Verdict: Burnley win
Best Odds: 11/5
Now a side flirting with the top four, on Saturday afternoon, Sean Dyche’s highflying Burnley will look to carry on their recent fine run of form. The Clarets will travel south to the Amex Stadium as they face off against a Brighton side seeking their first win since the start of November.
After embarking on a two-month run that saw the Seagull’s only lose once in seven Premier League appearances, it appears Brighton’s honeymoon period has come to an end. Without a win since the start of November, Chris Hughton’s side have only managed to pick up a single point in their last five top-flight matches. Currently sat 13th in the table, the Premier League debutants are now only three points off the relegation zone.
Entering a busy Christmas period, the Seagull’s will be desperate to get back to winning ways if they want to extend their stay among England’s elite. Coming off the back of consecutive 2-0 defeats away to Tottenham and Huddersfield, Brighton will be looking to pick up their first win at the Amex stadium since September. Despite only conceding 13 goals in their opening 14 games of the season, Hughton’s side have now shipped nine goals in their last three matches. It hasn’t just been defensively where the Seagull’s have recently shown cause for concern. With forward Glenn Murray the clubs top scorer with five goals, Brighton have not only failed to pick up a win in their last five attempts, they have also only managed to find the net once in those five attempts.
Brighton will have an unchanged squad for the visit of Burnley. Boss Chris Hughton has no new injury concerns following the midweek defeat at Tottenham, with midfielder Steve Sidwell (back) still the only absentee.
Pascal Gross and Glenn Murray are set to return to the starting line-up having dropped to the bench against Spurs.
As for Burnley, the Clarets have arguably turned themselves into the Premier League’s surprise package. Their 1-0 home win against Stoke in midweek saw Sean Dyche’s side briefly break into the top four for the first time. Although Burnley may have dropped back down to an incredibly impressive sixth, Dyche’s team are still level on points with both Liverpool and Tottenham and also sit above Arsenal in the table.
Winning six of their previous eight Premier League appearances, the Clarets have already managed to pick up as many victories as they had in their last 26 fixtures. Although last season Burnley were almost dragged into a relegation battle, a key part of Burnley’s dramatic turnaround has been their performances away from Turf Moor. Only managing to pick up a single win on the road last year, the Clarets have already doubled last year’s tally and have only lost twice away from home. This year, Dyche’s revitalized side have already taken points off Chelsea, Liverpool and Tottenham when on the road. For Burnley, they have quickly become the Premier League’s 1-0 specialists, defensively the Clarets have not conceded a single goal in their last two matches. On average Burnley are conceding under a goal per game and currently boast a defensive record that is only bettered by Manchester United and Manchester City.
Burnley will welcome back Matt Lowton and Ben Mee for the trip to Brighton but are still unsure about fellow defender Stephen Ward’s availability.
Full-back Lowton and centre-back Mee (both knee) have missed the previous two Clarets games while Ward will be assessed on Friday having taken a blow to the knee, forcing him off against Stoke in midweek. Charlie Taylor may be handed his first Premier League start if Ward misses out, with Robbie Brady (knee), Tom Heaton (shoulder), Dean Marney and Jonathan Walters (both knee) still missing.
Key Factors to Consider
- This is the first top-flight meeting between the two sides, with all previous 26 meetings taking place in the second and third tiers.
- Chris Hughton’s side have taken just two points from the last six games.
- Brighton are in danger of losing four successive league games for the first time since December 2011.
- Burnley have won six of their last eight league matches, as many as they had won in their previous 26 fixtures.
- Only Manchester United and Manchester City (both 11) have conceded fewer goals than Burnley (12) in the Premier League this season.
Coming off the back of consecutive 1-0 wins against Stoke and Watford, Burnley will be confident about carrying on top four push. With the hosts currently without a win since the start of November, it appears it could be another tough day at the office for Chris Hughton’s side. For Brighton, they have drastically struggled for goals in recent weeks and have only registered a single goal in their last five appearances. With the visitors boasting the third best defensive record in the Premier League, it is hard to see Brighton coming away with anything on Saturday afternoon. Backing Burnley to carry on their impressive run of form away from home seems like the most logical bet here.
Verdict: Burnley win
Best Odds: 11/5
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