Chelsea will be looking to put the controversy surrounding their involvement in the European Super League to one side when they face Brighton & Hove Albion in the Premier League at Stamford Bridge this evening.
The Blues, who have confirmed that they are one of 12 founding members to be involved in the controversial plan, will be looking to build on Saturday’s FA Cup semi-final victory against Manchester City at Wembley.
Moroccan ace Hakim Ziyech netted the only goal of the game, tapping home Timo Werner’s square pass just ten minutes into the second half, securing Chelsea a place in their second consecutive FA Cup final, in which they will face Brendan Rodgers’ Leicester City.
Whilst the Blues’ players and head coach Thomas Tuchel will be looking forward to the showpiece event next month, first they must focus on their quest to climb back into the top-four, although it remains to be seen whether or not a top-four finish will mean anything amid the Super League plans.
Tonight, the Blues face a Brighton side who are not yet safe from suffering relegation to the Championship, meaning they will most certainly be up for the battle, although it is likely that they will be fired up even more so following the events of the last two days.
As for matters on the pitch, which have been hugely successful for Chelsea since Tuchel took charge towards the end of January, all eyes will be on his starting line-up this evening, especially when taking into account that Mateo Kovacic is the only player to have been ruled out through injury.
Tuchel, though, has already confirmed that it is likely that goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga will retain his place between the sticks ahead of first choice shot stopper Edouard Mendy.
Arrizabalaga started the semi-final win over City and kept a fully merited clean sheet, bolstering his prospects of forcing his way back into the side under Tuchel.
After the game, Tuchel heaped praise on the Spaniard’s attitude and suggested that he will start this evening’s tussle with Graham Potter’s Seagulls.
Tuchel said: “It was clear that Kepa was in goal because he is a fantastic guy, an unbelievable sports guy and a fantastic character who has our trust.
“I have very rarely seen a guy who has so little minutes and has had to wait for his chances for so long and then give so much impact to a team. On a mental level, he offers so much support and is so professional. He is a big character.
“I think everybody, including the two other goalkeepers, were wishing for a top performance and a clean sheet from him. I’m very happy for him that he delivered and it is very likely that he has another match against Brighton maybe.”
This season, the former Athletic Bilbao shot-stopper has been forced to play second fiddle to summer signing Mendy, who has been impressive in his debut season in England.
Mendy has racked up 36 appearances this season for the Blues, keeping 21 clean sheets in the process, meaning he has made it difficult for Arrizabalaga to stand any chance of taking the No.1 spot away from him.
Since Tuchel was appointed as Frank Lampard’s successor towards the end of January, Arrizabalaga has made four appearances, keeping clean sheets in all of them.
Of those four outings only one of them has been in the Premier League, coming in the 2-0 win over Newcastle United back in February.