How are we all coping?? Now that we have a straight road ahead of us til Easter, it’s time to buckle up and get set for a rollercoaster of a ride. As Brighton enter game 17, they remain unbeaten in the Championship, and have come off the back of breaking a long-standing club record for longest unbeaten league run. But as they enter, what is deemed to be the ‘make or break’ part of their season, it’s now time to put those words into practise, and continue their fine form over the next 7 games and beyond. Those 7 games begin away to Burnley, a side who have been in great form themselves.
Burnley haven’t lost any of their last 7 league games, and have only lost twice this season. On top of that they have only dropped 4 points out of a possible 21 at home drawing against Birmingham, and losing to Reading, both of whom are promotion contenders. But like Brighton they have yet to play some of the ‘big boys’, with Hull, QPR and Middlesbrough all waiting for them after Sunday’s game. But with a striker in such scintillating form in the ranks of Andre Gray, you can expect them to pick up a few points or two in those games. Gray has scored 8 goals so far, and is deemed to be the buy of the season. Michael Keane is the rock solid centre-back that any promotion candidates need, and the fact he is popping up with goals (3) is an added bonus. Keane, along with centre-back partner Michael Duff, have played every minute of Championship football thus far, and can expect to remain in that category on Sunday.
Brighton won last time out at home to MK Dons, after 3 straight draws. However, the win came at a price, after Sam Baldock went off injured and won’t recover in time for the trip to Lancashire. More positive news though, Gordon Greer will travel with the squad, but may have to settle for a spot on the bench. Kazenga LuaLua was back in training this week, but the game on Sunday will come too early for him to make the squad, but he is expected to be fit for the home game against Birmingham next Saturday. Tomer Hemed will be looking to re-kindle his goal scoring form, after shooting blanks in the last 8 games; he has however scored on international duty for Israel.
The head-to-head record between these 2 makes interesting reading; both have won 5 and draw the other 6 of the 16 meeting between the 2 sides. The last game was a 0-0 draw at Turf Moor back in January 2014, but prior to that Brighton had won the previous 3 games including a 3-1 win at Burnley, where a certain Craig Mackail-Smith scored a overhead volley. Based on current form and previous meeting, you don’t need to be a genius to back the draw, but a close game is in store and either team can win, although it will more that likely be by 1 goal.
Bruno, Dunk, Hunemeier, Rosenior;
Crofts, Kayal, Stephens;
Murphy, Hemed, March;
Burnley 0-0 Brighton