Brighton’s Chris Hughton hopes to pour more misery on his former club Newcastle


Hughton & Benitez
Photo: Sky Sports

Brightons Chris Hughton hopes to pour more misery on his former club Newcastle

by Conor Dunford

Rafa Benitez will welcome Brighton to Newcastle this weekend knowing that this is a must-win game for the Toon Army if they want to survive in the Premier League this season.

Two different tales in the league

Eight games have passed, and Newcastle have just two points and sit in 19th in the table. The infamous owner, Mike Ashley, doesn’t want to own the club and has disrespected the fans on several occasions, and you’d be questioning as well if the manager truly wants to be at the club as well. It’s looking bleak for Newcastle fans, but a win against Brighton this weekend could provide a small piece of joy, and hope, for the Toon faithful.

Chris Hughton meanwhile, can be relatively happy with how things have gone so far this season for Brighton. A solid if unspectacular start gives them eight points from as many games. Glenn Murray is still scoring goals despite his age and Pascal Gross and Jose Izquierdo are set to return to the fold after spells out with injury.

This can be seen as an early six-pointer for both sides, with Newcastle holding the fear of being cut adrift in the relegation zone. Brighton know that losing to those expected to be in and around the battle for survival is sure to drag them into that part of the table too.

‘Second season syndrome’ is a curse that many believe in, and it already seems to have caught Huddersfield Town who sit bottom of the table, but the Brighton fans and players alike will be hoping to avoid it and produce another comfortable mid-table finish in the Premier League.

The stats coming in

Newcastle come into this game after a confidence shattering 3-2 loss to Manchester United. Benitez found his side 2-0 up in ten minutes and cruising, they could have gone into the break 4-0 or even 5-0 up. But lack of concentration and the quality of Manchester United shone through as Alexis Sanchez grabbed a winner in injury time to make it 3-2.

Benitez will want his side to take confidence from the first half performance, with new signing Yoshinori Muto getting on the scoresheet, knowing if they perform like that against a lesser side in Brighton the result will be different.

Brightons last foray onto the pitch saw a smash and grab win against a semi-resurgent West Ham United. Despite having less of the game all over the pitch, only 35% of the possession at home, a Murray goal saw them take all three points for their first win in seven Premier League games. Izquierdo made a return off the bench and will be hoping to get a start against Newcastle, his electric pace is a threat to almost any defence in the league and he possesses a keen eye for the spectacular as he proved last season.

History between these two sides is split fairly evenly, but only Newcastle have managed to take all the points away from home since 2012. Only once in this fixture have both teams scored in the same game, which came in that solitary away win for Newcastle, a 1-2 result in 2017.

But Newcastle are struggling more than they have in the previous few season, a lack of goals, a lack of signings and a lack of cohesion has taken its toll on the sleeping giant of a club. Fans are losing their patience with the ownership and despite their best attempts to stop it doing so, this translates onto the pitch and into player performances. Brighton will be hoping they can take advantage of this, using the confidence from that 1-0 win over West Ham before the international break to produce the same result this time around, a win.

Prediction: Newcastle 0-1 Brighton



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