The festive fixtures just keep on coming as Brighton host Bournemouth in the Premier League’s lunchtime kick off on Saturday.
Both sides come into this one on 20 points at the halfway mark this season, and are just two points off safety after Aston Villa secured a 1-0 win at home to Norwich on Boxing Day.
Despite the league table potentially suggesting otherwise, Graham Potter has done a fantastic job with Brighton thus far. Instilling a possession-based philosophy from the get-go, Potter has maximised the potential of this Seagull squad and if they start becoming just a little more clinical in front of goal, there’s no reason as to why Potter can’t guide the south coast side closer to mid-table before May.
Eddie Howe, meanwhile, has been forced to deal with a plethora of key injuries to his Bournemouth squad in recent weeks and is a major factor in their underwhelming standing in the table at the moment.
With David Brooks out, Ryan Fraser occupied by contract negotiations and the strike duo often failing to fire, the Cherries have struggled mightily in the final third as of late – scoring just twice in their last five. To surge up the table, Howe will have to get the best out of Josh King and Callum Wilson.
Where to Watch
|When is Kick Off?||Saturday 28 December|
|What Time is Kick Off?||12:30 (BST)|
|TV Channel/Live Stream||Sky Sports|
After making five changes for the Boxing Day trip to north London, Potter is expected to ring the changes once more for this one.
Neal Maupay, Yves Bissouma and Leandro Trossard – who were used as substitutes last time out – are all expected to start along with unused subs Davy Propper and Martin Montoya.
The quick turnaround of fixtures, however, means that Lewis Dunk is unlikely to recover from illness in time for Saturday’s game. Therefore, Shane Duffy is expected to keep his place in the side.
Eddie Howe, similarly, will be looking to rotate after their tough contest with Arsenal on Thursday.
But, they will still be without Nathan Aké, Lloyd Kelly, Adam Smith and Charlie Daniels in defence while Diego Rico returns from suspension.
Howe’s rotation may see the likes of Callum Wilson, Josh King and Ryan Fraser all get rests.
|Brighton||Ryan; Montoya, Webster, Duffy, Burn; Propper, Bissouma; Trossard, Mooy; Maupay, Connolly.|
|Bournemouth||Ramsdale; Stacey, Cook, Mepham, Rico; H.Wilson; Lerma, Billing, Stanislas; Gosling; Solanke.|
Opta’s Stats and Sound Betting Advice
Slumping Brighton and Hove Albion have won just one of their last eight Premier League games (D1, L6) and their recent history against Bournemouth provides little to suggest they will arrest the slide.
Bournemouth have an identical record over their previous eight league games, but the Cherries are unbeaten in the four Premier League matches between the two sides (W3, D1).
Eddie Howe’s men were 5-0 winners in last season’s corresponding fixture and, if they are to produce a similar result this time around, Callum Wilson may prove key. He has scored in all three of his league games at the Amex Stadium and provided two assists in the 5-0 win.
These two have met on 110 occasions in history with the maiden fixture dating way back to 1923. Bournemouth have got the better of Brighton in 43 of those 110 games while the Seagulls have won 38 of them.
The Cherries have dominated this fixture as of late as well. They’ve lost just one of their last 12 against their south coast rivals in all competitions and won the corresponding fixture last season 5-0.
Brighton’s sole win in the last 12 outings against Eddie Howe’s men came in a 3-1 victory at the start of the year in an FA Cup third-round tie.
Patchy runs of form for both sides mean that neither will come into Saturday’s clash full of confidence.
Eddie Howe, however, will be pleased with his side after they picked up a hard-fought point against a rejuvenated Arsenal team who were playing under the leadership of Mikel Arteta for the first time.
Nevertheless, this injury-ridden Bournemouth side are only two points off safety and performances like the one they put out against Burnley last weekend showed why they’re in the position they’re in. Despite dominating the ball, they failed to create anything in the final third, eventually succumbing to a 1-0 defeat after Jay Rodriguez struck late on for the Clarets.
Persistently failing to kick on after impressive results has seen the Cherries fail to climb the table. Brighton, meanwhile, are winless in their last three after securing four points against Wolves and Arsenal at the start of December.
However, they’ve continued to impress under Potter – who’s adopted an entertaining possession-based style of football since taking over in the summer – with the former Swansea boss certainly getting the most out of his squad this season. In particular, Aaron Mooy, Neal Maupay, Dan Burn and Adam Webster have all enjoyed stellar campaigns thus far for the Seagulls.
However, for all their easy on the eye play, their inability to finish off chances and capitalise on their possessional domination are major factors as to why they’re only two points clear of the drop coming into this one.
Nevertheless, here’s how the pair have fared in their last five outings.
|Spurs 2-1 Brighton (26/12)||Bournemouth 1-1 Arsenal (26/12)|
|Brighton 0-1 Sheffield Utd (21/12)||Bournemouth 0-1 Burnley (21/12)|
|Crystal Palace 1-1 Brighton (16/12)||Chelsea 0-1 Bournemouth (14/12)|
|Brighton 2-2 Wolves (08/12)||Bournemouth 0-3 Liverpool (07/12)|
|Arsenal 1-2 Brighton (05/12)||Crystal Palace 1-0 Bournemouth (03/12)|
Brighton were, once again, impressive in their Boxing Day defeat to Spurs and with a few key figures returning to the starting XI, they should have enough to overcome a Bournemouth side that will likely be weakened.
The Cherries have often disappointed after picking up results against the ‘big’ sides and something similar could happen here.
Potter’s men to win this one and, of course, look bloody good doing so.
Prediction: Brighton 3-1 Bournemouth