Brighton have made it through the first 4 months of the season unbeaten, but as they reach the 5th and final month of a rollercoaster year, they could taste their first defeat, playing 4 of their promotion rivals out of the 6 December games. The first game of a hectic festive period begins at home to Charlton, a team who have failed to live up to their billing thus far this season, but will be looking to put it right under new manager Karel Fraeye, by inflicting a first defeat for the Seagulls.
The Addicks started the season brightly losing only 1 of their first 6 games, but then lost 8 out of 9 games after that; they also had an 11 game winless streak spanning from the end of August to the start of November. Since Fraeye took over at the end of October they have lost 3 (Middlesboro, MK Dons and Ipswich) of their 5 games, winning the other 2 (Sheff Wednesday and Birmingham). To add insult to injury, Charlton will look set to be without key players with Igor Vetokele (Achilles), Johnnie Jackson (Hamstring) and Cristian Ceballos (Foot) all set to miss the trip to The AMEX. Ricardo Vaz Te will be hoping to add more misery to Albion fans, after he scored a hat-trick the last time he faced them when playing for West Ham back in 2012. Simon Makienok and Johann Gudmundsson (2) are the joint top scorers with Jackson’s (3) absence, and will both be looking to add to their tally.
Brighton found out this week that Liam Rosenior will be out of action for a number of weeks with a knee injury, so Inigo Calderon is set to start at left-back for the Seagulls. Long-term absentees, Gaetan Bong, Sam Baldock and Kazenga LuaLua are all sometime away from regaining fitness. Uwe Hunemeier, who has missed the last 2 games through injury, should be fit enough for this game. James Wilson will be pushing for a start after impressing during his 25 minute stint last week against Birmingham, but will likely have to settle for a place on the bench as Chris Hughton continues to put faith in Tomer Hemed and Bobby Zamora.
They have met 10 times previously and Brighton have won 4 times while Charlton twice; the last of which came back on Boxing Day of 2013. Brighton won the last game between these 2 in Chris Hughton’s first league game in charge back in January (1-0), and haven’t lost in the last 3 meetings. Other than that 1-0 victory, the games between these 2 are generally high-scoring, with scorelines of 2-2, 3-0, 3-2 and 4-0 all appearing, and with Brighton high on confidence and Charlton still adapting to their new manager, Brighton could run riot and send a message to the rest of the league.
Bruno, Greer, Dunk, Calderon;
Murphy, Kayal, Stephens, March;
Brighton 2-0 Charlton