Amex Stadium, Saturday November 8th, 3.00pm
Brighton & Hove Albion: DDLDDLW
Blackburn Rovers: LDDWWWD
Last starting XI:
Brighton: Walton; Calderon, Greer, Dunk, J.Bennett; Forster-Caskey, Gardner; E.Bennett, Carlos, LuaLua; Baldock
Blackburn: Steele; Baptiste, Duffy, Hanley, Olsson; Cairney, Tunnicliffe, Evans, Marshall; Gestede, Rhodes
Match odds from William Hill: Brighton 11/10 Draw 11/5 Blackburn Rovers 13/5
The last time Blackburn beat Brighton away was on the 14th March 1992 in the old Divison Two (now called League 1) where Rovers won 3-0. In more recent years Brighton have had the upper hand over Blackburn, with the Seagulls not losing their last four meetings, drawing three and winning once. Brighton will be hoping this form continues when they entertain the Rovers this weekend.
Pressure had been growing on Brighton manager Sami Hyypiä, after a run of eight games without a win in all competitions, but a much needed victory over Wigan Athletic on Tuesday night eased some of the stress on the Finn. After back to back seasons of play-offs, this season has come as a bit of a shock to Brighton fans, who normally see their side pushing the top six, have now for the time being, become entangled in a relegation battle.
What seems to be the problem for Brighton this season, is that they have not been able to replace the goals of Leonardo Ulloa, who scored 14 goals in the league last season. However, goalscoring has been Brighton’s problem for at least the last season and a half now. In the 2013-14 season they managed just 55 goals, with only six teams scoring less. This season has started in similar fashion, with just four sides scoring less than Brighton’s sixteen goals this season. Three strikers were brought in, Chris O’Grady, Adrián Colunga and Sam Baldock, to resolve this problem, but between them they have managed just two goals in the league.
Hyypiä has been quoted in today’s The Argus, saying,
“It’s very important to get the second win in a row. That will be good going into the international break.”
The second win in a row may be hard to come by, considering the run Blackburn have been on recently. But the Championship is a funny old league and as seen so far this season, anyone can beat anyone in this league, and it would not be surprising if Brighton do record back to back home wins for the first time since February.
Gary Bowyer’s side have hit a great run of form since October, remaining unbeaten in six games, winning three and drawing three, and only losing one out of their last nine, a 1-0 defeat to Rotherham. A disappointing draw on Tuesday to ten man Millwall, after leading 2-0 nil with twenty minutes to go, may have got the Rovers faithful down, but looking at the bigger picture, it has been a successful month for Blackburn.
The sudden rise in form for Blackburn has also seen winger Ben Marshall hit an outstanding run of form, scoring twice in his last four appearances, and being just a total menace doing the wing. Against Reading he destroyed the right back Chris Gunter, providing an excellent cross for Gestede’s first goal. The Marshall-Gestede combination has worked well so far this season, with Rudy Gestede outscoring the normally deadly Jordan Rhodes, with Gestede scoring nine goals to Rhodes’ five. Brighton will have to watch out for the aerial threat of Gestede, which is a key weapon for Blackburn when going forward. If Brighton can defend the wing play of Marshall, they will stand a great chance of getting a positive result against Blackburn.
Blackburn captain Grant Hanley has today paid tribute to Rovers solid start to the season by praising manager Gary Bowyer in today’s Lancashire Telegraph. Hanley said,
“Since Gary’s came in he’s worked really hard to get a good group of lads together. And I think we’re just starting to see the rewards of that now.”
It may seem strange, but some praise must go to the owners of Blackburn Rovers, Venky’s. They made some horrendous decisions at the start of their tenure, but since the permanent appointment of Bowyer in May 2013, Venky’s have now become less involved with the day to day runnings of the club, which has been the best thing to happen to Blackburn for a few years now. This has enabled Bowyer to create the squad that he has today, a squad that he hopes can be able to challenge for promotion this year.
Fulham: Lewis Dunk
The 22 year old has been in great form this season, being part of a Brighton defence that has conceded nineteen goals, a good figure compared to their league position. He is also Brighton’s top goalscorer this season with five goals in all competitions, showing a different side to his game, as he had not scored in any competitive game prior to this season. Blackburn will need to watch out for him.
Blackburn: Ben Marshall
Marshall has been in inspired form recently, proving that Bowyer was right to splash the cash on the 23 year old. His performances down the wing led to a deserved player of the month nomination, and his connection with striker Rudy Gestede has seen Blackburn rise up the league. If Marshall can continue this run of form against Brighton, whoever plays right back for the Seagulls this weekend will be in for a torrid afternoon.
If you had asked me what the result would have been before the midweek games I would have said a comfortable win for Blackburn. But an important win for Brighton over Wigan and Blackburn thorwing away a win against Millwall, has lead me to believe that a draw is on the cards going into the international break. It is a game neither team would want to lose, and would put both teams in good stead for the coming games. 1-1.