An extensive pre-season programme for Brighton & Hove Albion flies into full throttle this weekend, when the Seagulls welcome English giants and Champions of Europe, Chelsea, to the Amex Stadium for the Blues’ only pre-season friendly on British soil.
Much like the friendly versus Tottenham Hotspur that officially opened the American Express Community Stadium last year, this pre-season battle against Premier League opposition is set to be a special occasion for Albion fans, seeing new signings in action for the first time as Gus Poyet looks to gun down the side with which he spent the best of his playing days.
Brighton should be able to name rumoured Leeds’ transfer-target Craig Mackail-Smith in their starting line-up after the striker recovered from a groin strain suffered at Lewes FC, but his fellow goal-getter Will Hoskins is sidelined once again and will probably miss the start of the Championship season with a fractured foot.
Gus Poyet has told reporters that Albion are in the business-end of pre-season now, and he wants to name a full strength line-up for this huge fixture: “Now it’s real. I know I can change as many players as I like but the idea is to give 90 minutes to the players who perform. They are playing for their starting shirts.”
Gus’ former Chelsea team-mate and current Blues boss Roberto Di-Matteo should have a similar philosophy. Having just completed four pre-season fixtures in the USA, this will be Chelsea’s first game on English soil since being crowned European Champions in May and they’ll have a host of big names ready to make an impression.
Eden Hazard and Marko Marin have been particular impressive in pre-season and should expect to get decent playing time in this one, while Romelu Lukaku looks like he may have a shot at more first team action this season following the departure of Didier Drogba. Add to the mix usual suspects such as John Terry, Ramires and Frank Lampard, it appears Albion are certainly preparing for their toughest task of pre-season.
Kick-off is at 3pm.
Tickets are on sale here, and available to fans with purchase history in the last three years.
The Champions League trophy will be paraded prior to kick-off, so get to your seats early.