Brighton & Hove Albion-Chelsea Preview
Thomas Tuchel has told his Chelsea players to focus on keeping their top-four destiny in their own hands by seeing off Brighton and Hove Albion in Tuesday's Premier League clash.
The Blues booked a place in the final of the FA Cup, where Leicester City await next month, thanks to an impressive 1-0 win over Manchester City on Saturday.
Chelsea also have a Champions League semi-final with Real Madrid to look forward to, but Tuchel's immediate focus is on Premier League matters.
Tuchel's men can climb back into the top four with a positive result against Brighton in midweek, before then travelling to West Ham - the side currently in fourth - on Saturday.
In a week dominated by talk of a European Super League being formed, which Chelsea will be involved in, Tuchel does not want any distractions.
"We need to make sure we're not in a situation where it impacts out preparations for the game," he said.
"It's best we don't get involved in sports politics and all these situations.
"Hopefully my staff can stay calm, like we usually are, and can have an influence on the players so they don't get distracted. Hopefully we can perform the way we want to.
"We have a crucial week coming up with Brighton and then West Ham. It's in our hands to make a huge step and we build on a very successful, emotional, and demanding week."
Brighton are winless in their last 14 meetings with Chelsea, losing 12 and drawing two, and are still in need of points to confirm their Premier League safety.
Head coach Graham Potter expects a very tough test at Stamford Bridge against a team he believes is arguably the best in Europe thanks to the work of Tuchel.
"It's going to be a tough game, that's for sure," Potter said. "We are playing against a team that's in as good a moment as anybody in European football.
"And I think that is credit to Tuchel and the players there and the staff. They've done really well and we're not at their level - that's fair to say."
Chelsea - Kai Havertz
Big-money signing Havertz has not had the finest of first seasons at Stamford Bridge and was only introduced late on in the cup semi-final against Man City at the weekend.
However, he impressed in the 4-1 win over Crystal Palace in Chelsea's most recent league game when scoring one and assisting another, having previously been directly involved in just three goals in 22 league appearances.
Brighton - Robert Sanchez
Chelsea have scored six goals in their last two league games, so it could be a busy occasion for Brighton goalkeeper Sanchez.
The 23-year-old, who earned a call-up to the senior Spain squad last month, has kept a clean sheet in 40 per cent of his 20 Premier League appearances (eight out of 20), which is the best such ratio of any Brighton keeper in the competition.
- Brighton have lost all six of their away games against Chelsea in all competitions, with the Seagulls failing to score in each of those six visits to Stamford Bridge (14 conceded).
- Chelsea have never been behind in seven Premier League meetings with Brighton - only three teams have ever played more against an opponent in the competition without going behind; Newcastle against Nottingham Forest (eight), Man City against Sheffield United (10) and the Blues themselves against Portsmouth (14).
- Tuchel's side's last home league game ended in a shock 5-2 defeat to West Brom. In the Roman Abramovich era (since 2003-04), the Blues have only lost consecutive home league games twice - in November 2011 under Andre Villas-Boas and December 2019 under Frank Lampard.
- Brighton have kept 10 clean sheets in the Premier League this season, with seven of those coming since the turn of the year - they last registered more shutouts in a top-flight campaign in 1981-82 (14).
- Tuchel's first 10 Premier League games in charge of Chelsea produced just 13 goals (F11 A2), at an average of 1.3 per game. The Blues' last two league games have seen 12 goals scored (six for and six against), at an average of six per game.
Updated April 19, 2021