WATCH LIVE : Chelsea VS Brighton (EFL Cup)
Mauricio Pochettino has a new roster issue hampering his preparations ahead of the EFL Cup fourth round. Against Brighton & Hove Albion on Wednesday, the Chelsea manager will be bereft of the services of nine first-team players.
Malo Gusto is the latest absentee, with the Frenchman seeing red against Aston Villa this past weekend.
The 20-year-old has joined Marcus Bettinelli (knee), Wesley Fofana (knee), Romeo Lavia (ankle), and Christopher Nkunku (knee) on the sidelines.
Meanwhile, Reece James (knee), Trevoh Chalobah (thigh), Benoit Badiashile (hamstring), and Carney Chukwuemeka (knee) have made progress in their recovery from their injuries.
But the game against Brighton & Hove Albion has likely come too soon for them. The same goes for Noni Madueke, although he should be on the bench.
Djordje Petrovic will likely make a rare start for Chelsea on Wednesday, taking his spot between the sticks. The Blues should line up in a 4-2-3-1 formation in front of the Serbian international against Brighton & Hove Albion.
Gusto’s absence means Pochettino needs to be clever with his team selection. So, Axel Disasi will be the right-back, with Ben Chilwell returning on the left flank. Meanwhile, Thiago Silva and Levi Colwill should form the central defensive partnership.
As for the midfield unit, Lesley Ugochukwu should return, pairing up with Moises Caicedo in the double pivot. Enzo Fernandez should be the third midfielder, with the Argentine international taking up advanced positions.
Finally, Nicolas Jackson should spearhead the attack, with Mykhailo Mudryk and Cole Palmer being the two wide attackers.
Chelsea Lineup (4-2-3-1)
Sanchez, Disasi, Colwill, Cucurella, Maatsen, Ugochukwu, Caicedo, Mudryk, Palmer, Chilwell, Jackson
Brighton & Hove Albion
Unlike his counterpart in the Chelsea dugout, Roberto De Zerbi does not have many pressing concerns to deal with ahead of the trip to Stamford Bridge. The Brighton & Hove Albion manager will be without four first-team players on Wednesday.
James Milner and Pascal Gross are close to recovering from their respective muscular injuries. But the EFL Cup third-round clash has come too soon for the duo. Meanwhile, Jakub Moder and Julio Enciso are long-term absentees due to their knee complaints.
Bart Verbruggen committed a dreadful error against Bournemouth and will lose his spot to Jason Steele. Brighton should line up in a 4-2-3-1 formation in front of Steele, with Tariq Lamptey, Jan Paul van Hecke, Igor, and Pervis Estupinan forming the defensive unit.
As for the midfield department, Adam Lallana and Carlos Baleba should pair up in the double pivot. Finally, Joao Pedro, Kaoru Mitoma, Ansu Fati, and Solly March should form the offensive unit for the visitors.
The duo will aim to help Brighton control the proceedings against Chelsea. Their presence in the middle of the park will also allow the four attackers to express themselves better.
Brighton Lineup (4-2-3-1)
Verbruggen, Lamptey, Hecke, Igor, Estupinan, Dahoud, Baleba, Bounanotte, Ansu Fati, Mitoma, Joao Pedro
Brighton & Hove Albion are unbeaten in their last seven League Cup away games (W5 D2), although their two draws in that run have resulted in penalty shootout defeats (vs Leicester City in 2021/22 and Charlton Athletic last season).
Chelsea lost 2-0 to Manchester City in the League Cup third round last season, but have not gone out at this stage of the competition in consecutive campaigns since 1999/00/2000/01.
Brighton & Hove Albion have won their last two meetings with Chelsea in all competitions (both in the Premier League last season), having won just one of their first 18 against the Blues (D5 L12).
Wednesday will be the first-ever League Cup meeting between Chelsea and Brighton in any cup competition since a 2-0 win for the Blues in the 1972/73 FA Cup. Chelsea have failed to score in each of their last three games.