Undefeated Chelsea boss Potter returns to Brighton as the battle for the top four heats up

After nine games on the job, Graham Potter remains undefeated as Chelsea manager. On Saturday he is looking to extend that streak into double figures when he returns to the Premier League at his former club Brighton and Hove Albion.

Potter, who Brighton lured from Swansea City in 2019, took over at Stamford Bridge following the sacking of Thomas Tuchel. While Chelsea have not been spectacular since arriving, the 47-year-old has taken little time to get his message across. Still, back-to-back draws in their last two Premier League games – away to Brentford and home to Manchester United, games in which they struggled to create chances – resulted in fifth place in the table.

Victory in Salzburg on Tuesday meant Chelsea reached the last 16 of the Champions League, but Potter will be keen to get back on track in the league when the race for the top four spots heats up.

The manager had his critics in Brighton but the majority of the club’s supporters took a positive view of his time. The club’s form suggests he will be sorely missed. Brighton are winless in five Premier League games under Italian Roberto de Zerbi and have scored once in their last four games since a thrilling 3-3 draw at Liverpool.

The omens do not bode well for De Zerbi to break that order as Brighton have never beaten Chelsea in the Premier League, losing six and drawing four, and in fact have beaten them just once in their history, a draw in the FA Cup in 1933. De Zerbi’s side, who are in ninth place, impressed in a 3-1 defeat by Manchester City last weekend and defender Joel Veltman says Brighton fans shouldn’t be too fainthearted.

“There are still things we need to work on, but we’re making progress all the time and we’ll get there,” he said. “Last Saturday we showed a lot of courage against one of the best teams in Europe to play through their lines and we created chances. We did well without possession and were compact.”

Chelsea’s home draw with United allowed Newcastle United to move into the top four on goal difference and Eddie Howe’s side are now being taken seriously as contenders for Champions League spots. Newcastle have lost once all season and last week’s 2-1 win at Tottenham Hotspur was a big statement.

They host Aston Villa on Saturday when Villa’s new manager Unai Emery is likely to be in the stands while awaiting clearance to start work. Former Villarreal manager Emery was Newcastle’s original target when they sacked Steve Bruce a year ago but Howe’s appointment has proved a masterstroke.

Villa will have Aaron Danks at the helm for the last time after scoring a 4-0 win over Brentford a few days after Steven Gerrard was sacked. In a sign of leaders Arsenal’s progress this season, last weekend’s 1-1 draw at Southampton was seen as a blip when in fact it was a game that could have ended in defeat in recent seasons.

Mikel Arteta’s side, two points clear of Manchester City, will look to overcome that setback at home against a Nottingham Forest side who stunned Liverpool last week.

City start the action looking to improve Leicester City, while third-placed Tottenham Hotspur will look to recover from back-to-back league defeats when they face Bournemouth. Liverpool host Leeds United in the late game on Saturday. Sixth-placed Manchester United hosts West Ham on Sunday.

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