Brighton begin a hectic festive period of Premier League games with a trip down the South Coast to Bournemouth, writes Bradley Stratton.
The Seagulls head to Dorset on the back of a 2-1 defeat to Chelsea at the Amex last Sunday.
It was a frustrating game for most Albion fans, who saw their side sit back in the first half against a Blues outfit powered by the talismanic Eden Hazard. The Belgian provided Pedro with their first, before being put through on goal after a mistake from Leon Balogun to score himself.
Chris Hughton’s players responded in the second half with a much better performance and a goal from Solly March, however pressure late on in the game failed to produce an equaliser.
Albion now head into a 12-day period filled with four games, beginning with their visit to the Vitality Stadium to take on a struggling Bournemouth.
After a strong start to the 2018/19 campaign, Eddie Howe’s side now sit only two points above the Seagulls in the table having lost six of their last seven top flight games. They also go into tomorrow’s clash having had less time to recover, after being knocked out of the League Cup by Chelsea in midweek.
Whilst both of those facts will give Brighton fans optimism going into the clash, the attacking prowess of the home side can’t be underestimated. Callum Wilson is tied with Glenn Murray as the second highest scoring English goalscorer in the Premier League with eight goals, with Ryan Fraser having also scored five in all competitions and provided eight assists.
This weekend’s clash comes two weeks before the sides meet in Dorset again in the FA Cup third round, making this the second season in a row that they will have faced each other three times. The Cherries won both the Premier League fixture and a League Cup tie between the sides at the Vitality Stadium in September last year, with the reverse league game at the Amex ending in a 2-2 draw.
A win for the Seagulls on the road against Bournemouth would be their first in more than a decade, with their last away victory against tomorrow’s opponents coming back in October 2007 thanks to goals from Dean Cox and Bas Savage.
Bournemouth made six changes from their 2-0 Premier League defeat to Wolves at the weekend for their League Cup quarter-final loss at Chelsea on Wednesday.
The Cherries starting line-up is likely to be more similar to the side that played at Wolves. Winger David Brooks could return to the starting 11, after being an unused substitute at Molineaux.
Top-scorer Callum Wilson will likely lead the line with Josh King.
Bournemouth midfielder Lewis Cook is a long-term absentee after suffering a ACL knee injury earlier this month and defender Adam Smith is out with the knee injury he sustained at the beginning of November.
Tyrone Mings (back) is a doubt and Simon Francis (groin) is set to miss out.
Likely line-up: Begovic; S.Cook, Ake, Daniels; Fraser, Lerma, Surman, Rico; Brooks; King, Wilson. Subs (from): Boruc, Mousset, Stanislas, Pugh, Defoe, Simpson, Mings, Francis.
BRIGHTON & HOVE ALBION
Florin Andone and Yves Bissouma will be pushing for places in the starting line-up after impressing off the bench in the Seagulls' 2-1 defeat to Chelsea on Sunday.
Brighton defender Shane Duffy serves the final game of his three-match ban following his red card against Crystal Palace earlier this month.
Albion will hope wingers Alireza Jahanbakhsh and Jose Izquierdo have again been ruled out. They have missed the last six and two matches respectively.
Likely line-up: Ryan; Montoya, Balogun, Dunk, Bernardo; Knockaert, Stephens, Propper, March; Gross; Andone. Subs (from): Steele, Button, Bruno, Bong, White, Kayal, Bissouma, Murray, Locadia, Suttner.
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