The fixtures take us to the Bridge yet again, for a traditional kick-off time against the south-coast side. Club historian Rick Glanvill and club statistician Paul Dutton look ahead…
Saturday brings a 3pm kick-off and the fourth straight match at Stamford Bridge, where up to now in the league Chelsea have averaged 1.33 fewer points than on the road. Make the most of the home comforts, though – just one of the next five in all competitions is at the Bridge.
Brighton will also be the second set of seaside visitors to SW6 in four days, and the first of a sequence of three top-flight fixtures against clubs currently below Frank Lampard’s team in the table.
Though encounters between the two clubs have been few and far between down the years, the Blues have a 100 per cent record against the Sussex side in the league and have won 10 of the 12 matches in all competitions.
In fact, the Londoners are the only side in English league football they have played and never managed to beat. The aggregate goals tally of the past 10 games is 23 to Chelsea, two to the Seagulls.
Five more Blues brothers blooded
A best home-win record in the competition of seven goals put past Grimsby at the Bridge in the Carabao Cup also meant a wonderful Wednesday for Chelsea’s Academy. Callum Hudson-Odoi’s long-awaited presence meant that in the closing stages there were six young Blues brothers on the field, all showing that Cobham is producing not just supremely talented footballers, but ones full of character and brio.
After Pedro (32) and Marcos Alonso (28) made way for the two 17-year-olds, Tino Anjorin and Ian Maatsen, the average date of birth of the team was 3 April 1997, and average age 22 years and 175 days. (Goalie Willy Caballero is 38 on Saturday, by the way – many happy returns to him.)
Alongside those two substitutes, three other graduates made their full debut: Billy Gilmour, Marc Guehi and Reece James. The masterful display by 18-year-old Gilmour (who came off the bench against Sheffield United), earned the social media accolade ‘amazing’ from one of his predecessors in the Blues’ midfield, Cesc Fabregas.
James, meanwhile, set-up five chances, played a big part in two goals and expertly scored another, all while playing as a right-back. Already dubbed ‘Rolls-Reece’ by some supporters, the versatile 19-year-old became the first English player to hit the mark on home debut for the Blues since… Mason Mount last month.
To the obvious pleasure of the crowd, all the youngsters gave excellent accounts of themselves, and Hudson-Odoi capped his recovery from injury by carving out a host of chances and scoring his first goal since March to complete the teenage rampage.
Glut of Academy goals
So far, across all competitions, 13 of Chelsea’s 19 goals have come from a former Academy player. Tammy Abraham accounts for more than half of them.
Goals from former Academy players
Tammy Abraham 7
Mason Mount 3
Callum Hudson-Odoi 1
Reece James 1
Fikayo Tomori 1
Premier League top scorers
Sergio Aguero 8
Tammy Abraham 7
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang 6
Teemu Pukki 6
Raheem Sterling 5
Putting Liverpool defeat in perspective
Last Sunday’s loss to Liverpool came a few days before the anniversary of the Blues’ most recent spell at the top of the Premier League table: 22 September 2018. As disappointing and perhaps unfortunate as the 1-2 defeat was, it left Chelsea on the same number of points taken from the corresponding matches last season.
Also filed away in the cabinet of minor compensations is the fact that Chelsea won the second half against the Reds (as was the case at Molineux the week before) despite losing two of the starting back four to injuries. So hopefully the early season problem of fading after the break has been successfully addressed.
However, both the league leaders’ goals came from a regular source – crosses into the box – and the only disappointment from Wednesday night was what Frank Lampard described as ‘disastrous’ defending leading to Grimsby’s compensation notch.
Starting before his appointment, the Blues have now failed to keep a clean sheet in 10 straight games across all competitions. Between September and December 1996, Ruud Gullit’s team endured 16 games without a shut-out, and Lampard will want to remedy that situation as soon as possible.
Carabao Cup and Champions League catch-up
The fourth round Carabao Cup draw matched Chelsea with Manchester United for the fifth time in the competition. The last encounter was a hectic 5-4 extra time win for the Blues in October 2012.
In midweek Victor Osimhen became the first Lille striker in 50 years to score six goals in seven top flight matches at the start of his career. LOSC, who welcome the Blues in the Champions League next Wednesday, are away to seventh-placed Nice this weekend.
Potter’s spell at Brighton
Graham Potter, the Sussex club’s successor to Chris Hughton, was previously at Swansea and Ostersunds, where he rehearsed the 5-4-1/3-4-3 formation he has used ever since. Last weekend the possession-based approach, passing the ball out from the back and playing long to the striker to open up the pitch, secured a point at Newcastle.
Seven Brighton Academy players were handed debuts in the 3-1 home Carabao Cup loss to Aston Villa to rest men for Saturday. And while Shane Duffy hobbled off with a calf injury, the stalwart central defender, player of the year as part of a back four, has been a more peripheral contributor under the new man.
In the summer Bristol City were paid £20m for centre-back Adam Webster, acquired as much for his passing as his aerial strength. The remainder of the defensive trio is likely to comprise Lewis Dunk and Dan Burn, who was given licence to raid forward as if still in his previous left-back role during last weekend’s stalemate at St James’ Park.
Next weekend’s hosts, Southampton, are in action on Saturday at Tottenham, who have the same points total as Chelsea.
Chelsea Women’s derby clash with reigning WSL champions Arsenal at Kingsmeadow will now kick off at 3pm on Sunday 13 October as it has been selected for live coverage by BT Sport. Tickets are available here.
The Under-18s, winners of the Under-18 Premier League Cup in 2017/18, visit Blackburn on Saturday morning at the start of this year’s group stage of the competition. The others in Group A are Arsenal, and Wolves.
Premier League fixtures
Sheffield United v Liverpool 12.30pm (BT)
Aston Villa v Burnley 3pm
Bournemouth v West Ham 3pm
Chelsea v Brighton 3pm
Crystal Palace v Norwich 3pm
Tottenham v Southampton 3pm
Wolves v Watford 3pm
Everton v Manchester City 5.30pm (Sky)
Leicester v Newcastle 4.30pm (Sky)
Manchester United v Arsenal 8pm (Sky)