Big match preview: Chelsea vs Brighton

Chelsea No.9 shirt Alvaro Morata

Chelsea were held to a 0-0 draw last time out at Everton but a much improved performance can be expected with the return of Alvaro Morata.

Brighton, on the other hand, recorded what was only their 5th Premier League victory of the season last week against Watford, ending a almost 2-month-long spell of 7 games without a victory.

The Chelsea manager opted not to use the Belgian forward from the off, despite Alvaro Morata missing the game due to suspension.

Defender David Luiz is still ruled out and midfielder Charly Musonda is absent because of a groin problem.

Instead, Conte opted to start a front three of Eden Hazard, Pedro Rodriguez and Willian, and left Batshuayi on the bench.

Now in third place, Chelsea's 0-0 draw with Everton on Saturday stopped a run of three consecutive wins in all competitions.

Shane Duffy is available again after returning from suspension.

Striker Tomer Hemed praised his side's effort.

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Antonio Conte's side have been unable to live with Manchester City's relentless form this season although Chelsea's title defence has certainly not been anything like the disastrous one served up under Jose Mourinho in the 2015-16 campaign.

Chelsea have won all four of their previous league matches against Brighton, though this will be the first such meeting since March 1989 in the second tier.

Chelsea have led at half-time in six of their last seven victories in all competitions.

Brighton have failed to win a match on Boxing day in their last 8 attempts. That will be quickly fixed on Boxing Day as Chelsea look to rebound from the effects of a Big Sam Special. Chelsea dominated the match, keeping more than 60 percent of the ball and firing eight shots on target while holding Everton to none.

We predict a narrow, hard fought victory for the Blues at Stamford Bridge.

Jonathan Pearce: "With the teams around them in the table all having winnable-looking back-to-back games to round off 2017, Chelsea must take advantage of this game, and Stoke at home on Saturday. Sometimes you can do everything well and not get the result you want, but (Saturday) we were the better team and deserved the win".

For the visitors, Pascal Gross stands out as the key man if they are to pull off a Stamford Bridge upset.

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