Monday Night Football features the most interesting story of this short Premier League off-season as Chelsea and their glut of new attacking talent head to the Amex Stadium.
Both Kai Havertz and Timo Werner are expected to start, while other new signings Hakim Ziyech, Ben Chilwell and Thiago Silva all likely absent with injury. This game may also come too quickly for last season’s breakout star Christian Pulisic
But once Chelsea get Pulisic, Havertz and Werner on the field together, they should possess a fearsome youthful front three that may lead a title challenge as quickly as this season.
Added to that, Chelsea underperformed their XG statistics quite badly last season, mainly due to historically poor goalkeeping from Kepa Arrizabalaga and replacing the Spaniard should see an improvement by itself.
In theory, a combination of these new signings and replacing Kepa should see Chelsea finish a lot closer to Man City and Liverpool, neither of whom have strengthened significantly so far in the window.
However, count me as somewhat of a sceptic. It feels like Chelsea have built a house without a foundation to some extent. Given how much Kepa dragged The Bluesdown last term, I would have expected goalkeeper to be the club’s number 1 priority.
However, they appear to be in talks for Edouard Mendy, from Rennes, a 28-year-old whose statistics are that of a middling Ligue 1 keeper. It would be unfair to write off Mendy before he has kicked a ball in blue, but it is a certainly a riskier signing than a proven Premier League performer like for example, Kasper Schmeichel or Nick Pope.
Thiago Silva looks a shrewd signing as a free transfer, and he looked to still retain a lot of his world class talent in the Champions League knockout stages. However, he is still 35 and while it is clichéd to say, it is simply a fact that Ligue 1 is a lower level than the Premier League with PSG holding pocket aces in almost every hand against overmatched opponents.
Relying on the Brazilian as Chelsea’s no.1 centre half at this stage of his career seems a bit fanciful and I would have expected more defensive reinforcements to be signed.
However, there is still plenty of time left in the transfer window and Roman Abramovich is clearly motivated to spend to give Lampard as much of a chance to succeed as possible.
Given Chelsea’s aforementioned absences which also include Cesar Azpilicueta and Mateo Kovacic, this is definitely a good time for Brighton to catch Chelsea.
The improvements to Graham Potter’s team have been more subtle than Chelsea, but are clear nonetheless with the hugely promising Ben White returning from Leeds, Joel Veltman joining from Ajax and Adam Lallana who will provide much needed creativity (when fit) to Graham Potter’s team, who too often looked short of ideas last term.
I would expect a free scoring game here given Chelsea’s attacking talent, but we should see some defensive vulnerability without Thaigo Silva and Azpilicueta.
If Chelsea haven’t solved their defensive issues from set pieces, then Dunk could be poised to capitalise.
He’s a huge threat in the air and even takes some attacking free kicks, so we should get a run for our money here. We do miss big Shane Duffy though, what a man!
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