The first of two Premier League matches this afternoon takes us to the South Coast where we are treated to a local derby at The AMEX as Brighton play host to Southampton. Sussex takes on Hampshire as both sides look to build on victories from last weekend.
For Chris Hughton’s men it was a first away win of the season as they eased to a 3-0 win over West Ham which heaped more pressure on Hammers boss Slaven Bilic. More importantly it put some daylight between the Seagulls and the bottom three.
Going into this game Brighton find themselves 12th in the table knowing that a win would see them in the top half of the table, should that be the case they can then look upwards then opposed to looking over their shoulder at the group of teams in more immediate danger.
It is their home form which has seen them score their bulk of their points, that obviously comes as no great surprise with 7 of the 11 that they already have on the board coming by virtue of positive results at home and they will certainly be looking to add to that tally in a few hours time.
A win would see them leapfrog today’s opponents Southampton who come into this fixture currently sitting 10th in the table. Victory for them would see them move as high as 7th leapfrogging both Burnley and Newcastle who face each other tomorrow.
For the Saints the criticism has been that they are not finding the net with enough regularity and with just eight goals to their name from their first nine matches that is a fair enough criticism but this relative bout of shyness in front of goal has been slightly tempered by the fact that they have only conceded an average of one goal per game at the other end.
If you’re not conceding then one goal will be enough to win and that is exactly what happened last weekend when Sofiane Boufal scored the late winner which gave Mauricio Pellegrino’s men all three points in what in all fairness was a game where there was not all that much to write home about.
In a week where Claude Puel makes his return to the Premier League with Leicester it does highlight whether or not Southampton are actually better off for changing their manager. The same issue of not scoring but not conceding all that much seems to be prevalent at St Mary’s.
You could even argue that in Mauricio Pellegrino they have a manager that is even more defensively minded but when you also take into account that post the EFL Cup Final defeat to Manchester United in February the performances almost dropped off a cliff then a change of tact was almost necessary.
Whether Southampton made the right choice in the long term we will have to wait and see but Pellegrino can do himself no harm by picking up a win later today when his side make the short trip to Brighton, the question is whether or not they are hamstrung by a lack firepower once again.
From a neutrals point of view I would say there is little to split these two teams at the moment as their league table placings would suggest. For that reason I think this one will end up with both teams earning themselves a share of the points and Southampton staying in the top half. A draw for me.
Here is what social media thinks will happen – you can still vote on the outcome
Time for some scientific Premier League polls now
— Dan Tracey (@dantracey1983) October 29, 2017