Brighton & Hove Albion will be hoping that a New Year will see a change in home fortunes when they welcome Wolverhampton Wanderers to the AMEX Stadium.
The Seagulls won just one home league game in 2020 and will be hoping for an upturn in form after going seven games without a win.
After just one win in six themselves, Wolves will also be hoping that the New Year will see a return to winning ways, having suffered late heartache at Manchester United last time out.
Graham Potter will be hoping Tariq Lamptey will be back in contention for the fixture, having been without him due to a hamstring problem. Adam Lallana missed Tuesday’s loss to Arsenal with a groin issue whilst Danny Welbeck will be assessed ahead of the game. Albion made six changes against the Gunners, and some of those players are expected to come back in to the starting XI.
Nuno, meanwhile, will be hoping that the likes of Willy Boly, Leander Dendoncker, Jonny and Raul Jimenez are back in contention after they missed recent games against Tottenham and Man. United. Nelson Semedo, Daniel Podence and Fabio Silva made the bench for the trip to Old Trafford, and are in contention to start on the south coast.
Brighton: Sanchez; White, Dunk, Webster; Veltman, Bissouma, Propper, March; Trossard, Maupay; Welbeck.
Wolves: Patricio; Saiss, Coady, Kilman; Semedo, Neves, Moutinho, Jonny; Podence; Traore, Neto.
Both sides will be looking for a return to form in the New Year with Albion winless in seven and Wolves having just won once in the last six. Both the Seagulls and Wolves lost 1-0 last time out to Arsenal and Man. Utd respectively.
Ones to watch
Rob Sanchez is in line to make his fifth start in a row in goal for the Seagulls, and with Mat Ryan set to leave this month, the Spaniard is keen to continue his good start as Brighton’s number 1.
“I want to keep going now, I am very proud of what I have achieved but I want to do more,” he said.
“There has been a lot of hard work for me to get to this point. My Premier League debut was a moment I had been working towards for 18 years since I started playing football at the age of four.
“I think we have been quite unlucky with our results because the team we have is so good, but I think we’ll keep improving and the results will get better.”
Wolves skipper Conor Coady was frustrated to come away empty handed from their defeat at Man. Utd on Tuesday after he believed the whole team had put their heart and soul into their performance.
“Coming off the pitch, we felt like we did deserve more,” said the England international. “It’s the one bit of bad luck we’ve had and we’re absolutely gutted. We left everything out on the pitch.
“When you get to that late in the game, you definitely don’t want to lose, you at least want to come away with a point. But with the short period of time between games, for the lads to do what they did was brilliant, but we need to learn form it as quick as possible.
“We created chances and not many teams come here (Old Trafford) and create the chances that we did, but it’s massively disappointing and something we need to look at as we go to the next game.”
Since Wolves’ return to the Premier League in 2018, the Seagulls have proved a bit of a bogey team, with Nuno’s men failing to win any of the four meetings since. Three of those four meetings have been draws however, including last time out at the AMEX Stadium. Back in October 2018, Glenn Murray settled a tight encounter 1-0, before the two sides battled out a goalless draw at Molineux the following Easter.
The best of the four games came at the south coast last December. Diogo Jota started and finished the scoring for Wolves, but with Neal Maupay and Davy Propper scoring in between in a crazy first-half, the points would ultimately be shared. Then came the final game before lockdown back in the spring, when Wolves and Brighton once again couldn’t be separated when the game finished in stalemate.
Graham Potter admits the current period is the toughest of his managerial career, but he does not believe the challenges he faces are a bad thing. And the former Swansea boss admits criticism will come his way as Albion start 2021 in 17th place.
“If you don’t win football matches its harder to convince people that you’re on the right path, I can understand that,” he said.
“We took over a team that finished with 36 points and we got them to 41 in the first season. We changed the playing style and added some younger players. But you want to keep improving and results as it stands have not improved, so you can understand the criticism.
“We have got ambition, we have gone into every game this season believing that we can win, but we haven’t. At the same time if you’re not lucky, you can find yourself in our situation.”
Nuno felt his Wolves side were inflicted a cruel blow having fallen in the final moments of the game against Man. Utd, as they ended 2020 in defeat.
“It hurts a lot, especially when you work so hard, but football is that, it goes both ways,” said the Wolves boss. “It’s what we did in the game which is important. Of course, it’s a tough one to take, but we will take it and go to the next one.
“We have to know it requires focus to the last moment, but we did a good game. We were a threat and it’s disappointing in the end and a tough one to take. But the effort of the boys was amazing and the answer of the team was very good. The players that had only one day to recover did brilliant and showed a lot of character.”
How to watch
The Premier League fixture will be shown live on Sky Sports on Saturday 2 January 2021. Kick off is 17:30 on the Sussex coast.