Brighton and Hove Albion vs West Bromwich Albion
Brighton will take on West Brom in the Premier League on Saturday after the international break at the AMEX stadium in the first top flight meeting between the sides since 1983.
Chris Houghton’s men are yet to win in the league this season and are going up against a Tony Pulis side who are unbeaten so far this season, taking 7 out of a possible 9 points. The Seagulls have never beaten the Baggies in the top flight, drawing 5 and losing 3.
Brighton have had a slow start to life back in the top flight, failing to score while losing twice and gaining a point against Watford so will be desperate to take something from the game. West Brom will be looking to build on their solid performances and would have marked this as a winnable game when the fixtures were released, but equally Houghton will be looking to build on a positive performance against Watford and should not be overlooked.
Glenn Murray could return to full fitness and start, however Saturday is likely to come too soon for Beram Kayal, Baggies academy product Izzy Brown, Steve Sidwell and Sam Baldock. Tomer Hemed could still make the starting VI but will be subject to a late fitness test on an injury which kept him out of Israel’s world cup qualifier against Italy on Wednesday.
Hal Robson-Kanu is serving the second game of his three-match suspension, while Gareth McAuley has been ruled out. Jonny Evans, subject of plenty of transfer speculation over the summer, should be available for selection again.
Playing in a 4-4-1-1 formation, Brighton are likely to start with Mat Ryan in goal but new signing Tim Krul could get the nod ahead of him. Bruno, Lewis Dunk, Shane Duffy and Markus Suttner should make up the back four. Anthony Knockaert could start on the right, Dale Stephens and Davy Propper will play in the centre of the field with Solly March playing left midfield. Glenn Murray could play just off Tomer Hemed if both are passed fit, however Pascal Gross could slot into the deeper role if either miss the game.
Given West Broms late flurry in the transfer market, there is likely to be some change to the team that drew with Stoke. Foster will keep his place in goal, however the return of Jonny Evans should unseat Alan Nyom or Chris Brunt; Brunt’s quality with set piece delivery might be enough to keep his place. The back four could be composed of Craig Dawson, Ahmed Hegazi, Jonny Evans and Chris Brunt (Alan Nyom could start at left back instead).
It will be interesting if Kieran Gibbs makes a full debut but the likelihood of Pulis uprooting 2 of his so far solid defence seems unlikely. Gareth Barry will sit in front of the back four, with PSG loanee Grzegorz Krychowiak (making his debut) and Jake Livermore joining him in the middle. Philips will play on the right of a front three, with Rondon and Rodriguez taking it in turns to lead the line.
Expect a tough match full of resilient defending and counter attacking play. If West Brom sit back too much the game could easily fade out into a goalless draw, however with the summer additions coming in and their opponents struggling with injuries, it is hard to look past West Brom for this one.
Glenn Murray and Anthony Knockaert could cause problems for the Baggies defence if passed fit. Keep an eye on new boy Grzegorz Krychowiak in the middle of the park for West Brom and Jay Rodriguez, who has made a bright start to his Hawthorns career, up top.
Predicted Line Ups:
Ryan, Bruno, Dunk, Duffy, Suttner, Knockaert, Stephens, Propper, Solly March, Murray, Hemed
Foster, Dawson, Hegazi, Evans, Brunt, Barry, Phillips, Livermore, Krychowiak, Rodriguez, Rondon
Brighton 0 – 2 West Brom
Written by George Bates.