The final game in the first-half of a tremendous season reaches us, and although Albion tasted defeat for the first time in the league last weekend, there is plenty of positives to take away, not just from the game, but from the season as a whole. They will be looking to restart their unbeaten run again when they take a trip to West London to face Brentford.
Brentford had a tough start to the season, after their superb first season in the Championship last season, where they made the play-offs. They had only won 2 out of their first 10 games, losing 6; but they have only lost twice in their last 12 games, winning 7. Alan Judge has been their star man again this season, and will be at the centre of attention again, as he looks to add to his 10 goals already. Lasse Vibe has scored 7 as well up top and looks even more dangerous under new manager Dean Smith, who has already coached a team to beat the Albion this season (Walsall in the Capital One Cup). Last season’s form man Jota (ankle) and Josh McEachran (foot) are both on their way back from injuries, but should be included in the matchday 18.Jake Bidwell and David Button have started and finished all 22 games so far.
Uwe Hunemeier picked up a groin injury in the defeat against Boro last week so Lewis Dunk, fresh from suspension, looks set to partner Gordon Greer again. Sam Baldock and Kazenga LuaLua are both in training, but this game and the game next Tuesday at home to Ipswich are too early for their return; the home game against Wolves next Friday has been ear-marked for their return. Other than the other obvious injuries (Bong, Rosenior and March), Chris Hughton has a full squad at his disposal. Strikers Tomer Hemed, James Wilson and Bobby Zamora will be looking to get back on the score sheet after not scoring for 3,2 and 3 games respectively.
Brighton’s record against the Bees is split 50/50; played 21 with both teams winning 8 and drawing the other 5. However, Griffin Park hasn’t been the best of places for Brighton; they have only one once there in the league, with that game being in the title winning season of 2011. They have lost 6 times and drawn once in the 8 meetings at Griffin Park, with some of the losing scorelines being 4-0 (twice), 2-0 and the most recent 3-2 last September. The last visit to Griffin Park resulted in a win (2-0); the F.A Cup 3rd Round match back in January, which was Hughton’s first game in charge of the Albion. Based on statistics, it looks like it’s going to be tight and nervy, with both teams needing the 3 points, but it looks as if the points might be shared, although there have been a few goals scored in the games between the 2 sides; 47 goals in the 21 games played.
Bruno, Greer, Dunk, Calderon;
La Parra, Kayal, Stephens, Murphy;
Brentford 2-2 Brighton