Brighton’s only victory in any competition against Chelsea came in their first such meeting, 2-1 in an FA Cup tie in January 1933, while Chelsea have won all four of their previous league matches against Brighton & Hove Albion.
Though this will be the first such meeting since March 1989 in the second tier, will Brighton prove to be no pushover?
Chelsea’s leading scorer Alvaro Morata returns from suspension, but David Luiz (knee) remains out, while Brighton welcome back Shane Duffy from suspension, but Steve Sidwell (back) is out and Izzy Brown is ineligible to face his parent club.
Since a 2-4 loss at Charlton Athletic in 2003, Chelsea are unbeaten in their last 12 Premier League matches played on Boxing Day (W7 D5).
Brighton haven’t won any of their last eight league matches on December 26th (D3 L5), since beating Queens Park Rangers in the Championship in 2005.
Brighton’s manager, Chris Hughton said, “It was important that we picked up something [against Watford] and that allows us to go into the Chelsea game with a little bit more confidence.”
Antonio Conte’s side were dominant from the start of Saturday’s game and had a total of 25 shots on goal, but thanks to a combination of the crossbar, goal-line clearances and impressive saves by Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford, the breakthrough never arrived.
Chelsea defender, Rudiger said, “Of course it’s very disappointing because I think we were the better team and we had a lot of chances to score but you have some days when it’s like that. You can even play for maybe three hours and you wouldn’t score.”
“We needed the three points so we have to keep going. We played a good match but we were just unlucky.”
Alonso, who returned to the starting line-up having missed the Carabao Cup win over Bournemouth through suspension, echoed the sentiments of his team-mate.
The Chelsea wing-back, when asked if it was a case of two points lost, rather than one gained said, “Yes, definitely. We were very unlucky not to win after controlling the whole game and having a lot of chances. But we take one point, it is what it is, very disappointing”
“We knew it was going to be tough and as the game was passing it was getting harder because they were defending closer to their goal. The performance wasn’t bad, we just need to be more clinical.”
The Blues now face two consecutive home matches, with the visit of Brighton on Boxing Day preceding a game against Stoke City next Saturday, and Rudiger outlined Chelsea’s intentions in simple terms.
He said, “The target can only be six points. It’s not easy but that’s our aim, that’s what we’re going for, we want six points.”
Chelsea manager, Antonio Conte, said, “It’s very important to keep the balance during the game. Don’t forget our striker, Morata, was out [against Everton] and I think he’s very important because he’s our finisher.”
The match kicks off by 4pm Nigerian time, and the match officials are; Referee: Mike Dean
Assistants: Ian Hussin, Daniel Cook
Fourth official: Lee Probert