goals but I'm going to play him for an anytime assist at 4.2

The thinking is that he links up particularly well with Lukaku and the Belgian's return to the side should give Mount more opportunity to find the killer pass.

Mount already has four top-flight assists to his name this term and let's back him to make it five.

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