Brighton & Hove Albion-Chelsea Preview
Frank Lampard has a home win, but still no league victories at Stamford Bridge.
He also still does not have a clean sheet since taking charge of Chelsea, and those two things are at the top of the to-do list Saturday when the Pensioners host Brighton and Hove Albion.
The Blues made short work of League Two side Grimsby Town in the third round of the Carabao Cup on Wednesday, winning 7-1. Lampard handed out starts to six academy players and nearly all of them found the back of the net as Chelsea (2-2-2) earned a date with Manchester United in the fourth round next month at home.
Teenage starlet Reece James set up two goals before adding a well-taken one of his own in the 82nd minute, while Michy Batshuayi made his argument for moving up the pecking order in attack with a brace on either side of halftime. There was also the welcome return of winger Callum Hudson-Odoi, who scored on his return after a six-month absence due to a partially torn Achilles, and the Pensioners also received goals from Ross Barkley, Pedro, and Kurt Zouma.
"I am pleased we had some players who had not been playing so many minutes, and players who are young who started the game with some debuts given," Lampard told Chelsea's official website. "And the two young lads who came on in the second half [Ian Maatsen and Tino Anjorin] improved the team which is great to see. So there were some nice minutes and a nice comfortable win having not won at Stamford Bridge before that, so on those levels I am happy."
Lampard's lone point of consternation was the first-half goal that provided some nervy moments at 2-1. The Chelsea gaffer noted the goal was "a disaster" but also pointed out it was "good for the young players in particular to see that small details, if you don't watch the video we show before the game and realise the danger, can cost you."
The goal also meant the Pensioners have still yet to record a shutout in nine matches across all competitions. Those defensive frailties continue to be a sore spot in league play, where Chelsea's 12 goals are joint-third, but their 13 shipped are better than only promoted Norwich City (14) and last-place Watford (18).
Brighton (1-3-2), however, could be the side who help Chelsea claim that elusive clean sheet. The Seagulls enter this contest with just one goal in their last four league matches after playing Newcastle United to a scoreless draw at St James' Park last weekend.
They are also winless in their last four in all competitions (0-2-2) after crashing out of the Carabao Cup with a 3-1 home loss to promoted Aston Villa on Wednesday.
Brighton boss Graham Potter also gave his young charges a chance for greatness as seven players made their competitive debuts, with defender Hayden Roberts offering a chance for a fightback with a 61st-minute header. Villa, though, restored their two-goal lead through Jack Grealish on 77 minutes and were never threatened thereafter.
"You can speak from a coaching perspective, but it's only when you're out there and you're playing against top players that you find out things about your own personal game," Potter noted about the young side he opted for to the team's official website.
"We're a club that invests a lot of money and time into the academy, so it's important to give opportunities and pathways to the players."
Potter, who was brought on board to unlock Brighton's offensive talents after Chris Houghton failed to do so, has yet to see that materialise. The Gulls bagged three of their five goals in their season-opening victory at Watford and have gone 193 minutes without a goal on the road.
One piece of good news for Potter is that veteran striker Glenn Murray will be available for this contest, but defender Shane Duffy is all but certain to miss out due to a calf injury suffered in the loss to Villa.
Chelsea have done the double in both seasons since Brighton first won promotion in 2017, winning the four meetings by a combined 11-1 scoreline. The Pensioners - who are 10-1-1 all-time in this series -- have won the two top-flight games via shutout and never conceded a goal to Brighton in five all-time meetings in London dating back to the first match in 1967.
Updated September 26, 2019