We’ve a Friday night cracker as Brighton take on Derby on the South Coast, with the Seagulls looking to gain ground on high flying Newcastle (KO 19:45).
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With Newcastle seemingly on their way towards automatic promotion, the pressure is now on Chris Hughton’s Brighton to maintain their form and keep their heads as we approach the final few months of the season.
The Seagulls are having a late season defensive injury crisis, something which has seen them drop points in recent matches.
Arguably they were robbed at the Annex against Newcastle, but the following game they went on to be smashed by a relatively weak Nottingham Forest side 3-0.
These defensive woes can be put down to the promotion candidates having Shane Duffy, Gaetan Bong and Sebastian Pocognoli all out – players that Chris Hughton has looked to significantly to sure up the back-line this season.
However, since then they have recovered, most recently defeating Rotherham away from home in a match that they were more than expected to win. But this week, they see a much tougher challenge in a game against Derby County – a side with significant quality that could potentially cause Brighton significant problems, even on their home soil.
Having said this, Derby have a few sidelined players themselves in Jason Shackell and Nick Blackman – two of the rams key players.
However, manager Steve McClaren will be looking to the likes of Chris Martin, Darren Bent and Tom Ince when it comes to goals in the match, as the trio have scored over 30 goals for the side between them this season.
With significant danger all over the pitch, Brighton will do well to keep them quiet, even at the Annex.
Despite this obvious threat, Chris Hughton has expressed that he is confident that his men will do the job and come away with the 3 points in the match, stating that Brighton’s home form is something that has been both important and improved over the past season or so.
“Our home form has always been key to the position we’ve had in this division, particularly over the past couple of seasons in my time here.”
In this sense, Derby will go into the match as underdogs, but they can’t be completely written off in causing an upset, as Brighton have certainly shown they have weaknesses in the past few games but we would expect a straight forward home win here.
Derby have lost their last three away trips by the scoreline of 1-0, and we would expect a similar outcome.
The 1-0 scoreline can be backed at 6/1 while the 2-0 can be backed at 8/1 – both outcomes offer considerable appeal.
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