Brighton & Hove Albion vs West Ham United
K/O: 20:00 hours
Venue: Amex Stadium
TV: Sky Sports Premier League
Referee: Kevin Friend
A resurgent West Ham side, who in recent fixtures have humiliated Manchester United and picked up a draw against Chelsea, will be travelling to the Amex on Friday night to face a floundering Brighton & Hove Albion side who have only won one match in their opening seven Premier League fixtures.
Perhaps surprisingly, West Ham lost to Brighton in both league matchups last season and the Hammers will surely be looking for vengeance come Friday evening. Their form at the start of the season was worrying, and many were beginning to murmur that Pellegrini had lost his touch. However, the Chilean has slowly steadied the ship and his tactics and new signings are beginning to bear fruit.
The early season worries are slowly slipping away and the money invested in the team to bring in players such as Felipe Anderson and Andriy Yarmolenko seems to be paying off. There is still reason to be sceptical about the Hammers and a convincing win at the Amex will do much to strengthen the teams resolve; not to mention, it would also move them closer to their goal of establishing themselves in the top half of the Premier League.
The story for Brighton is quite different though. Although the Seagulls are currently three points above the drop zone, Hughton’s tactics have failed to produce so far this season and the team’s new signings have not had a noticeable impact on the team. The situation has not reached the heights of “dismal” yet, but another loss against West Ham could sink the Seagulls’ morale and complicate their goal of staying in the Premier League.
Although Brighton desperately need the points on Friday night, the signs are highlighting they may just struggle to do this. West Ham have incorporated their new signings; Brighton have not. West Ham have improved on their shortcomings so far this season; Brighton have not. Both teams stand in direct contrast to one another, and the gap in class and adaptability may make the difference on Friday.
The list of injuries for West Ham is considerably long with Javier Hernandez, Andy Carrol, Carlos Sanchez, Manuel Lanzini and Jack Wilshere all set to miss out on Friday’s match. Luckily for West Ham, the list of injuries has not done much to slow them down, yet Pellegrini will certainly be itching to get Wilshere back as soon as possible after his ankle surgery.
Arnautovic, Yarmolenko, and Felipe Anderson will all be players to watch on Friday and it has been some time since West Ham had such an exciting attacking trio. Arnautovic is the key man and the most natural goal scorer of the three, but Anderson and Yarmolenko will be crucial in the breaking down of Brighton’s full-backs. Pellegrini will be happy to see that the lethal trident are performing on the same wavelength, and one can expect them all to be involved in Friday’s goals as their confidence is on the rise.
Dale Stephens and Pascal Groß are the notable injuries in Hughton’s team and it is Groß who especially will be missed on Friday. Brighton have seriously lacked creativity in recent matches and finishing in team has also remained noticeably subpar which will no doubt frustrate Groß watching from the sidelines.
Aside from this, there isn’t much to note about Brighton at the moment. Solly March has done very little to contribute to attack. Knockaert has performed well, but he cannot be the team’s only outlet in attack. Locadia has taken Murray’s spot for the moment and has done nothing. There is a long list of disappointments for the Seagulls right now, and some sort of life has to be injected into the team’s attack because their defence is not offering much either.
Predicted Starting XI’s:
Brighton: 4-5-1: Ryan; Montoya, Dunk, Duffy, Bong; Knockaert, Kayal, Pröpper, Bissouma, March; Murray.
West Ham: 4-3-3: Fabianski; Zabaleta, Balbuena, Diop, Masuaku; Noble, Rice, Obiang; Yarmolenko, Arnautovic, Anderson.
Score Prediction: Brighton 0 West Ham 3
Brighton have offered so little in previous matches and it’s almost as if they are slowly regressing instead of progressing. West Ham are looking to continue their positive streak, and Brighton look very poorly equipped to stop them. The dynamism and confidence in West Ham’s team will be Brighton’s undoing, and I predict West Ham will keep a clean sheet in the process.