Chelsea's exciting and expensive new squad starts their Premier League campaign at Brighton. Joe Townsend has two best bets for the game.
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Brighton v Chelsea
- Monday 8.15pm BST kick-off on Sky Sports
- Match Odds: Home 17/4 | Draw 3/1 | Away 8/13
Brighton were applauded for their style of play during Graham Potter's maiden season in charge, and while they flirted with relegation for a short time because of a failure to turn performances into points, drawing a league-high 14 matches, Albion ultimately pulled comfortably clear of danger.
Their best close-season signing could prove to be a player they didn't actually sign, but rather got back from a loan spell. Ben White's decision to sign a new contract following an excellent season at Leeds may solve a major defensive problem.
Crystal Palace were the only bottom half team to concede fewer goals than Potter's side last season. Their 54 goals against was the same as Monday's opponents Chelsea, who of course finished fourth in the table.
But Brighton's defensive record would've been much better had they not surrendered so meekly to the league's best almost every time they came up against them.
In their eight meetings with the eventual top four, the Seagulls conceded 23 goals, and only once did they let in fewer than two. That once, was this fixture last term, which ended 1-1. It also provided Albion's solitary point from those eight encounters.
Many of those goals came through individual errors as Albion insisted on playing out from the back, even against such potent attacking opponents. White's ability as a defender, but more crucially as a ball-player could see Brighton's overall goals conceded column shrink sharply.
However, it will be a very different Chelsea team that visit the Amex on Monday, compared to the XI that had to settle for a point just under 12 months ago.
A summer spending spree has seen Hakim Ziyech, Timo Werner, Kai Havertz, Ben Chilwell and Thiago Silva arrive at Stamford Bridge to some fanfare, while back in September there was little sign of Christian Pulisic making the kind of impact he did during Project Restart.
There will be an extra £300m worth of talent at Frank Lampard's disposal.
In an utterly bizarre turn of events, these sides actually met in a pre-season friendly on August 29 in front of 2,000 supporters at the Amex. Now, with the real football getting under way there will be no fans present.
Such are the times we currently live in.
While there is little you can take from those sort of games, it ended 1-1 by the way, what we can probably say with a fair amount of certainty is that Werner will start on Monday night; he took just four minutes to find the net that day.
Through a combination of quarantine, late arrivals, and injury the Blues' other new signings are less likely to feature. Pulisic has recovered from the hamstring injury he sustained in the FA Cup final, and will be in the squad.
Both teams to score is always a good bet with this Chelsea team given their attacking threat and lack of defensive assurance. It's happened in 11 of their past 13 matches away from Stamford Bridge.
While they did lose their final three Premier League games on the road last season, overall they excelled on the road, finishing fourth in the away table having only lost four of their opening 15 away trips.
I'm taking Chelsea and both teams to score at 12/5 despite Brighton's scoring issues in the latter stages of the campaign, because no matter who they're playing I struggle to imagine Lampard's team keeping a clean sheet. When on that rare occasion they do, it usually has a fair amount of luck in there.
The arrival of Chilwell for £50m means Marcos Alonso's days at Stamford Bridge are probably numbered, but his inclusion in the starting XI for the friendly mentioned suggests he will continue at left-back while the former Leicester recovers from injury.
Less interested in the defensive aspects of the job, Alonso is a Fantasy Football full-back, flying into the box whenever he gets half a chance in an attempt to plunder an attempt on goal.
In his four seasons at Chelsea, the Spaniard has averaged two shots per 90 minutes. Against an opponent who will be playing with a back three, leaving plenty of space for an attacking full-back like Alonso to bomb forward, he could have a field day.
And that is why he as short as 8/13 to record one shot on target. But I very much like the odds of 11/4 for him to double that tally, albeit with smaller stakes.
Score prediction: Brighton 1-3 Chelsea (Sky Bet odds: 11/1)
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