Match Preview – Brighton v Coventry City

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Coventry City – the team
To say Coventry City have had a pretty rubbish time of it over the course of the 21st century would be somewhat of an understatement. They were relegated from the Premier League in 2001, moved from Highfield Road to the Ricoh Arena in 2005, were 20 minutes away from administration in 2007 when their current hated owners SISU bought the club, relegated to League One in 2012, went into administration in 2013, spent the 2013-14 season groundsharing with Northampton Town after a dispute over the rent at the Ricoh, moved back to the Ricoh in 2014 and were relegated to League Two at the end of last season when they also lifted the Paint Pot or whatever it is called these days by beating Oxford United at Wembley. Oh, and they may yet find themselves homeless again come the end of the campaign as no new tenancy agreement is in place with the Ricoh’s new owners, Wasps.

Coventry – the place
Coventry was a major centre for the British car trade in the 20th century with both Rover and Jaguar making the city their home. It suffered extensive bomb damage at the hands of the Luftwaffe during World War II with fire bombing during the Coventry Blitz resulting in the destruction of three quarters of the cities industrial plants and its medieval cathedral. While German cities that were similarly destroyed by the RAF such as Hamburg and Dresden were rebuilt to their original style and plan, Coventry was turned into a concrete jungle with all the charm of Katie Hopkins.

Coventry – the people
Coventry’s most famous daughter was Lady Godiva who decided a good way to protest about the rate of tax was by getting naked and riding a horse through the city. The people of Coventry were ordered not to look but one cheeky beggar did and he went blind as a result, becoming known as Peeping Tom in the process. Unfortunately, topless woman riding horses though the streets appears to have died off as a form of protest in the 1200’s.

A good WeAreBrighton.com memory of Coventry at home
The Sky Blues last visited the Amex in 2011 which resulted in a rare Brighton win. An own goal and a neat finish gave the Albion a 2-1 victory. Future Albion loanee Gary “I don’t know what a forward pass is” Gardner scored Coventry’s goal that day but far more memorable than the football was the fact we met 90s football legend Steve Orgrizovic afterwards. This offered confirmation that his nose is bigger than Rohan Ince’s python.

A bad WeAreBrighton.com memory of Coventry at home
Our last FA Cup meeting came in the third round in 2006 at Withdean when Coventry triumphed 1-0. It must have been dull as I have absolutely no recollection of it at all. Hopefully this time around will be more memorable.

Played for both
The Micky Adams Rule which stipulates that the two-time Brighton manager can only sign players he has worked with before means there are a shed load of players who have played for both clubs. In no particular order, we have Andrew Whing, Colin Hawkins, Chris Birchall, Adam Virgo and Kevin Thornton who all played for Adams during his spell at the Ricoh and were then signed for his Withdean Reign of Terror in 2008.

Dangermen
Marc McNulty has 16 goals in 34 appearances so far this season and has attracted the interests of higher division clubs while Michael Doyle is the Sky Blues stand out midfielder.

Betting
The Albion’s struggles against teams from a lower division over the last 25 years are pretty well documented, but the one thing that does tend to guarantee is goals. Both teams to score is available at 39/29 and looks a solid bet.

Prediction
Chris Hughton may send out a reserve side, but our current second string squad would have been considered one of the best first choice teams in Albion history even as recently as five years ago. There’ll be £20m worth of strikers up front in Jurgen Locadia and Leonardo Ulloa, a fully fledged Dutch International in goal in Tim Krul and a backline that would be one of the best in the Championship. All that means we should be winning this game so we’re plumping for a 2-1 Albion win in a place in the quarter finals for the first time since 1986.

Match Review – Stoke City 1-1 Brighton

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Given that Brighton and Hove Albion had lost their previous five visits to the Bet365 Stadium managing only one Lee Steele goal along the way, we were long overdue some entertainment from a trip to Stoke City.

And Christ, did we get it. The final two minutes alone made up for every one of those crap dasy out in the freezing wind drinking in a city that Father Time left behind in the 1970s.

Enterting stoppage time at 1-1, it looked like a valuable point was in the bag for the Albion. We’d gone ahead in the first half through an another stunning goal from Jose Izquierdo, the Colombian getting involved in a dazzling passing move with Solly March and Dale Stephens which he finished off with aplomb.

Izquierdo was a real handful all afternoon, forcing Jack Butland into tipping an effort from distance over inside of two minutes while he also forced a fine parry with a powerful right foot effort in the second half. Against one of the Premier League’s lesser goalkeeper than the England international, Izquierdo could have had a hat-trick.

The winger is in excellent form at the minute and has been involved in four of our last seven Premier League goals. The fact we’ve only scored seven goals away from home this season has been a combination of Chris Hughton – great to see his James Bond Vilian Beard back, by the way – pulling up the handbrake on the road and the fact we have hardly created any chances. But when Izquierdo is in this sort of mood, he is always going to make something happen and that will be a real boost in terms of the Albion picking up points away from home between now and the end of the season.

Stoke’s equaliser came with just over 20 minutes left to play and it was no surprise that it was Xherdan Shaqiri who got it. Shaqiri ran the show in our 2-2 draw at the Amex in November and although not quite as influential here, he still showed why it should remain one of lifes great mysteries as to why a player of his quality is playing for Stoke City when he curled past Maty Ryan from the edge of the box. That was the Potters first shot on target.

It wouldn’t be their last, not with that breathless last two minutes to come. Firstly, Dale Stephens was adjudged to have bought down on-loan Paris Saint Germain forward Jesse in the box with referee Robert Madley pointing to the spot.

Jesse wanted to take the spot kick himself but luckily for the Albion, Charlie Adam overruled him and he saw his effort kept out superbly by Ryan. The loose ball fell to Adam but Lewis Dunk somehow cleared it away not by totally legally means.

Actually, Dunk’s whole role in the penalty was pretty much illegal. He began by encroaching in the box which, had it have been spotted would have meant a retake. He then basically wiped Adam – who had the goal at his mercy – out in prodding it out of play for a corner.

Dunk himself was honest enough to say in his post match interview that he couldn’t believe he’d gotten away with that but the drama still wasn’t over and the point still wasn’t in the bag. From the resulting corner, the Albion’s marking was predictably non existent which allowed Kurt Zouma to head goalwards but substitute Anthony Knockaert somehow headed off the line to preserve the draw.

That meant the draw was celebrated more like a win, given the circumstances in which we achieved it. But a point away at Stoke given our awful record there and it remaining one of the toughest places in the Premier League to go is a good one.

We’ve said that seven points from this run of games would be a good return and so far, five are on the board after this draw, the point at Southampton and the win over West Ham. Beat Swansea in a fortnights time and it’s a very good month for the Albion which is just as well given what lies in wait for April.

The anyone-can-beat-anyone nature of the bottom half of the Premier League was in full evidence this weekend with Huddersfield defeating Plucky Little Bournemouth (another reason to hate that smarmy bastard Eddie Howe) and Newcastle United seeing off Manchester United.

That leaves the Albion two points off the drop zone yet only six points off ninth. If 40 points is the safety mark – and it looks like it will be a high one this season – then we need four more wins to reach it. That seems more than achievable, but realistically those points need to be on the board before the middle of April as it is tough to see where they will come from with games against Spurs, Burnley, Manchester United, Liverpool and possibly Manchester City to round off the season.

So strap yourselves in, it is going to be a breathless finish. That last two minutes on Saturday was only the start of it.

Brighton on course for a 15th placed finish

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Brighton find themselves bang in the middle of the most intense relegation battle the Premiership has ever seen and need to muster a spirited effort to survive. Heading into the weekend’s games, just three points separated West Ham in 12th from Huddersfield in 19th, and at least 10 teams are locked in a relegation dogfight. This is unprecedented in the Premiership and slightly unfortunate for the Seagulls, who have performed admirably in their maiden season in the top flight. But relegation is a financial disaster for clubs and they are pulling out all the stops as they bid to survive.

Many have rolled the dice by sacking their managers and bringing in a new boss to galvanise the squad, and it has often worked. Some have loosened the purse strings in an effort to beat the drop, evidenced by Swansea breaking their transfer record to bring Andre Ayew back to the Liberty Stadium. Every time a team looks like escaping the relegation scrap, they are sucked back in as the clubs below them find their form. Swansea, Bournemouth and Southampton, three teams that recently looked in severe danger, have all been magnificent in recent weeks. Crystal Palace and West Ham, who both looked to have climbed to safety, are now nervously looking over their shoulders. Palace’s star player, Wilfried Zaha, is out for a month and that could be devastating to their chances of survival. How Brighton fans would love to stay up at the Eagles’ expense.

It all makes for a thrilling spectacle for neutrals, but a nail-biting affair for fans in the thick of it. In this context, Brighton have gone on a strong run, taking seven points from a possible nine to open up a three-point gap on the drop zone. But that is nothing really, just one win from peril. Even if they win another couple of games, they need to stay extremely focused and keep battling for every single point, as their rivals will not ease up at all.

There is little danger of the team slacking now, under the guidance of Chris Hughton, who has done a magnificent job once again this season. He has operated with limited funds compared to several of the teams around him, but has kept the Seagulls extremely competitive. Defensive organisation and diligence are the hallmarks of this team, and that is half the battle when it comes to Premiership survival. Brighton have conceded the fewest goals in the bottom half of the table, the same number as sixth-placed Arsenal and only four more than third-placed Liverpool. That is heartening.

But the other half of the battle is sticking the ball in the back of the net and this is where Brighton have fallen short this season. Only two teams – Swansea and Huddersfield – have scored fewer times than them all season. Big things are expected of record signing Jurgen Locadia, but he will take a while to acclimatise himself to the rigours of Premiership football. As has often been the case, Brighton will probably find themselves turning to the evergreen Glenn Murray, who has scored 10 times this season, one every 144 minutes. Contrast that with Tomer Hemed’s record of a goal every 848 minutes, and you can see the value Murray brings to the team, even at the ripe old age of 34. It would be risky to replace him with Islam Slimani, who is not exactly a pacey striker anyway, and he Murray may be able to operate in tandem with Locadia.

For now, Brighton are favoured by the bookmakers to claw their way out of danger: sportsbetting.ag offers competitive odds, review them first and you will see that the Seagulls are given a good chance of success in their upcoming fixtures. In the relegation betting, five teams are ahead of them: Huddersfield, West Brom, Swansea, Stoke and Newcastle. Brighton are all the way out at 7/2 to go down, and it goes as forecast the Seagulls will achieve a creditable 15th placed finish. Right now most fans would probably bite your hand off for that.

Match Preview – Stoke City v Brighton

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Stoke City – the club
Stoke have been a Premier League team since finishing second in the Championship in 2008. This is the only season so far of their 10 campaigns in the top flight that they have been embroiled in a relegation battle and the first time since October 2002 that they have changed managers mid campaign, Mark Hughes being replaced by Paul Lambert. Lambert has enjoyed the traditional new manager bounce but really, a side containing the likes of Jack Butland, Ryan Shawcross, Xherdan Shaqiri and Jesé shouldn’t be battling at the bottom of the table anyway. The Bet365 Stadium is one of the most difficult to the country to go to although since filling in the corner between home and away stands, it will hopefully be less windy. That extended capacity means that this game with be the largest attendance for 30 years at the Potters home, since Voldermort tired to murder Harry, Lily and James.

Stoke City – the place
Trying to make Stoke sound anything other than horrible would be beyond even a wordsmith of Shakespeare’s talent. It gave the world a load of pottery and Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor but that is about it, to the point where our pre-match pub plan tomorrow is to go nearby Newcastle-under-Lyme and drink a few of their local Newcastle Brown Ales before getting to Stoke as late as possibly. Those of you braving the city itself will at least be cheered by the fact the average price of a pint is £2.50, the second cheapest place we visit this season after Burnley, providing a great opportunity to get legless in a slightly different manner that at nearby Alton Towers.

Stoke City – the people
Stoke’s most famous son Robbie Williams doesn’t even support Stoke but their city rivals, Port Vale. Dennis Quaid and Morgan Spurlock are listed as famous City fans while the Wedgwood Family of pottery fame hailed from the city.

A good WeAreBrighton.com memory of Stoke City away
Five visits to the Bet365 Stadium, five defeats. Can Brighton and Hove Albion do it on a cold February in Stoke? The answer is a resounding no.

A bad WeAreBrighton.com memory of Stoke City away
The last visit was a particularly bad one. Gus Poyet reckoned his League One leaders would to Stoke and show their Premier League hosts, known for their agricultural style of play under Tony Pulis, a better way to play the game. Needless to say we were absolutely outclassed, losing 3-0 as long throws from Rory Delap and set pieces from the Potters caused absolute chaos. Set pieces? Chaos? Oh shit…

Played for both
It’s not just a recent phenomenom for Albion fans to wet themselves at the prospect of any new signing before ever seeing him play. Perhaps the best example of this was when Diego Arismendi joined from Stoke towards the end of the 2009-10 season and North Stand Chat went into meltdown about this amazing new signing. Turned out he was complete gubbins, with his only contribution in a Brighton shirt being a red card for fighting in the most boring game imaginable, an end of season dead rubber away McDons.

Dangermen
Peter Crouch has been starting more games since Lambert took over a month ago. Just as well we’ve been really good over the fast few months at defending crosses into the box…

Betting
It’s an away game against a relegation rival which probably means that Chris Hughton will be reapplying the handbrake. The draw looks a good bet for that reason, as does under 2/5 goals given that only two of our away games all season have featured more than two.

Prediction
Standard Brighton and Hove Albion away performance and a 1-1 draw.

Glenn Murray a decade on

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It’s mad to think when Brighton and Hove Albion are splashing £14m on a player that as recently as 10 years ago, £300,000 seemed a huge amount to be spending on a striker from Rochdale.

That striker was 24-year-old Glenn Murray, a man who had netted 39 goals in 97 games in what had been a pretty nomadic career across the north of England, taking in Barrow, Carlisle United, Stockport County and Rochdale.

At the time, the fee paid made Murray one of the most expensive players in Albion history. Only in our top flight days of the 1980s had we spent more on the likes of Andy Ritchie, Jimmy Case and Gordon Smith.

It was remarkable given that we seemingly didn’t have a pot to piss in back then. The Albion squad at the time was an assortment of loan signings from Ipswich Town, youth team products, free transfers, Alex Revell and one player who actually cost more than a bag of magic beans, Nicky Forster. Little did we know at the time that there was a bloke behind Dick Knight in the background called Tony Bloom, willing to start funding signings such as Murray.

Murray had been on the Albion’s radar for a while before he arrived at Withdean. On the day he signed, posing with Dick Knight while signing a contract in a ridiculously oversized Albion shirt, Knight said, “We fixed our sights on Glenn a year ago and Barry Lloyd and our scouts have watched him regularly since.”

“Along with Steve Thomson (Steve Thomson!!!!!!!!), Glenn is of the quality we are determined to bring in. We have secured the services of an exciting young player with tremendous potential. This signing underlines the ambition of the Board for the Albion to get back to Championship as soon as possible.” Of course, that ambition saw the board sack Dean Wilkins for finishing seventh at the end of the season and reappoint Micky Adams, who they then had to sack nine months later with the club 20th

At the start of January 2008’s transfer window, Knight had made an extremely rash promise live on air on the BBC Southern Counties Radio Fans Phone In. We’d just lost 2-1 at home to a Mansfield side bottom of the entire Football League in the third round of the FA Cup and two of that seasons best performers had left the club, George O’Callaghan (George O’Callaghan!!!!!!!) not having hisloan not renewed and Bas Savage (Bas Savage!!!!!!!!!) seeing his contract run out.

In a parting shot at the Albion chairman, O’Callaghan was hugely critical of Knight, not only for his departure from the club, but for the fact that captain Dean Hammond’s contract had been allowed to run down to its final six months as well with players not knowing whether they were coming or going. Hammond was sold to Colchester United a few weeks later.

As a result of all this acrimony, after one disgruntled caller had aired his views, Knight guaranteed that he would sign five new players in the transfer window.

That led to some understandable concerns about whether each of these new arrivals were being signed to improve Wilkins’ squad or merely to try and keep Knight’s promise. The five players ended up being Murray, Thomson, Jonny Dixon, Matt Richards for a second loan spell and Shane McFaul. McFaul was signed just as the window shut and was clearly just there to make the numbers up.

Murray was clearly the best of these by not just a country mile, but a thousand country miles. But it would be rewriting history to suggest he was universally popular in his first spell at the club. He was nicknamed “The League One Berbatov” after Manchester United’s mercurial Bulgarian striker, a player supremely talented but who didn’t really put the effort in on the pitch as he felt he didn’t need to.

Elements of the Withdean crowd just never warmed to him as a result. There was the home game with The Leeds United when he was berated for not chasing back Fabian Delph when the midfielder ran from his own box to score one of the great goals seen as the Theatre of Trees, despite the fact Murray was playing through the pain barrier with a hernia at the time. Some fans wanted Capital Punishment reintroduced just for Murray after he had the nerve to not clap the away fans after a game at Brentford the following season.

Niggly little injuries didn’t help his cause either as over the course of the 2008-09 season and the 2009-10 season, he missed over a third of the Albion’s games, managing 65 appearances which bought 26 goals.

At the start of 2010-11, the constant talk was about how Gus Poyet needed to bring in a 30 goal striker if we were to have any chance of getting promoted from League One. Turned out he didn’t as Murray had the best season of his first spell at the club, netting 22 times in 50 games to fire the Albion to the title in one of the most enjoyable seasons we’ve ever had.

That belatedly earned the love of the Withdean crowd but not of Poyet, who decided that Murray wasn’t worth a couple of hundred extra quid a week. Despite the constant rumours that Murray was unhappy living in the south of England, he didn’t want to leave the area and with Brighton deeming him not value for money, that meant signing on a free transfer for, gulp, Crystal Palace.

Poyet’s inability to see how good Murray was is arguably the most costly mistake in Albion history. On the pitch, Murray fired Palace to promotion with 30 goals in his second season at Selhurst Park. Had we have kept him instead of spending the next six years dicking around trying to replace him with the likes of Billy Paynter, Sam Vokes, Leroy Lita, Jonathan Obika, David Rodriguez, Chris O’Grady, Adrian Colunga and Leon Best, we could have made the Premier League much sooner than 2017.

Off the pitch, we paid 10 times as much as Murray cost from Rochdale to initially replace him with Craig Mackail-Smith. It then cost a further 10 times his initial fee to re-sign him from AFC Bournemouth for £3m last January.

When Murray returned on loan from the Cherries in the summer of 2016, there were plenty of doubters still questioning why we were bringing him back, largely because of his spell with Palace. That was despite the fact that we were one goal short of automatic promotion the previous year. Even Stevie Wonder could see Murray would help us score more goals and collect more points to give us a better shot at promotion.

And so it proved as he hit 23 goals in 2016-17. He is on course this season to become Brighton’s highest ever scorer in a single top flight season and is now just 10 goals away from a century for the Albion having recently passed a certain Bobby Zamora in the all time list. Tommy Cook’s record stands at 123 and Murray doesn’t seem the type of player who is going to be too badly inhibited by age. Could he break it? If he hadn’t have spent five years away from the Albion, he surely would have done.

It’s taken a long time, but 10 years after his arrival at the Albion, Murray is finally getting the love and acclaim he deserves and he will rightly go down as one of the greatest goalscorers to pull on a Brighton shirt. For all the talk of new strikers, Murray is the man currently firing the Albion to safety and if he can do that while moving closer to Cook’s record, then he will have every right to be mentioned in the same breath as the best players to play for the club.

If you aren’t already walking in a Murray wonderland, then you bloody well should be.

(If you are like us and enjoy finding out what Albion players who were shit are up to these days, then you’ll probably be wondering what happened to the other members of Dick Knight’s January Five. Thomson left after one year for St Mirren and was last heard of playing for Dover; Richards is still playing but has transformed from a fully haired left back to a shiny bonced midfielder; McFaul went back to Ireland where he played for a further six clubs and Dixon retired from football to become a television and music producer while also dating Holly Valance. Lucky bastard.)

Brighton need four more wins at least to secure survival

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It has been a fantastic season so far for Brighton and the team has performed better than most predicted. At the start of the campaign, they were the third favorites to go down and you could find them priced at 5/4. If you were lucky enough to take advantage of the 888sport free bet offer on the Seagulls staying up, it will be a nervous end to the season.

The only two teams below them were Burnley at 6/5 and Huddersfield at 4/6. The bookies were right to choose Huddersfield as the most likely to face the drop. They are second from bottom currently on 24 points with only West Brom behind them on 20 points. There is only seven points difference separating the bottom eight teams which means it is going to be a thrilling end to the season in the battle for survival. All it takes is for one of the teams to go on a bad run of results and they will find themselves in the relegation zone.

Brighton are only three points above the relegation battle even though they are placed 13th in the EPL table. If Brighton are going to secure survival they will need to win at least four more matches. That will take them to 39 points, one shy of the amount that is normally enough to secure safety. With the battle so close between the clubs this campaign, teams may have to set record points tally to survive.

Brighton’s last four matches in the season do not come much tougher. They face Tottenham Hotspur at home, away to Burnley, then they entertain Manchester United before their final game away at Liverpool. It is going to be extremely hard for them to pick up any points in that run of fixtures which is why they need to get the wins they need beforehand or they could be in trouble. Since the 4-0 thrashing against Chelsea, the seagulls are unbeaten. They have won two and drawn one which is exactly the type of form they need to keep up over the next couple of months.

Up next is Stoke City which could have a huge impact on both teams survival. If Brighton can win that along with their next match against Swansea City, it will greatly increase their chances of survive. Brighton still have to play Huddersfield at home and Crystal Palace away. If they can with those two matches along with the Stoke and Swansea games, that will give them the four wins they need to almost guarantee survival.

If they do not get the wins against these teams it is going to be a very difficult task. They still have five of the top six teams to play so it will mean that they will need to get something from one of these if they do not take care of business against the teams around them.

Match Review – Brighton 3-1 West Ham United

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What a difference three days makes. 72 hours after showing all the attacking intent of a prawn in scraping to a 1-1 draw against Southampton, Chris Hughton released the handbrake for the visit of West Ham United. The result? A 3-1 victory and our best performance since victory against the Hammers at the London Stadium in October.

West Ham and their supporters – why is it obligatory to wear a flat cap and dress like an extra from Peaky Blinders if you support them by the way? – will be glad to see the back of us. In our two games, we’ve scored six times, conceded only once, taken six points and José Izquierdo has scored two goals of the season candidates.

Andy Naylor may have taken great pleasure in berating Albion fans who criticised the team and set up in that draw at St Mary’s, but this highlighted what we can do against sides around us as an attacking force when Hughton releases the shackles rather than sending everyone into a coma in the hope of boring our way to a point.

There was one period of Saturday’s game where we sat back ala the Southampton game and funnily enough, that was also the one period when West Ham got on top. It came after the Hammers goal when Javier Hernandez foxtrotted his way a little too easily around Lewis Dunk and Shane Duffy, but you couldn’t argue with the quality of the finish from the Little Pea, slamming home via the crossbar.

Just as the Saints equaliser led to a desperate retreat to defence, so did the West Ham one. Luckily, we managed to make it through the remaining 15 minutes of the first half. After the interval, we abandoned the negative approach by going back on the attack. West Ham didn’t have another meaningful chance after that and that made for a comfortable afternoon.

Glenn Murray had opened the scoring with a cool one-on-one finish past Adrian with less than 10 minutes played. We have may solved the striker shortage by bringing in two new players in the January transfer window, but at this rate neither Leonardo Ulloa or Jurgen Locadia (when fit) are going to be required to start games given the form Murray is in.

Brighton’s second goal was easily the best we’ve ever seen at the Amex. Hammers boss David Moyes described it as world class and he wasn’t wrong. A typically wasteful Albion corner was sent all the way over to the other side of the pitch where Izquierdo managed to pick up the loose ball. He had time and space out on the left to pick out who we wanted with what everyone in the stadium expected would be a cross, but instead the Colombian sent in a shot with exactly the right amount of pace and bend to completely deceive Adrian, brushing his outstretched fingers and flying into the top right hand corner of the net.

If that was a brilliant individual goal, then the Albion’s third was as a result of an equally brilliant passing move finished off by Pascal Gross. This was a welcome return to form for the German playmaker – he also claimed an assist for Murray’s goal with a perfectly weighted through ball – after a few weeks of under par performances, probably due to tiredness as he experiences not having the luxury of a winter break for the first time in his career.

When Gross is in this mood and you are playing attacking football, he will create plenty of opportunities to win you football games. Nothing summed up the difference in approach to the one we saw at St Mary’s than the outstanding Gaetan Bong, who had more touches in West Ham’s half than he did in our own.

This performance highlighted just how damaging the Albion can be to sides around us in the Premier League table. Hopefully, it will serve as a lesson ahead of next Saturday’s trip to Stoke City, another side struggling below us in the table.

Obviously, you probably don’t want your left back playing more in the opponent’s half away from home but there is a balance to be struck between the positive display we saw on Saturday and the negative one of Wednesday night. If we go one ahead at Stoke early on, why not keep plugging away for a second rather than retreating to man the barricades and attempt to hold on?

With four points on the board out of our target of seven from the Southampton, West Ham, Stoke and Swansea games, we can afford to lose in the Potteries as long as we then beat Swansea the following week. But why settle for that? Why not try and build some real momentum by pushing for three points against Stoke to open up a six point gap between us and them and secure a first ever win at the Bet365 Stadium in the process?

Hughton has shown us what can happen when we release the handbrake, and it was the best performance in three months and a second win in 15 games. Let’s hope we don’t revert back to type and that handbrake doesn’t come all the way back on next week.

Brighton announce rise in season ticket prices for 2018-19

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After Saturday’s 3-1 victory against West Ham United, Brighton and Hove Albion have released details for season ticket renewals for 2018-19.

The club always like to reveal their price increases after a victory to try and take advantage of the good mood. They’ve probably had these plans drawn up since the start of January but seeing as we hadn’t won a game since two days before Christmas, they have been waiting to make them public.

There is a 4-5% rise in the cost of season tickets across the stadium regardless of what division the Albion are playing in next season. That means supporters could be forking out £810 to see the likes of Manchester City and Liverpool or £810 for Burton Albion and Millllllllllllll, although there is the added bonus of four extra games in the Championship.

The full prices are as follows:

West Lower Central
£810 (+4.5%)

West Lower/East Lower Central/East Upper
£730 (+4.3%)

West Upper Central/West Lower Wings
£615 (+4.2%)

East Family
£550 (+3.8%)


North/South West Corner

£515 (+4%)

Supporters can still pay for their season tickets via the direct debit scheme and existing season ticket holders also have the option to move seats so if your current area has become too expensive, head for the North Stand.

Free travel is also included in the cost while anyone wanting to become a season ticket holder has to sign up for the waiting list which now has 8,000 people or just under one Withdean Stadium on it.

The size of the waiting list probably explains why they are hiking the prices as they know that even if 30% of current season ticket holders don’t renew, it doesn’t really matter as there are enough people waiting and willing to take their places.

The full details are on the Seagulls Tickets website here. Funnily enough, the club haven’t mentioned the price increase at all on the article on the main site. We can’t think why…

Match Preview – Brighton v West Ham United

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West Ham United – the club
West Ham are one of only eight teams never to have fallen before the second tier of English football, having spent 59 out of their 91 seasons in the Football League in the top flight. They famously won the World Cup for England in 1966 and are very proud of the “West Ham way”which, as far as we can tell, involves hounding good, effective managers out of the club based on some myth about attacking football and replacing them with clowns. Their current owners are David Sullivan and David Gold who rather hilariously have moved the club to the Olympic Stadium and declared that they should be Champions League contenders while pinching as many pennies as possible. We’ll have some of what they are smoking, please.

West Ham – the place
West Ham is situated in East London. The area underwent rapid growth from 1844 following the Metropolitan Building Act. This basically meant that buildings dealing in dangerous substances and the like couldn’t be built in central areas of London, so they all had to shift to the outskits and places like West Ham. As a result, it became one of Victorian Britain’s major manufacturing centres for pharmaceuticals, chemicals, and processed foods. The slum conditions in these areas led to outbreaks of contagious diseases and severe poverty. Still, can’t have done much harm can it? West Ham won England a World Cup after all.

West Ham – the people
West Ham have a plethora of famous fans including Danny Dyer, Ray Winstone and Russell Brand. It’s actually difficult to find a celebrity Hammers fan that isn’t a bit of a prick, especially when it comes to brand who despite looking homeless and being about as funny as homelessness, managed to marry Katy Perry. Three famous residents of West Ham of course won Engand a World Cup as well.

A good WeAreBrighton.com memory of West Ham at home
Bobby Zamora showed he was a Brighton man at heart when missing an absolute sitter when the two sides drew 2-2 at Withdean in 2005. Mark McGhee’s side desperately needed to avoid defeat in order to avoid relegation to League One and our Bob helped the cause hugely. He would go onto score the winning goal in the play off final for West Ham come the end of the campaign.

A bad WeAreBrighton.com memory of West Ham at home
It’s hard to think of anything worse than going to a football game but not coming home from it. That was the fate afforded to one poor elderly Albion fan when West Ham fans ran riot at the Goldstone in August 1979, breaking out of their pen in the North East corner of the ground and invading home sections with the result being a gentleman losing his life after being crushed on the East Terrace.

Played for both
We’ve already mentioned a certain Mr Zamora but other players to have represented both sides are few and far between. Defender Tony Browne from the Gillingham era began his career at West Ham before signing for the Albion under Brian Horton while an even more forgettable name was midfielder Tony Stokes who managed six appearances on loan under Mark McGhee before the Albion belatedly realised he was terribe (every supporter knew that after 10 minutes) and sent him back to Upton Park.

Dangermen
One of the reasons behind the Hammers upturn in form since replacing Slaven Bilic with David Moyes has been Moyes managing to get the best out of Austrain striker Marko Arnautović. Given the fact that Shane Duffy in particular has looked a little bit ropey over the last month or so, Arnautovic could cause real problems to the Albion.

Betting
Six out of our 12 home games so far this season have ended in draws and with two struggling sides who would rather avoid defeat than actively chase a win, it isn’t hard to find value in the draw at 5/2. Leonardo Ulloa is 15/2 to score last and given he is likely to be used from the bench, that seems like a good bet given his liking for dramatic goals such as that away at Nottingham Forest or on his previous home debut against Arsenal in 2013.

Prediction
Do you even need to ask? 1-1, of course. With Chris Hughton making his first tactical sub on 74 minutes.

Brighton’s defensive efforts could keep them in the Premier League

It has been a rocky ride for Brighton this season, with Chris Hughton’s side finding themselves tasked with the possibility of a relegation battle in the maiden Premier League campaign, unless something drastic changes in the coming weeks and months.

Of course, a relegation battle is where many expected Brighton to be, along with the likes of Huddersfield Town, who were the Championship’s surprise package last season and joined the Seagulls and Newcastle United in promotion to the top flight. However, taking that into consideration, Hughton has had a good go at establishing the Seagulls in the top flight – whatever happens from here.

Brighton’s journey from the depths of the Football League to the Premier League has been nothing short of remarkable, with the squad at the Amex Stadium now containing personnel more than worthy of their shot in the English top-flight. The squad Hughton has assembled includes internationals, and ones that are likely to be featuring at the World Cup later in 2018.

defence01
The Amex Stadium, Brighton” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by J’Roo

The one man who is almost certain to be featuring is Matt Ryan, the Brighton and Hove Albion goalkeeper, who has enjoyed a reasonably successful start to life in the Premier League and English football. The goalkeeper is likely to be named as Australia’s number one for the World Cup, with his country going up against France, Peru and Denmark at the Group Stage.

Despite having a Premier League regular as the last line of defence, Australia are not well fancied to be a success in Russia this summer, with the Kangaroos priced as outsiders of 3/1 to qualify from their group and 14/1 to be surprise winners in bet365’s international football betting markets.

Ryan is likely to be a major part of that assault on qualification in Russia during the summer, but first of all, the goalkeeper is tasked with helping Brighton avoid an expected relegation from the Premier League.

The goalkeeper arrived at the Amex Stadium during the summer, with Hughton swooping to secure a deal with Valencia that saw Ryan move to Brighton for a club-record transfer fee. Hughton’s high-profile summer signing has been one of Brighton’s major success stories of their maiden Premier League campaign, with Brighton looking a more than capable defensive outfit, with their troubles coming at the other end of the field – something that the club will hope the loan capture of Leonardo Ulloa can help to solve.

Defensively the Seagulls are sound, with Ryan organising a consistent back four, they have a real chance of mounting a survival campaign in the coming months and defy what many people thought by surviving their first season back in the top flight since the Premier League’s formation in 1992.

It will be some coup if Brighton can avoid the drop in their first year in the Premier League, and if they are to do so, maintaining their defensive record will be just as important as adding goals at the other end of the field. Ryan will be one key member of that defensive effort, and if the goalkeeper can help the Seagulls avoid the drop, he will head off to the World Cup in Russia on a major high.


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