Match Review – Brighton 1-1 Everton


The Premier League thought that they were showing Brighton v Everton live in India. What they actually did was completely disregard Albion and Evertonian supporters by moving the game to a Sunday lunch time, only to showcase the Michael Oliver show to the subcontinent.

Oliver was absolutely bloody terrible all afternoon, making so many baffling decisions we don’t know where to start. There were the soft fouls he constantly gave against both teams which were then followed by genuine fouls which he waved play on for. Michael Keane practically caught Lewis Dunk’s shot, no penalty. Pascal Gross pulled back Gylfi Siggurdson as the £40m man was about to shoot and then Gross himself got knocked over by Leighton Baines at the other end. Nothing there said Oliver.

The one decision he typically did get right was awarding Everton the 90th minute penalty from which Wayne Rooney equalised. At the time it seemed like the tip of the iceberg in terms of piss poor officiating and a “I want to be the centre of attention” mentality. However even those with the most blue and white tinted of spectacles who have watched it back will see Bruno clearly elbowing Dominic Calvert-Lewin in the face after looking at where the Everton striker was. Bruno was probably lucky to escape with only a booking.

What the hell he was thinking God only knows. You don’t expect your most experienced player, elder statesman and captain to go and throw an elbow into someone’s face in the box in the last minute when you are 1-0 up. It was a moment of madness that effectively cost us two points.

Actually, it could have cost all three were it not for an unreal double save from Maty Ryan from Kevin Mirallas in the final seconds. Think Michel Kuipers away at Wolves and you are getting somewhere near to how good it was. Ryan also made an excellent stop from Idrissa Gueye in the first half on his way to being the Albion’s man of the match, despite what the sponsors may have thought in giving it to Solly March.

There was nothing Ryan could do about Rooney’s penalty as England’s record goalscorer sent him completely the wrong way. Rooney getting booed throughout was a little pathetic from some sections of the Albion fan base, especially given the fact Steven Gerrard for example got applauded when he played at the Amex for Liverpool. Clearly, there are a larger proportion of Liverpool fans than Manchester United supporters in the 20,000 new regulars we’ve picked up since the Withdean days. And if you are going to excuse it by linking it to Rooney’s recent drink driving ban, then we look forward to booing every other opponent this season that has been in trouble with the law, not to mention our own players like Kazenga LuaLua and Rohan Ince if they ever come back.

Aside from those acion packed final 10 minutes, it was actually a pretty boring game. Every time the Albion went forward in the first half, Glenn Murray seemed to have reverted to Withdean Glenn when he was offside more than Elvis Manu. We’ve already mentioned that save from Ryan and Jordan Pickford made a couple of decent stops. Largely though it was ponderous, slow and sloppy.

That was until Anthony Knockaert belatedly got his season up and running. There has been plenty of criticism this season of Chris Hughton not taking up the initiative and making changes to win the game, but José Izquierdo replacing March was a bold gamble which paid off. It was Izquierdo’s shot that was blocked by Keane with Everton just content to watch the loose ball fall to Pascal Gross who found Knockaert to slam home. Yet another assist for the German playmaker.

The roar that greeted that goal was deafening, almost as if we had won the Champions League final rather than scored in a league game one month into the season against struggling opposition. Ryan’s enthusiasm remains an absolute bloody joy and once again he sprinted the length of the pitch to join in the celebrations in front of the North Stand.

Those celebrations were short lived though, Bruno’s moment of madness coming eight minutes later as the spoils were shared. Throwing the game away so late made it fee almost like a defeat at the end, but when you look at that Everton side on paper this was a good point and another sign of how far we have come. Its a little over nine years ago since we lost 1-0 at home to nine man Walsall. Now we are gutted to have drawn with Everton and their £150m squad. Roll on West Ham.

Match Preview – Brighton v Everton


Everton – the team
Everton have spent more time in English footballs top flight that any other club, a record 114 years (or in Sky Sports money, 25 years). They were one of the best sides of the 1980s, winning two league titles, an FA Cup and a European Cup Winners Cup. Their last trophy was the FA Cup in 1995 but a summer spending spree of over £100m gave hope that Ronald Koeman’s side would be a force to be reckoned with again this season. That hasn’t been the case and Koeman comes to the Amex under pressure after a run of only one win in their last six games. In fairness to Everton, those games have included meetings with Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea and Spurss, which Koeman said made him spit out his Pinot Noir while on holiday when he saw the fixture list. Personally, we’d have been reaching for a crack pipe had the Albion been handed that. But even so, it seems look a good time to be playing a side low on confidence at an Amex Stadium that, although early days in the season, isn’t proving an easy place to visit.

Everton – the place
Everton of course play in Liverpool, or to be more precise, the Walton area of Liverpool. Unfortunately, this does not appear to be named after former Albion goalkeeping great Mark Walton. It was once the home of Walton Hospital where a host of famous Scousers including Paul McCartney (we are unsure if this referes to the current one or the one who died in a car crash) was born.

Everton – the people
Given that we are being forced to play this game as a hugely inconvenient Sunday lunchtime kick off purely so it can be broadcast live in India, we have got to presume that Everton are a huge club on the subcontinent. It’s highly doubfult that the pubs and bars of Calcutta or Mumbai will be overflowing with people wanting to see Shane Duffy or Dale Stephens for example. Everton have a wealth of famous fans aside from everyday Indians, including actress Dame Judi Dench, boxer Tony Bellew, the aforementioned Beatles great Paul McCartney and world hide and seek champion Maddie McCann.

A good memory of Everton at home
You have to go back to 1983 to find the last time we played Everton in any competition, which we believe is in fact the longest run without facing a Football League club that the Albion are currently on. Needless to say, we weren’t born last time we met.

A bad memory of Everton at home
See above. Hopefully we won’t be editing to this read “Wayne Rooney scoring four goals and receiving a standing ovation” come Sunday evening.

Played for both
One of the glory players from Micky Adams II reign of terror was Kevin McLeod, a player who sadly seems to get overshadowed on the list of ‘Shit Players Signed by Adams’, which is kind of understandable given the likes of Colin Hawkins, David Livermore and Jason Jarrett are on there. McLeod started his career at Everton and arrived at Withdean with quite a big reputation. He ended up leaving with an even bigger waste line with his only contribution being an ability to take a half decent corner. Rather brilliantly, Wikipedia lists his last club as being Redbridge in Ryman North where he “loves a beer at the end of a game.”

Gylfi Sigurdsson is one of the most creative players in the Premier League and Everton also have Manchester United and England’s record goalscorer Wayne Rooney in their ranks. Defensive wise, Jordan Pickford was one of the best goalkeepers in the division last season in a shocking Sunderland side and Michael Keane is a defender who has come up from the Championship and forced his way into the England squad – something our very own Lewis Dunk is trying to emulate. On paper, Everton have a bloody good team when you think about it.

The draw looks a decent bet at 23/20 given that the Albion look decent at home and Everton, although packed with quality, will arrive low on confidence. Six our nine games so far this season have been level at the break and you can also back that to be the case again at evens.

For our full OLBG Betting Preview of Brighton v Everton, click here

A 1-1 draw. With Glenn Murray opening his account for the season.

Match Review – Arsenal 2-0 Brighton


Brighton’s first ever visit to the Emirates was more like an afternoon at the theatre than a game of Premier League football.

Lots of people don’t go to the Emirates to support Arsenal, they go to take selfies, be tourists or be entertained as you would at the theatre. And to be fair to Arsenal they did the entertaining part against us with their second goal in particular, a move that went from Petr Cech at one end through about 12 passes and a ridiculous blind back heel from Alex Sanchez to Alexis Iwobi who finished it off.

But as a result of that desire to be entertained, the atmosphere is almost theatre like with its silence. We’ve never been to a game where the support has been so quiet and that was with nearly 60,000 (allegedly) in the stadium, one of, if not the biggest crowd the Albion have ever played a league game in front of. Even Hartlepool away when we had a total of 97 supporters for an FA Cup first round replay in 2008 had a better atmosphere. And Colin Hawkins was playing so everything was right with the world.

It made Withdean under Dean Wilkins in 2006 when the likes of Chesterfield and Blackpool were all leaving the Theatre of Trees with three points seen like a cauldron of noise. The Emirates may be a beautiful stadium to look at but give us trips to Brunton Park or Spotland any day of the week over that library.

The Albion players obviously don’t feel the same way. They are clearly loving the prospect of taking on the best players in the world at the best stadiums in the world. They treated this as if it were an FA Cup third round game against opponents from four division higher, being out on the pitch an hour and a half before kick off to take selfies and photos of the ground and then swapping shirts at the final whistle. If anything, it was giving Arsenal a little too much respect. Every one of the Albion players has earned the right to be there on level terms with Arsenal and the sooner they start believing they belong at that level and will be visiting the Emirates every season rather than treating it as a one off tourists game, the better.

Three players in particular certainly looked liked they belonged yesterday. We seem to say this every week now, but again Lewis Dunk and Shane Duffy were outstanding, blocking and heading everything clear. Both look more than capable of moving on to bigger and better things than the Albion and the fact that Sky Bet are still offering 20/1 on Dunk to make the World Cup squad could be the most enjoyable way to make money in the next year with the possible exception of becoming a sperm donor.

Maty Ryan was the other player who shone, taking full advantage of the fact he had to face a barrage of shots to pull off some excellent saves. The arrival of Tim Krul and some competition for the number one shirt has done wonders for Ryan and, being the slightly twatish website that we are, we’d have loved a window into David Stockdale’s mind when he was sat in the stands watching Birmingham City concede six against Hull at the weekend. Hopefully those extra noughts in his bank account are worth it.

Chris Hughton surprised everyone by making a couple of changes. Markus Suttner and Anthony Knockaert both dropped to the bench with Gaetan Bong and José Izquierdo coming in. Izzy Brown also returned from injury and ploughed a lonely furrow up front on what must have been a frustrating afternoon for the young Chelsea forward.

Brown’s skillset isn’t really suited to playing as a lone striker. He was signed predominantly as a number 10 or wide player and the fact that he was forced into the unfamiliar role highlights that, no matter what the club and players tried to tell us about the transfer window, not signing a forward was a major cock up. That opinion was reinforced when Glenn Murray came on for the final 15 minutes, his bustling physical presence immediately causing Arsenal problems. Had we had an actual striker available for the 90 minutes rather than the square peg in a round hole that was Brown, it may not have been so comfortable for the Gunners.

Nacho Monreal scored the first with a quarter of an hour played, shooting through a crowd of players after we’d made a bit of a hash out of clearing free kick. Solly March clipped a post shortly after and the only other chance of note for the Albion came when Murray headed just off target from a Pascal Gross cross.

There was however one difference between the Emirates and a theatre and that is you never leave the theatre early. The Arsenal exodus before the end was even greater than that which regularly happens at the Amex, which is saying something.

We go back to the Amex in two weeks time for the visit of Everton, a game that looks much more winnable than it did at the start of the season given their recent struggles. Could the Albion pick up three points despite the array of expensive talent Ronald Koeman signed in the summer? Possibly, but one thing is for certain – this won’t be another Sunday lunchtime game in which it is so quiet you can doze off. Thank Christ for that.

Match Preview – Arsenal v Brighton


Arsenal – the team
Arsenal are officially the country’s crisis club. Forget Blackburn, Coventry and Blackpool, it’s at the Emirates where despair and anger know no bounds. It’s easy to understand why some Arsenal supporters are planning a walk out in the 27th minute of our visit; they have after all only won the FA Cup three times in the last four seasons and qualified for the Champions League 19 times out of the last 20. As Brighton supporters, we can all sympathise with Arsenal fans. We of course staged our own walk outs and boycotts not so long ago. These were for the far less serious issues of our owners asset stripping the club, selling the Godstone Ground and pocketing the profits all the while we were marooned at the bottom of the entire football league and, as a result, leaving us without a permanent home for 14 years, playing “home” games at Gillingham for two of those and then another 12 at an athletics stadium with no roof. It must be tough being a Gooner.

Arsenal – the place
Forget McDons, Arsenal were the original franchise club. They started life saaarrrfffffff of the river in Woolwich, moving to Islington in 1913. Highbury is famous for being the home of Wessex Studios, where Queen, The Rolling Stones, The Sex Pistols and The Clash all recorded albums. It is also home to the Finsbury Park Mosque which has had its fair share of headlines over the last 10 years, most recently when a terrorist ran down a load of Muslim’s leaving midnight prayers and before that for being the venue where Abu Hamza preached.

Arsenal – the people
Being one of the countries biggest club, it’s unsurprising that Arsenal have a raft of famous fans. That bloke who lost the General Election but likes to pretend he won it Jeremy Corbyn is a Gooner, as is Professional Twat Piers Morgan. Morgan is of course vehemently anti-Wenger so will no doubt be leading the walk out. Other famous fans include Mo Farah, Nick Hornby and everyone’s favourite windmill dweller, Jonathan Creek.

A good memory of Arsenal away
This is our first visit to Arsenal since 1983 so there isn’t a lot of Albion based stuff to go on. The team have had a couple of corporate tickets for Arsenal though and these are always good fun, not because of the football or anything, but because in the lounges at the Emirates at half time they just load tables up with pints and glasses of wine which are complimentary. Throw two of each of those back and it normally guarantees a great second half. Paul Barber, take note.

A bad memory of Arsenal away
***Leaves blank for reporting about our first visit to the Emirates when we didn’t have a striker and lost 4-0***

Played for both
Former Albion boss and Arsenal legend Liam Brady was hailed as a great link between the two clubs that would mean some fantastic Arsenal loan players coming our way. Steve Sidwell, Paul Dickov and Mark Flatts the way aha aha I like it were excellent additions during their brief spells but it was largely utter shite that made the journey down from Arsenal. We’re thinking Graham Barrett, Joe O’Ceaurill, Gavin Hoyte and of course, Chuba Akpom. Kolo Toure easily would’ve been the best of the lot had we have taken him on loan when the Gunners offered us him in 2002, rather than deciding that Guy Butters was a better option.

Where to start? Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez, Alexandre Laczaette, Olivier Giroud. Arsenal have a scary amount of quality in their front line alone. And we’ll be lining up with Jamie Murphy as a false nine. Christ.

Given the fact we don’t have a striker and we are an extremely defensive team, it seems utterly mad that Arsenal to win to nil is available at 23/20. Another bet that might be worth a look is the draw half time/Arsenal full time. We’ve only gone into the break behind in one game out of six so far this season and you can take that at 19/10.

Here’s our full OLBG betting preview for the game

An exact replica of the Manchester City game – a 2-0 defeat for the Albion.

Tomer Hemed banned for three games


Tomer Hemed has been banned by the Football Association for three games after Brighton and Hove Albion’s appeal against his violent conduct charge was rejected.

With Sam Baldock yet to kick a ball in anger so far this season and Glenn Murray also out for an unknown time frame – which, knowing the Albion, means he will be back just after Brexit happens in 2019 – it means that Chris Hughton will be selecting from a pool of zero strikers for games against Arsenal, Everton and West Ham United.

Hemed was seen to stamp on Newcastle United’s DeAndre Yedlin in the 89th minute of Sunday afternoons game at the Amex, an incident that went unnoticed by referee Andre Mariner. Because Mariner did not see it, the FA were able to refer it retrospectively to a panel of three former officials.

These officials watch the footage independently and for a charge to be bought, they must unanimously agree that it would’ve been a straight red had it have been seen at the time, which they did. Contrary to popular reports, this is not some sort of stitch up against the Albion but a genuine decision based on the evidence.

Taking off the blue and white tinted spectacles for a second, and it his had have been an opposition player stamping on one of our own – say, for example, Joey Barton on Beram Kayal – then Albion supporters would all have been livid and demanding a ban, a prison sentence and the return of capital punishment. Just because the FA got that decision hugely wrong, doesn’t mean they should get this one wrong to make up for it.

But regardless of whether you think it was a deliberate stamp or not, there is no denying that Hemed was extremely stupid to go in like that on a player that he had tangled with minutes before, with Sky Sports cameras in every corner of the ground waiting to show slow motion replays from every angle.

Hughton will now have to decide whether to play Izzy Brown up top, try Jose Izquierdo through the middle of revert to Jamie Murphy as a false nine, something he tried with no great success away at Bournemouth in the Carabao Cup; in fact, one Albion fan was rumoured to have slipped into a coma at the Vitality Stadium through sheer boredom at our lack of attack.

Brighton’s home form must be foundation of survival push

Source: OfficialBHAFC via Twitter

Brighton’s home form was one of the key aspects of the club’s surge to the Premier League last season.
Chris Hughton’s men boasted the best record on home soil in the Championship. The Seagulls claimed 54 of their 93 points at the Amex Stadium, winning 17 of their 23 contests in the process.

The club were handed the toughest of starts to life in the Premier League. Manchester City were the visitors on the opening day of the season at the Amex Stadium.

Although the Seagulls battled well against Pep Guardiola’s men, an own goal from Lewis Dunk and a strike from Sergio Aguero allowed City to claim the win.

Brighton suffered a second defeat on the bounce after losing away to Leicester, but bounced back with a draw against Watford.

Their clash against West Brom was vital and would be a telling factor in whether the club could survive in the Premier League this term. A defeat would have dented the confidence of the Seagulls, but Hughton’s men rose to the challenge to clinch their first win of the campaign.

A brace from Pascal Gross put the home side in control of the contest before Tomer Hemed notched a third.
James Morrison scored a consolation goal, but the impressive performance was a indication that the Seagulls are capable of dominating the teams around them in the table at the Amex Stadium.

Source: Premier League via Twitter

Brighton are still considered one of the leading contenders for the drop, being backed at 1/1 in the latest Premier League betting odds to be relegated from the top flight.

The result over the Baggies should give them belief of making the Amex a fortress. Teams that have been relegated in the past have often struggled for results at home soil.

It’s not a coincidence that two of the sides relegated from the Premier League last season – Middlesbrough and Sunderland – had the two worst records at home in the division.

Middlesbrough won just four of their 19 matches at the Riverside, claiming 18 points at home. Sunderland earned just 14 points, less then a point a game at the Stadium of Light, winning just three games at home all season.
Both of those sides were well off the pace in their battle against the drop, finishing 12 and 16 points away from 17th-place Watford.

Solid home form is no guarantee of avoiding the drop as Hull discovered to their cost. The Tigers were in the middle of the pack by claiming 28 points at KCOM Stadium, winning eight of their home matches.

However, their dire form on the road cost them a place in the Premier League. The club earned just six points in the entire season on their travels, resulting in their relegation from the top flight.

It’s a reminder to Hughton and the Seagulls that home form in the foundation and the majority of your points must be earned at the Amex Stadium. However, it’s not a certainty of avoiding the drop as the Tigers found out last season to their cost.

Match Review – Brighton 1-0 Newcastle United


My God, Newcastle United like a moan don’t they? We’ve heard from their supporters that they should be beating teams like Brighton and that they didn’t deserve to lose on the day. Rafa Benitez found some phantom foul on one of his players in the build up to the goal to claim it should never have stood. And as for Tomer Hemed’s stamp, well fair play on that one.

Hemed’s moment of madness ruined what was one of his best games in an Albion shirt. Regardless of whether there was intent or not, you’d have to be pretty stupid to go in like that on a guy you’ve tangled with minutes beforehand with the full array of Sky cameras offering slow mo replays from every angle and think you are going to get away with it going unseen or unpunished – especially after the flurry caused when a certain Jonjo Shelvey did similar in Newcastle’s opening game of the season.

The result is that Hemed now faces a three match ban. With Sam Baldock and Glenn Murray out for unspecified amounts of time – which, lets face it, means we won’t see them again until Brexit goes through in 2019 – we are looking at games against Arsenal, Everton and West Ham United without one recognised striker. Of course, nobody could have predicted that would happen when we failed to sign one in the transfer window.

But enough of that. Let’s talk about the game and how good the Albion were. With each passing match, the players seem to believe more and more that they belong at this level. This was a classic Chris Hughton side performance – the opposition had more possession, over double the number of shots and over four times as many corners but they couldn’t find a way through. Staying up is clearly going to be built on clean sheets and any fans moaning about defensive solidarity – or indeed, pundits like Jermaine Jenas – should remember it isn’t always about attacking. There is an art to defending too.

And that makes Shane Duffy and Lewis Dunk in particular artists on a par with Monet or Picasso. Once again the two of them were colossus at the heart of the defence. You can still get 20/1 in places for Dunk to make England’s World Cup squad. If he carries on like this then that could be a big price come March time.

Maty Ryan is also starting to look the part in goal, a brilliant one handed save inside the opening five minutes from Mikel Merino being the highlight of his performance. The guy knows how to become a fan favourite as well, wandering to the front of the North Stand afterwards were he spent 10 minutes signing autographs and being in selfies with supporters. You don’t see that from players in League Two, let alone the Premier League. Class.

Other highlights included Davy Propper continuing his trick of getting better with each game played and Solly March being bigged up by Thiery Henry in Sky’s post game analysis. For an Arsenal supporter who thrives on being out on the left, receiving a glowing tribute from Henry is probably as good as it gets for him.

But we must finish by going to back Hemed. He’s been involved in three of our five goals at the Amex this season, which takes his record to a remarkable 20 in his last 23 starts at home (15 goals and five assists). He was everywhere on Sunday, tracking back, harrying defenders and then got his reward when turning home Dale Stephens knock down from another beautiful Pascal Gross set piece.

It’s mad to think that, had we have signed that elusive striker, Hemed would now almost certainly be in the Championship with Cardiff City or Reading. One small positive of not getting somebody in is that we’ve kept a player who is clearly loving his football at the minute, deserves a shot at the Premier League and has a passion for the Albion which is remarkable for somebody who hails from over 3,000 miles away.

There is usually one player in every promoted team who surprises everyone by making the step up to the Premier League with ease when very few people thought he could. Is Hemed ours? Quite possibly. It’s just a shame we’ll have to wait three games to find out more.

Match Review – Bournemouth 1-0 Brighton


So, there will be no trip to Wembley in the Carabao Cup this season as Bournemouth’s stiffs proved to be better than our stiffs. Josh King’s extra time goal inflicted a second defeat at the Vitality Stadium on the Albion in the space of four days, this time in front of an away end in which half the attendees had strangely decided to come dressed as seats.

Yes, in a sold out away end of 1,300 tickets yet there were only 652 away supporters there. That means 648 people spent a tenner buying tickets for the sake of a couple of loyalty points with absolutely no intention of showing up. That has denied genuine Albion fans lower down the points chain who may have wanted to go an opportunity to support their side in an away game. If bed blocking in the NHS is a problem, then seat blocking for games like this is going to be a real problem and it is easy to understand the anger and despair it is generating.

Clearly the club aren’t going to drop loyalty points for home cup games as it guarantees them money through ticket sales, even if people then don’t show up. But away from home something needs to change. This seat blocking means people who may genuinely want to go to a game can’t, the team don’t get the full support from a packed away end they might need, and it distorts the loyalty points system as people with no intention of going to the less glamorous games rack up points to give themselves an advantage when it comes to the likes of Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool away later in the season.

What is the solution? We would sack off offering loyalty points for away cup games entirely. Offer them for home games to keep the money rolling in and away league games but giving them out for away cup games is a system that is open to abuse, as we saw last night by the vast swathes of empty spaces in the away end. Yes, people who go to these gamed won’t then be rewarded for their loyalty but that is surely a small price to pay if it actually allows supporters who want to support the team get to games rather than those who solely want 15 points to improve their chances of going to a big club.

As for the game itself, it was a solid defensive showing for the Albion but there was little in the way of cheer going forward. Four goals in two games since the transfer window shut may have papered over the cracks slightly of the cock up of not bringing in a striker, but the fact Chris Hughton started the game at the Vitality Stadium with three wingers up front, Jamie Murphy as a “false nine” and didn’t use one striker from the bench highlights just what trouble we will be in if Glenn Murray or Tomer Hemed join Sam Baldock in the treatment room.

Again, it was Eddie Howe’s substitutions that turned the game. Marc Pugh set up King’s goal and both of those players arrived from the bench with around 20 minutes of normal time to play. That followed on from Friday night when Jordon Ibe set up both goals after his introduction from the bench. What this season so far has highlighted is just what a reactive manager rather than a proactive one Hughton is. He made four changes once we were 1-0 down last night, adding fuel to the fire that he isn’t bold enough to try and change games for the better. We’ve seen that already this season when he waited until the last 10 minutes against a tiring Watford who had played for an hour with 10 men to unleash the pace of Jose Izquierdo upon them and at home to West Brom when a clearly knackered Hemed was only replaced very late by Murray. Managers decisions win you points in the Premier League and Hughton will need to become more positive in his decision making in trying to win us games at some point.

There were a few positives from the evening even if it was dullness on a par with spending an evening with Vince Cable. Tim Krul made a number of excellent stops in goal and we now have three keepers who could all be pushing for the number one spot, even if Niki Maenpaa seems to remain criminally underrated by the management. It’s hard not to feel sorry for the Finn giving that he ummed and ahhhed over signing a new deal in the summer to simply remain as back up, was eventually persuaded to do so, hasn’t put a foot wrong in his Albion career and has now been demoted to de facto number three.

Ezequiel Schelotto also made his debut and we are not sure that there is a better Jesus Christ look-a-like in the world, let alone professional football. Two young central midfielders in Dessie Hutchinson and Jayson Molumby both had solid games, Jose Izquierdo got a start under his belt and came close to scoring and we trialed a new 3-4-3 formation which, although not giving us much going forward, proved defensively solid against a Bournemouth side who’s talents indicate the sort of strength in depth that we need to aspire towards now as Premier League side.

The biggest positives however remain that we are out of a cup that could’ve proved to be an unwelcome distraction to the main task of staying in the Premier League. We also don’t have to go to bloody Bournemouth to suffer an inevitable defeat again anytime soon. And in terms of cup football, it gives the Albion three months before we enter the FA Cup to come up with an alternative ticketing policy for away games. It simply isn’t fair on supporters who want to go for 648 people not to show up.

Match Preview – Brighton v Newcastle United


Newcastle – the team
You probably don’t need reminding, but Newcastle United were last seasons Championship champions after they managed to overturn a seven point deficit with three games to go to finish above a certain Brighton and Hove Albion. While our ascent to the Premier League was done with fans, players, manager and club all pulling hashtag together, the Toon did it under increasing acrimonious circumstances with Rafa the Gaffer and Mike Ashley getting on worse than Kim Jong-un and the UN Security Council. Remarkably, Rafa has stuck it out despite a frustrating transfer window (they didn’t sign a striker either) and with him at the helm, the Toon are currently sitting pretty in fourth spot. No matter there league position, the general consensus is that he is a top six manager in charge of a bottom eight squad and were he understandably to eventually have enough of the Ashley regime, you would expect Newcastle to be sucked back down towards the bottom. That makes this a pretty important game.

Newcastle – the place
Newcastle is a bloody excellent city, which naturally means after a 5.30pm kick off 345 miles from home up there last season, this time we visit St James’ Park on New Years Eve Eve. Known for its nightlife, it’s girls and it’s sport, it also played host to an incident that shaped the current stringent safety regulations guarding the use of paintball guns after PJ, a local youth from the Byker Grove Youth Club was blinded.

Newcastle – the people
Jimmy Nail hails from Newcastle which makes you wonder what is lurking in the Tyne given he has made a career off of singing about crocodile shoes. Other famous residents include Alan Shearer, Cheryl who-is-no-longer-Cole-but-nobody-can-remember-her-current-surname and Rudolf Abel, a former Soviet spy who is played quite brilliantly by Sir Mark Rylance in the movie Bridge of Spies.

A good memory of Newcastle at home
Does life get any better than Adam El-Abd embracing an 8 foot tall FA Cup that is walking around the pitch, after that smug looking bastard Alan Pardew has just watched his Premier League Newcastle side knocked out by Championship Brighton? No, it doesn’t.

A bad memory of Newcastle at home
Last season was pretty gutting when Newcastle scored twice in the final 10 minutes to win 2-1 at the Amex. Both teams ended up going up so it didn’t matter that much come the end, but had we held on we’d have had some proper silverware in the cabinet. As it was, Rafa’s tactical adjustments and substitutions won the day for the Toon. Why hasn’t he just resigned already?

Played for both
When it transpired a couple of months into the 2011-12 season that Casper Ankergren’s 20 Marlboro a day habit might not be conducive to being a Championship goalkeeper, we signed Steve Harper on loan from Newcastle. He lasted one month, five games and one win before returning to Tyneside. Tim Krul has since followed the same path but we presume that he cannot play against his parent club.

Jonjo Shelvey ran the show last time we met and should he not be busy making horcruxes or trying to kill Harry Potter, he poses a real threat. Matt Ritchie also always seems to play well against the Albion and has set up more than half of the Toon’s goals so far this season.

Pascal Gross went off injured in last weeks defeat at Bournemouth and if he isn’t fit for this one, then the onus will very much be on Anthony Knockaert to become the Albion’s main threat. He has had a quiet season so far but his ridiculously high standards but this could be the game where he finally announces his arrival to the Premier League and you can back him to score anytime at 16/5.

For more betting advice, check out our OLBG betting blog for Brighton v Newcastle United

There is little to no chance that Newcastle will be as poor as West Brom were in our last game at the Amex. We’re going for a 1-1 draw.

Match Preview – Bournemouth v Brighton (AGAIN)


Bournemouth – the team
As if the Carabao Cup wasn’t enough of a pain in the arse as it is, it has thrown up a second trip to Bournemouth in the space of four days. On Friday night we got to discover that when our defence parts like the Red Sea, players the calibre of Jordon Ibe and Jermaine Defoe will take full advantage. This time, we get to see which one of our stiffs are the better side. Given that Ibe was only on the bench for the Cherries four days ago, they’ve had three years of building a squad with enough depth to cope in the Premier League and we’ve got an Under 21 squad that has taken some utter batterings in recent times, never mind hasn’t produced a first team player in God knows how many years, it is fair to say that Bournemouth should be overwhelming favourites for this.

Bournemouth – the place
Doubt it will have changed that much from Tuesday night to be honest. The only positive of the fact this game is about as interesting as creosoting a fence being that at least it won’t take hours to get our of the Vitality Stadium car park after, despite the fact we have “sold out” the away end. That of course has nothing to do with 3,000 people wanting to boost their loyalty points totals.

Bournemouth – the people
We’re still pretty shocked by the revelation from Friday’s match preview that Seth Rogen was a celebrity Bournemouth fan. Among famous people to actually herald from the town, Wendy Richard who gained fame as Pauline Fowler in EastEnders comes from Bournemouth, as does one of our favourite Premier League referees, Keith Stroud.

A good memory of Bournemouth away
Seeing as we’ve only won there once in God knows how many years, 2007 when Bas Savage and Dean Cox netted in a 2-0 win is the only real option, isn’t it.

A bad memory of Bournemouth away
There’s been some pretty shocking experiences down the years, but the stiffs losing four days after the first team did at the Vitality Stadium would take some beating if it comes to fruition.

Played for both
Tommy Elphick, Steve Cook and Wes Fogden were three youth team products who all moved onto Bournemouth once they were deemed surplus to requirements at the Albion. Only Cook remains there and he could face us in this game seeing as he has recently lost his place in the first team.

Ibe might be afforded a chance from the start and therefore another chance to torment us. Bournemouth’s back up goalkeeper this season is Artur Boruc and he is as mad as they come which should lead to some entertainment one way or another.

Presumably, Glenn Murray will be given a start seeing as he has had to settle for a spot on the bench in the last two games. He is a best priced 21/11 to score against his former club. There is also some appeal in Jamie Murphy at 51/10. Prediction
A 2-1 defeat and zero shits given.

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