Premier League 17/18 Week 33: Brighton vs Huddersfield Town – Lineups, Preview and Prediction
Two of the Premier League’s new boys go head-to-head as the race for survival heats up on the edge of the relegation zone
15:00 BST, Saturday 7th April, Falmer Stadium (Brighton, England)
Ahead of the Terriers by three points, a win this weekend would move the Seagulls onto the relative safety of 37 points. Back-to-back defeats have removed all momentum Brighton had built up during an unbeaten run of 5 matches, a streak which returned 11 points and helped take them to within touching distance of their season’s goal. Having already achieved some noteworthy scalps this season, a win against their rivals on Saturday could prove to be a pivotal point in this campaign for Chris Hughton’s side.
Huddersfield, too, have seen a loss of form which has left them nervously looking over their collective shoulder. One win ahead of relegation-threatened Southampton, a team who have played a game less, means the risk of relegation is still real. This is heightened by a lack of goals–the Terriers failing to score in 7 of their last 9 league matches. With only a point from their last 4 matches and having lost 8 of their previous 11, this is very much a must-win game for Huddersfield against a side they’ve already beaten in the return fixture.
Last Time Out
Brighton 0-2 Leicester City (Premier League)
It proved a smash-and-grab affair for Leicester as the Foxes ran off with all three points despite a Brighton controlling most of the match. Lewis Dunk and Shane Duffy were once again solid in the heart of defence but the Seagulls forwards proved wasteful in front of goal, putting only 3 of their collective 15 shots on target.
Jose Izquierdo looked to have weaved some magic into the game when he won a 77th-minute penalty, however, Glenn Murray stepped up and missed the resultant spot-kick. With an opening goal arriving minutes later for Leicester, they then quickly found themselves reduced to 10 when Wilfred Ndidi received a second yellow card in the game. With hope restored, Brighton pushed forward only to be caught on the break and finish with an even greater deficit.
Newcastle United 1-0 Huddersfield Town (Premier League)
The Terriers produced a limp display in the North-East before a late goal sunk their hopes of snatching a point. With Newcastle dictating the game and enjoying the better chances, their lack of a proven striker looked to mean Huddersfield would collect a point by default.
Mathias Jorgensen came closest to scoring for the visitors from a corner, however, like their other 3 shooting chances in this match, it could not find the target. Despite this, Laurent Depoitre can be proud of his display at the tip of Huddersfield’s attack, producing an energetic performance and doing well to hold the ball high up the pitch for the Terriers. Without a wealth of support from midfield, he could not enjoy too many openings and Newcastle’s late goal proved enough for the home team to secure the victory.
Anthony Knockaert is still suspended following his red card against Everton with Izzy Brown (knee) and Steve Sidwell (back) also missing out while Dale Stephens faces a late fitness test. Leonardo Ulloa is available once more after being illegible last week. Hughton may elect to revert to a 4-4-2 formation he used against Manchester United in the FA Cup with Jürgen Locadia alongside Glenn Murray as the Seagulls chase all three points against their relegation rivals.
Huddersfield Town Lineup
David Wagner has the two injuries of Danny Williams (ankle) and Elias Kachunga (ankle) to work around which could see Collin Quaner make another start for Huddersfield although Tom Ince will also be trying to force his way back into the starting eleven.
Key Battle: Pascal Groß (Brighton) vs Aaron Mooy (Huddersfield)
While Groß has largely been deployed as a secondary striker by Hughton this season, the German is an adaptable player who can be used in a variety of positions for his club. With 5 goals and 8 assists already to his name in the Premier League, Groß has been one of the bargain-finds. As the main creative force for the Seagulls this season, he has also recently returned to form following a dip during the busy festive schedule. It’s no surprise that Brighton, too, have seen an uplift in their results and will again look to him for inspiration this weekend.
The equivalent player in Huddersfield’s ranks is an Australian who has been deployed in a deeper role by his manager. Mooy has been used more as the player to set his team’s passing tempo than carve open scoring opportunities which explains his smaller return of 4 goals and 3 assists. He too can produce moments of magic, however, something which the Terriers need as they hover dangerously close to the drop-zone.
Despite a glorious chance to score from the penalty spot last Saturday, Brighton have now gone 334 minutes (just over 5 and a half hours) without scoring a goal across all competitions. This was a problem which they faced earlier this season, however, it’s being exposed by a run of nine games without a clean sheet at the opposite end of the pitch.
What’s worse for Albion fans is their recent history of tailing off in form towards the end of a season. Last season they should have sealed the Championship title only for 2 defeats then a draw to blight their run-in. The season prior saw them sign-off with 2 draws which meant they missed out on automatic promotion after finishing level on points, but below, 2nd-placed Middlesbrough. With their future not yet assured this season, there will be slowly increasing fears that a similar fate could befall them this term.
Huddersfield’s season has been lifted with patches of form which has seen them collect points from small groups of games. A strong opening and a good December are the two main highlights, however, 7 points picked up from 4 games (W2, L1, D1) between February and March was also a welcome injection into their season.
With six games now remaining and their next two matches being the only fixtures against bottom-half opponents, a purple patch is needed sooner rather than later to keep their hopes of survival intact.
Prediction: Brighton 2-0 Huddersfield Town
This match has the makings of a tense relegation dogfight with little separating these sides on paper. It is Brighton who have played the more expansive, confident football of late and with home form one of the bedrocks of their season, they could find themselves another step closer to mid-table by Saturday teatime.