Bournemouth’s Goldsands stadium hosts an all-Southern Coast match-up on Saturday evening as struggling Brighton & Hove Albion visit the high-flying Cherries. Under pressure boss Sami Hyypiä will be hoping his Seagulls can stop a run of 10 league games without a win, whilst contrastingly Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth side will aim to extend their 4 league game winning streak.
Both sides come into the game on the back of midweek Capital One 4th Round ties against Premier League opposition. West Bromwich Albion equalised late on at the formerly known Dean Court, however summer-signing Callum Wilson restored the home sides lead shortly after to give Bournemouth a 2-1 victory. The win means they will appear in the League Cup Quarter-Finals for the first time in their history and a plump tie at home to Liverpool awaits. Brighton traveled to White Hart Lane to take on an inconsistent Tottenham Hotspur side, however despite a spirited display, their cup run was to come to an end due to goals from Erik Lamela and Harry Kane for the home side.
The Cherries’ last league outing was the record-breaking, astonishing 8-0 romp at St Andrews against current strugglers Birmingham City. The result was off the back of three straight league wins and two consecutive clean sheets which has seen the Dorset club rise to fourth in the Championship table. Bournemouth are currently the form team in England’s second tier with five wins from their last six league games and last week’s demolition in the midlands has seen them become the league’s top scorers. In his second-spell as boss Eddie Howe is assembling a squad looking to push on into the promotion mix-up after narrowly missing out on the play offs last season.
Brighton on the other hand had to settle for a 1-1 draw at the Amex Stadium last weekend against newly-promoted Rotherham United, in a game which saw Sami Hyypiä’s side booed off at full-time after a tenth league game without a victory. The Sussex club have been somewhat draw-specialists thus far this term with 7 of their 14 league games ending in stalemates. Their poor run of form sees them disappointingly hovering above the Championship’s relegation zone in 21st spot. After the eye-catching appointment of Sami Hyypiä in the summer, the Seagulls faithful will be hoping the Finn can use his Bundesliga & Champions League experience to haul Brighton back up to the playoff positions, where they have ended in each of the last two seasons.
Eddie Howe made 10 changes to the Bournemouth side that started the midweek Capital One cup tie, with only captain Tommy Elphick starting from the team that crushed Birmingham City. It’s likely Howe will revert back to the players that started the game at St Andrews meaning top league assister Matt Ritchie and top league goalscorer Callum Wilson should return to the starting line-up. After missing the midweek cup tie through suspension ever-presents Steve Cook and Harry Arter could return, whilst summer signing Andrew Surman and 4 league goal Marc Pugh will also be hoping for a recall in the midfield. Ex-Leicester City striker Yann Kermorgant returned from a three-game suspension during the week in the forward line but Brett Pitman will want to keep his place up top after scoring in the Cherries rout last weekend. Southampton loanee ‘Keeper Artur Boruc will likely be back between the sticks in place of Lee Camp.
The headache for Sami Hyypiä will be who to start in the forward line for his Brighton & Hove Albion side, as they have struggled to find the net this campaign and haven’t scored more than one goal in a league game since a 3-2 loss at Brentford on September 13th. Summer signings Sam Baldock, Chris O’Grady and Adrian Corlunga have no league goals this season, with past prolific marksmen Craig Mackail-Smith having only bagged one. Impressing defender Lewis Dunk is the Seagulls top league scorer this season with 4 goals and should be partnered again by ever-league presnt and club captain Gordon Greer in central defence. Kazenga Lua-Lua returned from suspension for the League Cup tie during the week and could be in line for a league return in the forward line, whilst Liverpool loanee Joao Teixeria will also be hoping for a start after 2 league goals thus far. Ex-Fulham 'Keeper David Stockdale sustained a finger injury in training during the week and with reports of a move for Wigan Athletic's Ali Al-Habsi in the media, it could result in youngster Christian Walton keeping his place in goal after an impressive senior debut in the League Cup. Aston Villa loanees Defender Joe Bennett and Midfielder Gary Gardner could also return to the Brighton starting lineup after starting from the bench in the Capital One Cup.
With both managers choosing to use their squads in midweek, both sides could be well rested and take on a familiar look going back into Championship action. The form book would suggest a home win on Saturday evening but both clubs could not be divided last season as they played out 1-1 draws at the Goldsands and Amex stadiums. Sami Hyypiä will be eager for his Brighton & Hove Albion team to start clicking into gear on Saturday evening in the-ever unpredictable Championship division, whilst Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth will want to continue impressing as they look to avoid a cup success hangover.