Two sides looking to build on their Premier League opening day victory last weekend, Brighton play host to Newcastle United at the Amex on Saturday afternoon.

Newcastle United head to the south coast in the best of shape following their dominant 2-0 victory over newly-promoted Nottingham Forest in their Premier League opener, but they face a sterner test against a Brighton & Hove Albion side that arguably dismantled Manchester United at Old Trafford last weekend.

After losing key players in Yves Bissouma, Marc Cucurella and Ben White to the Premier League’s top guns for big money in recent windows, everyone expected Brighton to struggle this season. However, that does not seem to be the case if their comfortable opening day victory over Manchester United is anything to go by.

The Seagulls condemned Erik ten Hag to a losing debut as Manchester United manager with a fully deserved 2-1 win at Old Trafford. In truth, the score-line flattered the Red Devils as it could have been an even heavier triumph for Brighton. Brighton fans are in for another fine season after consistently punching above their weight under Graham Potter in recent times, thanks to his attractive brand of football and canny recruitment.

Newcastle, meanwhile, overcame a less lofty opposition in the form of Forest at St James’ Park but denied the newly promoted outfit a single shot on target. The gulf in class between the Magpies and the Tricky Trees was evident, as goals from Fabian Schar and Callum Wilson ensured that Newcastle continued where they left off last season.

However, they will have to be more clinical in the attacking third if they are serious about making a European charge this season. While trips to the south coast have historically been tough for the Toon, they are currently brimming with confidence, and there is a positive vibe in Eddie Howe’s camp. They will be desperate to lay down another marker here.

Likewise, Howe’s men should be encouraged by their most recent game against the Seagulls in March, when they bettered Potter’s side 2-1 at St James Park. Ahead of the latest encounter between the two sides, The Hard Tackle now takes a closer look at how both teams will line up and what could be the most probable outcome of the clash.

Team News & Tactics

Brighton & Hove Albion

Brighton displayed no signs of missing two of their top-performers from the last campaign, Yves Bissouma and Marc Cucurella, in their historic 2-1 win against Manchester United last Sunday. Graham Potter’s side picked up no additional injuries in their preparations ahead of Newcastle’s visit to Amex Stadium, with only Jakub Moder ruled out for the hosts due to an ACL tear.

The Seagulls will probably make use of the 3-3-3-1 or 3-2-2-2-1 system that caught Man United off guard, and Potter may opt to go with the same starting lineup, featuring Robert Sanchez in goal. Guarding him will be the three-man central defensive unit of Joel Veltman, Lewis Dunk, and Adam Webster, with the latter crucial in distribution and driving with the ball at his feet.

Up ahead in midfield, Alexis MacAllister, who unfortunately scored an own goal last time out, will operate in the deep-lying enforcer position, with Pascal Gross and Moises Caicedo on either side of the Argentine. Gross was the shining star for the Seagulls in the last game thanks to his brace, whereas Caicedo was a midfield powerhouse, helping his defence and assisting his side in possession.

Solly March and Leandro Trossard will hold the responsibility of stretching the opposition defence with their surging forward runs, as well as supporting their midfield counterparts down their respective flanks. Adam Lallana and Danny Welbeck rolled back the years against the Red Devils last time out, and Potter will be hoping for more of the same from his difference-makers.

Probable Lineup (3-3-3-1): Sanchez; Veltman, Dunk, Webster; Gross, Mac Allister, Caicedo; March, Lallana, Trossard; Welbeck

Newcastle United

Similar to his counterpart in the Brighton dugout, Magpies’ boss Eddie Howe has a relatively strong squad to pick his starting XI from. Midfield lynchpin Jonjo Shelvey is set to be sidelined for three months after undergoing surgery on his hamstring earlier this month.

In a more positive update, the trio of Javier Manquillo, Federico Fernandez and Jamal Lewis have resumed light training, while both Emil Krafth and Jamaal Lascelles have returned from respective thigh issues and are back in contention. The Magpies are expected to play the same team that thumped Nottingham Forest with ease last weekend.

There is no need for Howe to change the tried and tested 4-3-3 formation or alter a winning combination. That would mean that high-profile summer signing, Sven Botman, will have to settle for a bench role once more, with Howe staying loyal to the centre-back pairing of Dan Burn and Fabian Schar that has served him greatly since the turn of the year.

New No. 1 Nick Pope had a quiet debut against Forest, although he will likely be a bit busier here. Kieran Trippier and Matt Targett started in the right-back and left-back positions, respectively, against Forest, and are likely to retain their places.

With Shelvey unavailable, Joe Willock should start alongside Joelinton and Bruno Guimaraes in the midfield once again. Guimaraes will be the creative hub for the Toon, whereas the other two will provide energy, drive, and relentless pressing to construct a mid-block.

While Callum Wilson netted his first of the season against Forest, it could have been much more if not for poor decision-making in critical moments from wingers Miguel Almiron and Allan Saint-Maximin.

Keeping criticism aside, both wide-men put in really good performances in the Premier League opener, with Saint-Maximin particularly impressive with his work rate and consistent attacking threat. However, the wing-duo will need to be less profligate in the final third, especially the Paraguayan.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Pope; Trippier, Schar, Burn, Targett; Willock, Guimaraes, Joelinton; Saint-Maximin, Wilson, Almiron

Key Stats

  • Brighton are undefeated in their last five home matches against Newcastle in all competitions (W2, D3).
  • The hosts are actually undefeated in their last nine Premier League games (6W, 3D).
  • Newcastle United will try to extend their Premier League winning streak to four games when they play Brighton.
  • The Seagulls are looking to win three consecutive Premier League games for only the second time, previously doing so in October 2018.
  • Newcastle striker Callum Wilson has scored four times in nine games against Brighton previously.

Player to Watch

Callum Wilson

Embed from Getty Images

While Newcastle are a more pleasing watch under Eddie Howe, it is fair to say that they are still heavily reliant on talismanic striker Callum Wilson as their chief source of goals. The former Bournemouth man has now scored on the opening day for the third season running for Newcastle.

The Toon No. 9 got off the mark with a delicate flick of his right boot against Forest and will be looking for another goal or two here, with the Englishman aiming for a plane ticket to Qatar later this year. If Wilson can stay fit – and that is a big if – he is one of the most productive English strikers in the top flight, and Newcastle’s fortunes this season will be determined by his goal-scoring output and fitness.

Prediction

Brighton & Hove Albion 1-1 Newcastle United

It is a difficult game to predict as both the sides are tactically and technically very sound, attractive to watch, solid defensively, dangerous on transitions, and are capable of dominating each other on the day.

It points towards a tightly contested cat and mouse chase, with both the sides likely to jostle over possession and, while goals might be on the table, they may have to settle for a point and share the spoils at the Amex Stadium on Saturday.

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