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This feels like the first huge game of the season. Now, whether Brighton and Newcastle being the crowning fixture of the campaign so far speaks more to the runaway leaders we have in Man City or the lack of an edge the league truly possesses without fans calling every one of their own players s***e is anyone’s guess. But, this is a game you dare not lose.
Brighton are infuriating. They have what I call the ‘Eddie Howe Syndrome’ – a need to be constantly expansive when shutting up shop a few more times this year would have landed them clear of the bottom three by now.
That’s not me citing a need for Steve Bruces and Sam Allardyces – I admire anyone who actively tries to win games of football, but for all the intricate build-up that The Seagulls can manage, they don’t have a goalscorer. This will be the running theme of today.
Newcastle? They’ll draw their way to safety, and they’ll be quite glad to do so. Steve Bruce is currently trapped between two managers who are playing entertaining football and yet you’d still fancy him to trump both, wouldn’t you? Some things will always be predictable, so let’s piece together three best bets for you here.
Saturday 20:00 – Brighton v Newcastle
Sky Sports Main Event / Sky Sports Premier League
It’s just very hard to see why Brighton could all of a sudden come to life when they’ve been lacking a cutting edge now for so long. Yes, that win over Southampton was arguably their biggest result so far this year, but it was also the first time they’ve scored twice since a 3-3 draw with Wolves back on the second day of January.
The Magpies haven’t lost any of their last three and are in full preservation mode now – trying not to lose so they can draw their way to safety in a season where so much more could have been achieved.
This is now a reoccurring theme and Brighton fans themselves will tell you the same. Newcastle don’t play a high line – they invite pressure and try to force the opposition to take aim from awkward angles.
That has long been a Steve Bruce method and unfortunately for the good of football, it’s been more successful than not in recent times – meaning he’ll stick to the approach. Seven does seem like quite a high number, but they managed six against the Saints and now they’re at home against a team who actively want them to shoot.
An absolute classic this will not be. You know how it goes, too. Newcastle rock on knowing they just need to draw the game to creep ever so slightly closer to seeing off Fulham’s challenge. Meanwhile, Brighton, in their naivety, go off on one about shoot from all angles in the hope of beating a team they feel they really should.
What happens? Pure frustration and a victory for the pessimists.
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