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First league start for Lukaku since October – How Chelsea could line up against Brighton

Chelsea host Brighton & Hove Albion hoping their Boxing Day victory over Aston Villa is a sign of things to come.

The Blues ran out 3-1 winners, with half-time substitute Romelu Lukaku making the difference.

He beautifully headed home from a pinpoint Callum Hudson-Odoi cross to put Chelsea ahead, before winning a late penalty, which was converted by Jorginho, following a surging run from the halfway line.

It was the kind of performance Chelsea had been missing since Diego Costa’s departure, and signalled their intentions for the remainder of the season. Lukaku even called them “the hunters now” in his post-match interview, showing they haven’t given up on the title yet.

They currently sit third in the league, and will see a home game against Brighton & Hove Albion, who hadn’t won in 12 games in all competitions before their own Boxing Day win over Brentford, as a must-win.

News that Ben Chilwell requires surgery on his ACL injury comes as a hammer blow for Thomas Tuchel, as will the knocks suffered by both N’Golo Kante and Thiago Silva against Villa.

But, how will Chelsea line up against Brighton?

Edouard Mendy will once again be in goal, although Kepa Arrizabalaga will need to be ready for when the Senegal international departs for the African Cup of Nations in January.

Trevoh Chalobah was forced off at half-time with a knock against Villa, and it appears he will miss out against The Seagulls; Cesar Azpilicueta will take his place.

Andreas Christensen and Antonio Rudiger will make up the rest of the back three.

Reece James didn’t have his best game against Villa but will stay at right wing-back, but Marcos Alonso could well be replaced by Saul Niguez. Tuchel wants a new left wing-back following Chilwell’s surgery, and the Spaniard looks set to drop back down to the bench.

Mateo Kovacic has returned to fitness, and he will partner Jorginho in Kante’s absence.

Mason Mount and Hudson-Odoi will play either side of Lukaku.

Potential Chelsea Starting XI vs Brighton

Chelsea vs Brighton - Football tactics and formations

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