West Brom and Brighton meet in the Premier League on Saturday, with both sides hoping to use confidence-boosting FA Cup victories as a springboard for league success.
West Brom avoided a potential banana skin by winning 2-0 at Exeter City, their first victory in any competition since August. Brighton beat rivals Crystal Palace 2-1 at the Amex Stadium on Monday to earn a fourth round trip to Middlesbrough.
Even three points would not be enough to haul the Baggies out of the relegation zone, but these are the sorts of matches that they need to be winning if they are to prolong their eight-year stay in the Premier League. Brighton have enjoyed their debut season in the top flight thus far, and could move into the top half with a win.
Here’s everything you need to know ahead of the clash at the Hawthorns.
Brighton 3-1 West Brom (Premier League, 9 September 2017)
The reverse fixture back in September was the two sides’ first meeting since 1993, and an historic day in Brighton’s history – their first ever win in the Premier League.
The Seagulls dominated the first half and inched ahead on the stroke of half time as Pascal Gross controlled a Solly March cross before finding the corner of the net. The German midfielder then doubled his tally with a low strike past Ben Foster after the interval.
Gross was also involved in Brighton’s third, as Tomer Hemed met his pinpoint cross to head beyond Foster and secure the three points. James Morrison’s consolation could not ruin the Seagulls’ day in the sun, as they showed that they well and truly belonged among the elite.
Pascal Gross vs Jonny Evans
Evans and co will have to keep an eye on Glenn Murray as well of course, but it’s Brighton’s marauding attacking midfielder Gross who poses the greater threat. With four goals and five assists so far this season, Gross has been involved in more goals than any other Brighton player since joining from Ingolstadt in the summer. With Anthony Knockaert struggling to adapt to life in the top-flight, Gross has taken up his mantle with aplomb.
Evans has been earning rave reviews for his performances as part of a West Brom defence which has been by far the most functional part of the side. Despite the Baggies' lowly league position, only one side in the bottom half can boast a better defensive record. Unfortunately for West Brom, that one side is Brighton and Hove Albion. With Evans drawing admiring glances from several top six clubs, he will be out to impress.
Kieran Gibbs was replaced early on against Exeter and it is uncertain whether or not he will be available, although Alan Pardew seemed optimistic immediately after the game. Gareth McAuley may deputise if Gibbs is not passed fit. Matt Phillips is in a similar position, having picked up a hamstring injury in the warm-up before West Brom's last league match, though he is unlikely to start anyway. Pardew is expected to revert to the team that drew 1-1 with Arsenal in the Baggies' last home game, except for Hal Robson-Kanu, who may be replaced by Salomón Rondón.
Brighton made wholesale changes for their FA Cup tie on Monday but should revert to type for this one. That would mean two changes from their last league match, with Bruno and Solly March replacing Ezequiel Schelotto and José Izquierdo. The big question is whether it will be Tomer Hemed or Glenn Murray who leads the line, but Murray is having the much better season so he may get the nod ahead of his Israeli team-mate.
Potential West Brom Starting Lineup: Foster; Gibbs, Evans, Hegazi, Dawson; Brunt, Barry, Livermore; McClean, Rodriguez, Rondón
Potential Brighton Starting Lineup: Ryan; Suttner, Dunk, Duffy, Bruno; March, Pröpper, Stephens, Knockaert; Gross, Murray
Matches involving Brighton and West Brom feature an average of 2 and 2.09 goals per game respectively - only Burnley's fixtures have featured fewer goals (1.72 per game). So don't expect a thriller at the Hawthorns.
Brighton aren't exactly masters of the away day, with only two wins on the road all season, and West Brom have lost only one of their four home games since Alan Pardew was appointed, drawing the other three. Chris Hughton would probably be satisfied to take a point and let Brighton survive on the strength of their home form.
For West Brom, a point would not be satisfactory - they have to start winning their home games sooner rather than later. But with no league wins since August, it's impossible to predict a Baggies win at the moment.
Prediction: West Brom 1-1 Brighton