Brighton boss Graham Potter has credited Thomas Tuchel with transforming Chelsea into arguably Europe’s in-form team.
Tuchel has guided the reinvigorated Blues to the Champions League semi-finals, FA Cup final and back into contention for a top-four Premier League finish since replacing Frank Lampard in late January.
Potter takes his lowly Seagulls to Stamford Bridge on Tuesday evening in need of points to stave off the threat of relegation and anticipates a stern test from a side brimming with confidence.
“It’s going to be a tough game, that’s for sure,” said Potter.
“We are playing against a team that’s in as good a moment as anybody in probably European football.
“And I think that is credit to Thomas Tuchel and the players there and the staff because they’ve got into the Champions League last four – they did really well against Porto – and then to beat Manchester City (in the FA Cup semi-finals) is not easy.
“They’ve done really well and we’re not at their level – that’s fair to say, there’s no disrespect to us in terms of there is a big gap between quality and points.
“But we hope on the day we can be competitive and we want to try and get a positive result.”
The only notable setback of Tuchel’s reign to date was the shock 5-2 home loss to West Brom earlier this month, with 13 wins from 19 securing major progress in three competitions.
Brighton, whose sole victory over Chelsea came in a 1933 FA Cup tie, were beaten 3-1 by their upcoming opponents at the Amex Stadium back in September.
Potter believes the recent change of management coupled with additional settling in time for a host of high-profile summer signings make the west London club a different proposition to seven months ago.
“I would say so, yes. We played them in the first game of the season so they were in a different moment in terms of rhythm and form because it was a short pre-season,” he said.
“A new coach has come in with new ideas that you can see clearly.
“They have been on a fantastic run of results and that time has meant the players that they invested in over the summer have settled into the club and the Premier League and they’re getting the benefits of that now.”
Brighton travel to the capital six points clear of the bottom three and with two games in hand on 18th-placed Fulham, in addition to a superior goal difference.
Potter is confident his side can avoid the drop but insists there is still work to do.
“We believe we’re strong enough to pick up points, we have to focus on ourselves as it’s not about anyone else, it’s about us,” he said.
“Our performances over the course of the season have been good, we have to get more points as quickly as we can.”