Brighton & Hove Albion vs Newcastle United
Venue: Amex Stadium
Referee: Anthony Taylor
TV: Sky Sports
Saturday night sees Brighton & Hove Albion take on Newcastle United in a relegation six-pointer. Fulham’s return to form, coupled with Brighton’s perpetual xG woes, has seen the fight for the much-dreaded 18th spot become quite a tussle, contrary to expectations that most fans had at the infancy of the season.
Steve Bruce presently is, and has been walking a tightrope for what seems like half a season now, and latest reports speculate the former Manchester United man could be shown the door should his side succumb at the hands of Graham Potter’s on Saturday. Chris Wilder – who himself parted ways with Sheffield United very recently over his lack of control over ground facilities and transfers – is said to be the man Mike Ashley is most keen on signing for the Magpies’ dugout.
Newcastle United never seemed to have fully recovered from the departure of Rafael Benitez in 2019, and signs of his influence and management seem to shadow over St. James’ even today; Steve Bruce will be hoping for survival this season, some fresh funds and a post-COVID-19 world will help him provide the desired background to mould Newcastle to his will. For that, beating Brighton over the weekend will be essential.
The Seagulls have been the definition of unlucky (or inefficiency, depending on your take on things) this season; based purely on xG alone, Graham Potter’s side should be 9th in the table, a mammoth 21 points higher than they’ve managed to collect in reality – the highest differential in the Premier League. A victory over Southampton in their most recent outing will no doubt have settled some of the anxiety in the camp, but they will know that the job isn’t yet done by any means.
Fulham, having played a game extra, take to the pitch first over the weekend, with Leeds standing in their way and levelling with Brighton on points. We can be sure that both sides will be watching the match with bated breath, and both managers will be spurring their sides to dig deep and capture all three points, regardless of Fulham’s result.
Adam Webster has been ruled out until at least the international break with a foot injury, with Graham Potter mentioning earlier this month that “we won’t see him this side of [international break]”. Aaron Connolly has a cracked rib, and he too will only be back after the break.
Tariq Lamptey’s hamstring hasn’t responded “as well as we’d like” to initial treatments, with surgery being the fallback option; one which would rule him out for the rest of the season. Dan Burn was taken off at half-time against Southampton with a hamstring injury, and the gaffer “didn’t want to take the chance” with him with such a crucial period of the season coming up.
Miguel Almiron is getting along “very, very nicely”, and so there’s hope yet that he may be ready to feature on Saturday. However, I personally feel Steve Bruce will opt against putting him into the lineup right away, and we should see the Paraguayan in action a little bit later on.
Allan Saint-Maximin should optimistically be back after the international break. Callum Wilson is working with the physios and in light training, but seems a little bit further away from a full recovery. He too should likely be back after the international break.
Predicted Starting XIs
Brighton (4-4-2): Sanchez; Veltman, White, Dunk, Zeqiri; Gross, Lallana, Bissouma, Trossard; Welbeck, Maupay
Newcastle (4-3-3): Dubravka; Krafth, Lascelles, Clark, Dummett; Willock, Shelvey, Hayden; Joelinton, Fraser, Gayle
Predicted Scoreline: Brighton 1-0 Newcastle
I believe Newcastle’s injuries in attack may hamper them going forward, and expect Brighton to extend their gap over both Fulham and Newcastle with a victory on Saturday.