Saturday’s 4-1 home win over Huddersfield Town had Brighton fans purring. Argentinian forward Leonardo Ulloa scored a hat-trick as the Seagulls stayed on course for the Championship play-offs. And late penalty goal from Spanish star David Lopez gave a distinct Latin feel to the Amex win.
James Vaughan’s 42nd minute strike for the Terriers was no match for Ulluah’s treble, on 20, 76 and 78 minutes, and Lopez’s 81st minute spot kick set the seal on a convincingly-won three points.
But it was somewhat harder to muster much enthusiasm about Albion’s point at Ashton Gate on Tuesday night. With two more away games, against Bolton and Barnsley, to come perhaps we will view the point at Bristol City as two points lost come next Tuesday evening – although the loss of Craig Mackail-Smith with a serious achilles injury for the rest of the season might be an even bigger blow. And with Ashley Barnes also currently on the sidelines, manager Gus Poyet hinted at future action. “We had four strikers – now we are down to two,” he said. “Everyone knows I hate the loan system, but that’s what I’ll have to do.”
Having failed to muster a single shot on target throughout the goalless draw, Poyet conceded: “I suppose I’ve got to be satisfied with a point.”
The boss is sure to be wheeling and dealing for striking cover ahead of the trip to Bolton tomorrow. The Lancashire club is making a late promotion charge and will move within a point of Brighton with three points at the Reebok.
Indeed, Wanderers have won their last four Championship games and are unbeaten in seven and a point on Saturday would suffice with the trip to Oakwell on Tuesday night.
Bolton are 5/4 favourites, with the Seagulls and the draw both priced at 12/5; Brighton are 5/1 at betvictor.com for promotion with Bolton at 12s.
A 0-0 draw is priced at 11/1 and I’m not convinced Gus Poyet wouldn’t take that now; under 2.5 goals at 19/20 is appealing as it looks sure to be a tight game.
Whatever the outcome at the Reebok, the Seagulls return north in midweek to meet FA Cup quarter-finalists Barnsley who meet Manchester City at the Etihad this weekend. Barnsley have improved of late but are 20/1 to cause a shock at City and manager David Flitcroft will be targeting the Brighton game for a win to see them try and get away from the relegation zone. They are currently Evens for the drop.
Spurs (5/6) entertain Inter (15/4) on Thursday in the Europa League before visiting a resurgent Liverpool at Anfield in the Premier League on Sunday; TV executives have decided we can’t watch both United and Chelsea (4.30 KO, ITV) and Liverpool v Spurs (4pm KO, SKY) and the latter is, arguably, the most fascinating game of the weekend as the Reds make a belated challenge for a Champions League berth.
It also sees the two most exciting players in the Premier League go head-to-head, with Luis Suarez and Gareth Bale pitting their wits and formidable talents against each other.
Liverpool are 9/10 to grab all three points with Spurs 16/5 and the draw at 14/5.
It is well documented that Liverpool have not beaten one of the top sides so far this term, but they should have won at both the Emirates and the Etihad in recent weeks and it is about time they changed that stat.
Indeed, save a mad 10 minutes at White Hart Lane, they were far superior in the reverse fixture and Reds’ supporters have spent much of this campaign thinking what might have been.
Next week sees the Cheltenham Festival: the most-eagerly awaited week of the year for all racing lovers – and we have a very special offer on the opening race: place a bet up to £50 on the Supreme Novices’ and if you fail to make a profit we will refund your losses as a free bet.
So, have up to £50 on the favourite My Tent Or Yours, for example, and if it wins, happy days... if it loses you will get your money back.
For all your weekend odds, go online to check out betvictor.com