South coast clash could prove pivotal in relegation battle


Premier League football returns after the international break as Southampton travel along the south coast and head to the AMEX to face Brighton.

Both sides are in precarious positions in the league with Southampton sitting just two points above 18th placed Cardiff City, with Brighton having accrued three points more with a total of 33. But neither side can rest easy as the ever changing landscape of the Premier League threatens to drag them into danger.

Chris Hughton’s team went into the international break on the back of a three game winning run, which culiminated in a win over Millwall in the FA Cup quarter finals, after extra time and penalties. That result followed a vital win over close rivals Crystal Palace and a battling victory against bottom side Huddersfield.

Southampton shocked the league as they came back from a goal down to overcome Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 at St Mary’s. James Ward-Prowse continued to show improvements in his game as he scored the winner direct from a free kick after young full back Yan Valery scored twice is as many games to equalise.

Ralph Hassenhuttl hopes to welcome back Danny Ings and Mario Lemina into the first team squad. Ings has suffered with a hamstring injury of late whilst Lemina has been recovering from recent abdominal surgery. Shane Long remains out whilst Micheal Obafemi is set to miss the rest of the season.

Chris Hughton is hoping to have a clean bill of health in time for this fixture. Davy Propper and Beram Kayal are expected to come back from slight knocks. Florin Andone will face late a fitness test after a groin injury, but Brighton fans will be most excited about the prospect of a return for Pascal Gross, who Hughton believes might play a part after a hamstring injury.

Brighton have failed to beat Southampton in a league match since 2012, a 3-0 victory after Saints legend Rickie Lambert saw red early in the second half.  In the reverse fixture though, the Seagulls did pin Saints back to draw 2-2 after a Glenn Murray penalty right at the death.

Murray has five goals in his last eight competitive games for Brighton, and in three of the last four meetings between these sides. Whilst the recent form Ward-Prowse has yielded six goals in nine games, a purple patch for the England midfielder.

Prediction: Brighton 1-1 Southampton


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