The meeting of Brighton and Hove Albion and Chelsea at the Amex Stadium on Saturday pits two good friends against each other in the opposite dug-outs.
Brighton boss Gus Poyet welcomes his old Stamford Bridge team mate Roberto di Matteo to the Seagulls’ impressive new(ish) stadium for a friendly in more ways than one.
Poyet and Di Matteo enjoyed a successful spell playing for Chelsea in the mid-to-late 1990s, when the revolution of the Blues as a force at home and abroad was just beginning.
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Of course, it was Roman Abramovich who really took the club into a new stratosphere (and just in time too, if reports of imminent administration before his takeover are to be believed) but it was the initial foreign invasion, of which Di Matteo and Poyet played an important part, that started to turn Chelsea into the club you see today.
There were only 24 goals in Brighton’s 11 matches at home against the top-half sides in the Championship, which gives you an idea of how Poyet sets up against better outfits, and 61% of Brighton’s matches last term produced two goals or fewer.
Both players started off their managerial careers in the lower leagues, too, but while Poyet is still in the Championship (though he is surely Premier League-bound), Di Matteo bounced back from his sacking at West Brom to win two trophies with Chelsea after taking over as interim coach last season, which earned him, even by default, a two-year permanent deal at the Bridge.
How long he remains there is open to question – if Pep Guardiola was to make himself available, Di Matteo would be out the door faster than Usain Bolt – but for now, it is his job and the Russian owner is splashing the cash to ensure that the Blues have a good crack at winning back the Premier League title.
Uruguayan Poyet said this week he is delighted that his old mucka managed to win the Champions League trophy for Chelsea and spoke of his pride at having the European champions visit Brighton’s impressive Amex Stadium for what I think will be a competitive game.
Predictably, Chelsea are firm favourites at 9/20, with Brighton at 19/4 and the draw at 3/1, and I think it could end up being closer than those odds suggest.
Of course, Chelsea possess far more quality, especially now they have added Eden Hazard and Marko Marin to their ranks, but Brighton are tough to beat at home and could make life difficult for the Blues.
Poyet has already spoken about “being well organised” on Saturday and it doesn’t take much of a leap of faith to imagine Brighton sitting deep and making themselves hard to play against.
Brighton lost just four of their 23 home games in their first season in the Championship and lost only two of their games at the Amex against the other sides in the top half of the division.
So I don’t think Chelsea will have it all their own way and the 6/5 that there are under 2.5 goals has some mileage. Punters registering with bwin can claim a free £20 bet and placing this on Brighton v Chelsea to contain less than three goals will return £44 if successful.
After all, there were only 24 goals in Brighton’s 11 matches at home against the top-half sides in the Championship, which gives you an idea of how Poyet sets up against better outfits, and 61% of Brighton’s matches last term produced two goals or fewer.
And with Chelsea still bedding in new players and regaining fitness – Ashley Cole admitted yesterday that the Blues players need more minutes on the pitch – Brighton’s seven previous friendlies could give them a fitness advantage. So it could be tight and the odds against on under 2.5 goals is as good a bet as any.
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