By 90Min
December 15, 2017

Brighton and Burnley meet for the first in the Premier League on Saturday for an intriguing encounter. Brighton currently on a worrying run of form and Burnley flying high amongst the elite of the division.

After starting the new campaign confidently and adjusting well to the demands of the league, Brighton now find themselves languishing 13th, just three points above the bottom three. It is not just their form that will worry manager Chris Hughton, but the lack of an attacking edge as they have struggled to score over recent weeks.

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Sean Dyche's Burnley have been a revelation this season and have surprised many with their performance and results. He will be eager for his team to maintain their momentum as they head in to the hectic festive period. 

The Clarets have refined their playing style from previous seasons combining the long ball with some neat tidy football and they have got the rewards for their efforts positioned 6th in the league, but level on points with 4th placed Tottenham. 


Classic Encounter - Burnley 1-3 Brighton and Hove Albion (September 2012)


It was a quiet opening to the game with the only moment of drama in the opening 15 minutes was when Kieran Tripper went down with a nasty looking injury.

The England Under-21 international was fine to carry on, though, and he watched his side fall behind as the visitors opened the scoring with the first telling shot on goal in the 18th minute. Gary Dicker delivered a free-kick to Mackail-Smith and the prolific striker struck a fine 20-yard effort for his third goal of the season.

The Clarets though were not to be denied and they levelled on the hour when the visitors could not deal with a vicious Junior Stanislas cross and it skimmed off Greer's head and into the corner. 

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Burnley were now in the middle of a fine spell and Wallace powered in an effort from 35 yards that former Manchester United goalkeeper Tomasz Kuszczak did superbly to divert over the goal. However, Brighton hit back and took the lead with a goal of the highest quality through Mackail-Smith, who had been denied moments earlier by a fine Grant stop.

The Burnley keeper was helpless to the striker's next effort, though, as he found the corner with an outstanding over-head kick in the 77th minute. The points were wrapped up in the 87th minute when Andrea Orlandi's cross was headed home decisively by Greer, who made up for his earlier misdemeanour.


Key Battles


Brighton's midfield can expect a testing afternoon on Saturday. Both Dale Stephens and Davy Propper will need to be top of their games, but remain disciplined against the influential Jack Cork and Steven Defour.

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Burnley have a terrific combination of creative flair and industry in their midfield and when they are playing well they provide the ammunition for their forwards to capitalise.

If Stephens and Propper can manage to match their work rate and stop the supply at the source, Brighton could have a chance of turning a likely draw in to a valuable win.

 

Up front, Chris Wood has made the transition from Championship football with Leeds United to Premier League football with the Clarets look easy. The New Zealand international has shown that he has good hold up play, thrives on the physical battle and knows where the goal is having scored four goals in his thirteen appearances since his move from Elland Road. 

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Shane Duffy and Lewis Dunk will be well aware of Wood having played against him in the Championship before, both will appreciate the strengths of his all round game and the danger that he brings, if on form. 

Nevertheless, the central defensive partnership for Brighton has been highly successful this season and they will both relish the challenge that Wood's game will pose. They will look to dominate him to keep his influence minimal. 


Team News


Hughton likes his teams to be defensively sound and work hard as a collective unit. He admitted against Spurs that he had been rotating his squad to freshen things up and manage his players. Therefore expect a couple of changes to the staring eleven as this game is an opportunity to earn those precious points to climb the table. 

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Club captain Bruno to start at left back in place of Ezequiel Schelotto and Pascal Gross and Glenn Murray to start up front to give Brighton more of a cutting edge in attack which they desperately lacked against Tottenham Hotspur.

For Burnley, the formation will remain the same with their now familiar 4-4-1-1, Sean Dyche is unlikely to change a winning side, although Robbie Brady could come in for Scott Arfield to add that bit of extra quality in his delivery on the left flank. His quality at set pieces could be the difference  between two well matched sides. 


Brighton's potential line up: Ryan, Bruno, Duffy, Dunk, Bong, Knockaert, Stephens, Propper, Kayal, Gross and Murray

Burnley's potential line up: Pope, Bardsley, Tarkowski, Long, Ward, Gudmundsson, Cork, Defour, Brady, Hendrick & Wood


Match Prediction


Although Burnley are superseding all expectations, expect both sides to be vigilant in their approach in a tight contest. The sides are evenly matched regardless of the contrasting league positions and will cancel out each other's threats resulting in a hard fought draw.

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Prediction: Brighton 1-1 Burnley

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