Brighton and Hove Albion vs Southampton
Venue: Amex Stadium
Referee: Kevin Friend
Graham Potter’s Brighton will aim to extend their unbeaten streak to three games this weekend as they come up against an underperforming Southampton side at the Amex.
In all competitions, Brighton have only won one game against Southampton (D-5 L-4) and that win came back in 2012 while both teams were still battling it out in the Championship. Since being in the Premier League, the sides have met four times, with three of these resulting in a draw.
Up until this weekend, the rivalry on the South Coast has been a relatively even affair. Both sides were dangerously flirting in and around the relegation zone last season, and very narrowly missed the drop.
Brighton have to be respected due to the manner in which they have started this Premier League season. Four points from their first two games, including a comfortable victory away from home on the first day of the season and a point against a strong looking West Ham side, is not something to bypass and is an incredible testament to Potter and his men.
Their intent on improving on their position last year is evident and so far, so good. The departure of Chris Hughton last season turned a few heads as realistically, without a huge financial reinvestment, Brighton’s targets were to simply remain in the Premier League. However, Potter has instilled excitement within the Brighton fans and they will be hoping that this run can continue.
Glenn Murray will surely be the first name on the team sheet against the Saints as he has scored in three of his last four appearances. His physical presence will be something that Potter will ensure is used to its potential, and is almost guaranteed to cause Southampton huge problems. There is a lot of competition for places within the Seagull’s ranks, with the likes of Aaron Mooy, Florin Andone, and Jurgen Locadia likely to be on the bench.
This gives them a huge boost to have such players waiting to be brought on. Brighton are also in EFL Cup action on Tuesday so this will present an opportunity for Potter to give game time to those who have not featured, and also it is a chance to introduce the new signings into the ranks.
One to watch is the Belgian winger, Leandro Trossard. After scoring on his debut against West Ham, he will look to cement his place in the team over Locadia. A perfect opportunity lies ahead as Southampton have conceded five goals in their opening games, mainly from defensive errors. Capitalising on these mistakes is vital for sides such as Brighton as Hasenhuttl will undoubtedly be looking to sharpen up the defence as soon as he possibly can.
That is a whole lot more than what can be said for Ralph Hasenhuttl’s Southampton. A club in a similar position to Brighton, who would have wanted to push on this season and prove why they should retain the right for a place in the Premier League. Hasenhuttl undoubtedly saved Southampton in the latter end of last season. It is yet to see if his introduction was simply the ‘new manager boost’ or if his influence is really going to change Southampton’s fortunes.
One benefit that Hasenhuttl has is time. We are only two games into the season, and one of his defeats came against a Liverpool side who will surely be aiming for the League title. Their performance against Liverpool was far more impressive than their 3-0 defeat to Burnley, so if Hasenhuttl can keep improving his team’s performances, points will eventually make their way on to the board.
Southampton will likely stay with their formation and personnel from their game against Liverpool. Many chances were created and many who were watching the game will have felt that the Saints deserved at least a point. Defensive errors were the bane of Southampton’s season last year, with points being practically thrown away, and this season is beginning to have parallels.
Defensive mistakes cost two goals against a Liverpool side who were not on top form. Three goals were conceded in 12 minutes against Burnley, in a game where the Saints looked like they were in control. If Hasenhuttl’s men can maintain focus for the whole of the 90 minutes, then they are well within a chance of gaining points. However, they are coming up against a confident Brighton side in their own back yard. An interesting affair awaits.
Predicted Starting XIs
Brighton (3-4-3): Ryan; Duffy, Dunk, Burn; Montoya, Propper, Stephens, March; Gross, Murray, Trossard.
Southampton (5-2-1-2): Gunn; Valery, Bednarek, Yoshida, Vestergaard, Bertrand; Hojbjerg, Romeu; Ward-Prowse; Redmond, Adams.
Prediction: Brighton 2-1 Southampton
Southampton will start the better side. However, Brighton’s solidarity in their defence will keep the Saints out while they bide their time to find a weakness in the Southampton defence. The Seagulls will then proceed to snatch their opportunity and steal all three points against the Saints.