Brighton & Hove Albion

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Premier League Preview: West Ham vs. Brighton

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  • Brighton has just one point away from home this season
  • Both clubs sit on eight points through eight matches
  • Hernandez, Caroll potentially out for Hammers
  • West Ham has won last three fixtures against Brighton

West Ham United will host Brighton & Hove Albion on Friday from the London Stadium (Watch live on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

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Both the Hammers and the Seagulls sit on eight points through their opening eight Premier League matches, which puts each club just two points above the bottom three. West Ham enters the weekend unbeaten in its last two fixtures, including last week’s 1-1 draw at Burnley.

Slaven Bilic will have some difficult decisions to make for the match as he’ll be without Andy Carroll and Diafra Sakho, while Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez could potentially miss the clash as well with a hamstring issue.

The biggest challenge for newcomers Brighton thus far has been how the club has handled itself away from Amex Stadium. The team’s 0-0 draw against Watford is the only match in which the promoted side has picked up a point this season on the road.

What they’re saying

West Ham boss Bilic said in regards to better performances of late“We have improved results. We have players back from injury and the players who missed a big part of pre-season have their match-fitness. We improved and we are on the right path, so it’s much better.”

Brighton manager Hughton stressed the importance of gaining road results“It’s going to be about away form that’s going to be the most challenging. It’s a game away from home, in a big stadium, against a very talented team.”

Prediction

Brighton has had its fair share of struggles away from home, but West Ham is certainly at a disadvantage with some of its biggest names likely out for Friday’s encounter. The fact that they’re playing on a Friday allows less time for Bilic’s men to get healthy, so it’s easier to lean towards Brighton. They’ll get their first victory on the road this week. 2-1 Brighton.

Bournemouth 2-1 Brighton: Cherries come back for first points

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  • Sonny March put Brighton up after halftime
  • Andrew Surman and Jermain Defoe brought the Cherries back
  • Jordon Ibe produced two assists for Bournemouth

Jermain Defoe had done little through the first 70 minutes, and it seems that’s when he’s most dangerous. The former England international struck with 15 minutes to go, giving the Cherries their first win and first points of the 2017/18 Premier League season.

There was an opening 45 minutes. It was so awful that these two sentences will be all we have to describe it.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ] 

Don’t believe us? Fine, here’s one more sentence: the first half featured one shot on target, one corner, zero serious chances on goal, zero offside calls, seven fouls, and zero Brighton touches in the Bournemouth penalty area.

May we continue?

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

Moving on to the second half, things were just as cagey, but Brighton began to attack with more venom. Shane Duffy had a header cleared off the line 51 minutes in. That would prove prophetic, as the visitors scored minutes later. A wonderful through-ball down the left sprung Pascal Gross, and he delivered a pinpoint cross to the head of Solly March who headed in from point-blank range.

The game opened up ,and Bournemouth responded, leveling things up 10 minutes later. Jordon Ibe produced a wonderful back-heel assist to put Andrew Surman on the ball, and the 31-year-old South African skipped past a defender and delivered the ball into the far corner of the net.

The Cherries nearly got another as Ibe collected a poor Brighton clearance at the top of the box and rifled on net, with the shot destined for the far corner but blocked by a sliding Lewis Dunk. During that chance, Gross was injured under a challenge from Nathan Ake and required a physio visit. That forced him off momentarily, and soon after the restart before Gross could come back on, the Cherries struck with the temporary advantage.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Ibe again played creator as he stayed on the ball under heavy contact, feeding Defoe with an outside-foot pass. The 34-year-old took his chance, burying the shot past Maty Ryan for a 2-1 lead in the 73rd minute. The goal is his first of the season.

That was it the rest of the way, as Brighton had little ability to push the attack to look for a late point.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ] 

The points for Bournemouth were massive, moving them out of 19th and even with Leicester City and West Ham. That leaves Crystal Palace as the only team without a point this season. Brighton remains in 14th with four points.

Brighton & Hove Albion: From the brink to the big time

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20 years ago Brighton & Hove Albion were battling for their lives at the foot of English soccer’s fourth division.

The Seagulls survived and now they’re soaring.

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On Monday Chris Hughton’s squad sealed promotion to the Premier League for the first-time in history as Brighton are back in the top-flight once again after exiting in 1983.

There will be plenty of fun next season in the English seaside resort as “Sussex by the Sea” will be belted out by Brighton fans across the Premier League.

It’s been a long, hard, and often dark road back to the top but Brighton are the latest example of a club being rewarded for coming back from the brink, rebuilding sensibly and eventually being back by wealthy owners, such as Hull City, Swansea City and Stoke City. 

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Their South Coast rivals Southampton and Bournemouth, who were both in administration and at the bottom of the third and fourth tiers respectively less than a decade ago, are perfect examples for Brighton to follow. Next season there will be three South Coast clubs in the Premier League (barring an almighty collapse from Bournemouth in the final weeks of the season) and with Plymouth and Portsmouth both securing promotion to the third-tier this weekend after similar tales of administration and woe, we’re in the midst of the English Channel’s soccer heyday.

Back to Brighton, though, and their suffering was particularly brutal both two decades ago and also in recent seasons.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings

After securing a 1-1 draw on the final day of the 1996-97 fourth division season against Hereford United (Robbie Reinelt scored a late equalizer to keep them in the Football League at Hereford’s expense as the Seagulls needed a win or a draw) they then controversially moved from their Goldstone Ground home and had to play at Gillingham for two years, a town over 70 miles from Brighton.

Eventually they secured a lease to play at the Withdean Stadium, a council-owned athletics track which was converted into a stadium by temporary bleachers and had a capacity of under 9,000. Anyone who has had the pleasure of visiting the Withdean will tell you of its bizarre quirks and the fact that some fans were sat some 50 yards behind the pitch, behind a long-jump pit and running track, made it an uncomfortable setting. Brighton’s kit sponsor back then was “Skint”, the record label of local DJ Norman Cook (AKA the world renowned Fatboy Slim).

In England, being ‘skint’ is a colloquial term for having no money. That was exactly the case for Brighton as fans were just happy to have a club and that was about it as long-time chairman Dick Knight tried desperately to bring in funds.

Hamstrung by their temporary home, Brighton nonetheless rose up through the leagues to the second-tier on two occasions and they eventually financed their stunning 30,000 capacity AmEx Stadium through current chairman Tony Bloom who took over from Knight, the man who saved them from extinction. However, the stadium move was delayed by over five years as planning permissions were turned down and court battles took place.

Brighton’s fans are used to being patient and seeing the future of their club hanging in the balance. Gaining promotion to the Premier League will now secure their future for generations to come.

Before this season the Seagulls came close to promotion to the Premier League in 2012-13 and 2013-14 but lost in the play-off semifinals on both occasions, leaving supporters frustrated and the owners going back to square one to try and rebuild the playing squad with their dream of reaching the top-flight so close, but yet so far.

Over the past two season Hughton has delivered a solid, dependable side and Brighton agonizingly lost out on automatic promotion to the PL on the final day of last season with a draw at Middlesbrough who were instead promoted automatically ahead of Brighton on goal difference. Brighton then once again lost in the playoff semifinals (the third time in four seasons) but this season they’ve been pretty much ever-present in the top two and they’ll seal the Championship title with a win at Norwich City on Friday.

Brighton have been knocking on the door to the Premier League for much of the past four years and now it has finally opened you can expect them to hand Hughton plenty of funds to help them become an established PL outfit as they look to take on bitter rivals Crystal Palace.

They’ve been to the brink and back and like we’ve seen with plenty of others PL teams promoted in the past few years, that’s usually a recipe not only for success but also perspective as they plan ahead for the next challenge.

When you’ve come from the depths of the fourth division, had no stadium and seen the abyss of non-league starring at you in the face, battling against relegation in the Premier League (which will almost certainly be Brighton’s task next season) suddenly doesn’t seem that scary.

Championship Focus: Newcastle’s lead grows to 5 points

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With promotion-chasing Championship sides down to 11 (0r 12) games remaining during the league season, one side is nearly (back) up, while their closest competition for the title falters badly.

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Huddersfield Town 1-3 Newcastle United

After overthrowing then-leaders Brighton & Hove Albion on Tuesday, Newcastle’s focus shifted to opening up an 11-point lead on third-place Huddersfield — a margin leaving them miles clear in one of two automatic promotion places — and they did just that, thanks to Matt Ritchie (9th league goal of the season), Daryl Murphy and Dwight Gayle (21st of the season — second-most in the Championship). Huddersfield, meanwhile, sit just two point clear of slipping all the way to fifth, though they do so with a game in hand.

[ MORE: Saturday’s PL roundup | Sunday preview ]

Nottingham Forest 3-0 Brighton

For nearly 60 minutes, Brighton were arguably the better side away to Forest. The home side hadn’t even registered a shot on target until Zach Clough broke the deadlock on the hour mark. In fact, they would register just three shots on target over the course of 90 minutes, ruthlessly punishing Brighton for three goals in the process. Ben Osborn made it 2-0 in the 89th minute, and Clough completed the rout seven minutes into stoppage time. Despite the heavy defeat, Brighton still sit six points clear of Huddersfield in the race for the second and final automatic promotion spot.

[ MORE: Three things — Liverpool’s victory over Arsenal ]

Birmingham City 1-3 Leeds United

Coming on strong, at just the right time, are Leeds United. Friday’s triumph away to Birmingham pushes Garry Monk‘s side to within a point of Huddersfield for third, now and points clear of Fulham in the race for a top-six (playoff) place. Chris Wood thwarted Gayle’s bid to overtake him atop the goalscoring charts with a brace, in the 14th and 67th minutes, before Alfonso completed the scoring. That’s three wins in four league games for Leeds, who would all but clinch a playoff place for themselves with a victory over Fulham on Tuesday.

Elsewhere in the Championship

(5th) Reading 2-1 (21st) Wolverhampton Wanderers
(6th) Sheffield Wednesday 5-1 (8th) Norwich City
(7th) Fulham 3-1 (9th) Preston North End
(10th) Derby Count 2-1 (11th) Barnsley

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Championship Focus: Brighton continues to roll, Newcastle tripped up

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With most clubs having just 10 matches remaining before the promotion playoffs, both ends of the Championship table boast plenty of storylines.

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Brighton & Hove Albion 3-0 Reading

Brighton is on a warpath towards promotion and it looks like the club won’t be stopped in its attempts to reach the Premier League next season. With just four blemishes on its record this season, the Championship leaders picked up another convincing win on Saturday against fifth place Reading. Sam Baldock continued his brilliant scoring streak this season in the first half, before Jamie Murphy and Anthony Knockaert each found the back of the net on the other side of the break.

Newcastle 2-2 Bristol City

Bristol won’t be winning a title this season but the club did manage a vital point against one of the Championship’s top sides on Saturday to keep its hopes of avoiding relegation alive. The visitors got off to a stunning start against the Magpies with a pair of first-half finishes giving Bristol a halftime lead of 2-0. Then, Newcastle picked up their pressure and pulled one back after a Korey Smith own goal before Ciaran Clark leveled the match with under 10 minutes to play for the second-place team.

Leeds United 1-0 Sheffield Wednesday

Chris Wood helped move his side up to fourth in England’s second flight, however, Leeds still remains nine points out of second position. Meanwhile, keeper Robert Green was forced into a brilliant save from the penalty spot to deny Wednesday a share of the points. Wednesday are currently sixth in the table and hold the final promotion playoff position.

Elsewhere in the Championship

Aston Villa 1-0 Derby County
Barnsley 1-1 Huddersfield
Brentford 4-2 Rotherham
Cardiff 2-2 Fulham
Preston North End 2-1 QPR
Wigan 0-0 Nottingham Forest