Impotent attacks may struggle to break through
Draw appeals in Amex encounter
Sky Sports Premier League, 12.30pm Saturday
Chelsea head to the Amex on a run of five matches without a win. They’ve drawn six of their last eight fixtures including each of their last five and another stalemate may be on the cards here.
Certainly Norwich had little difficulty holding Chelsea to a draw on Wednesday night in the FA Cup.
Granted it wasn’t Chelsea’s strongest line-up at kick-off, but it had more of a first-team look by the time the final whistle blew with N'Golo Kante and Eden Hazard having to be summoned from the bench in Conte’s quest to avoid humiliation.
The two other negatives for Conte were the red cards shown to Pedro and the luckless Alvaro Morata, who is unfairly copping loads of flak from neutral observers despite looking a real threat.
Chelsea will miss him by the seaside and given their form and the timing of this fixture, the champions look short enough.
Albion have lost only one of their last 12 at home – that was against Liverpool – and while the hosts are also in poor shape having not win in four league outings, they’ve got the tools and the defensive strength to be able to avoid defeat.
There’s a case to be made for backing Brighton in the double-chance market but given the impotence of both teams at the moment, the draw is the preferred wager. No goalscorer at 17-2 wouldn’t be the worst alternative.
Brighton are playing okay but are crying out for some firepower – only Swansea have bagged fewer than their 17-goal tally.
They love to ping long diagonals out from the back to stretch defences and Glenn Murray is a physical threat, but it’s hard to see the Seagulls overly perturbing Andreas Christensen and his teammates.
Indeed, they haven’t troubled any of the top teams this season – their record against the big boys is played six, lost six, and just one goal scored. Four of those defeats have been by 2-0 scorelines, although three of them were 0-0 at half-time.
Albion have eventually succumbed though the doubt over Chelsea is whether they are playing well enough to overpower anyone at the moment.
Successive draws against Arsenal (twice), Norwich (twice) and Leicester, five games in which they’ve managed just three goals, highlights a side struggling to break down organised outfits.
They were even second best at home to Leicester last Saturday.
If Conte is, as reported, looking to the likes of Peter Crouch or Andy Carroll to solve deficiencies up top, then the lunatics truly have taken over the asylum and the Italian may as well pack his bags. Edin Dzeko makes sense, but Crouch?
Chelsea have yet to go three consecutive away league games without a win under Conte, but then they haven’t looked this ordinary before.
A fully fit Ross Barkley might give them a lift, but it’s doubtful whether he is. The rest look jaded.
1pt 3-1 BetBright
Steve Sidwell is Albion's one long-term absentee.
Alvaro Morata and Pedro are suspended. Gary Cahill and Cesc Fabregas are injured but Ross Barkley will be in the squad.
Chelsea have had four 0-0 draws in their last eight matches.
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