Bournemouth v Brighton
Tuesday 21 January, 19:30
How long does Howe have?
They say all good things must come to an end, and one wonders how close Eddie Howe is to the conclusion of his spell as Bournemouth boss. If anyone deserves time to put things right, it is the former Cherries defender, but the credit he has in the Bank of Goodwill is running dangerously low. Bournemouth's 1-0 defeat at rock-bottom Norwich City on Saturday was their tenth in 12 league games, and yet they are just three points adrift of safety.
Confusingly, the two occasions on which they have avoided defeat in that 12-game sequence were against strong opposition. They won 1-0 at Stamford Bridge against Chelsea, and drew 1-1 with Arsenal. They have also beaten Manchester United this term, although that's not quite the scalp it used to be.
A catastrophic set of injuries has derailed the club's season, and there are problems at both ends of the pitch. Bournemouth haven't scored in any of their last four PL matches, and they have only found the net twice in their last nine outings. England international Callum Wilson hasn't scored in the league since late September, and you have to go back to late November for the last time his team scored multiple goals in a Premier League match.
Defender Steve Cook is suspended after an extraordinary "save" in the game against Norwich led to him being dismissed and the match-winning penalty being conceded. Eight senior players are injured, including striker Josh King and defender Charlie Daniels.
Brighton must start winning points instead of admirers
No-one doubts that Brighton boss Graham Potter has developed a stylish brand of football since arriving on the south coast, and the early award of a contract extension proves that the club feel he is on the right track. However, with the Seagulls just three points above the dropzone after failing to hold a lead in Saturday's 1-1 draw with Aston Villa, there is a need for the style to start producing substance on a regular basis.
Brighton have only won six of their 23 Premier League games, and their away form is particularly concerning. They have won just twice on the road (just once since the opening weekend) and they have lost six of their last eight league games outside the Amex Stadium.
Consistency has been a big problem for Brighton. They have only managed back-to-back wins once in the league this term, and they only put together consecutive league victories twice in the whole of 2019.
Tough to trust either team
Brighton are the 2.6213/8 favourites to win this, but frankly their away form makes them very difficult to back with any confidence. They did beat Bournemouth at the end of December, but they've collected just five points from the last ten away matches.
Bournemouth's form everywhere is atrocious, and the injuries have bitten hard. The suspension to Steve Cook won't help defensively, but the big problem is at the other end of the field.
If you are keen to back one of these sides to come out on top, I'd suggest using the Draw No Bet market for a bit of insurance. You can back Bournemouth on that basis at 2.1211/10, or Brighton at 1.875/6. If the game ends level, your stake is returned.
High stakes, and tension guaranteed
Bournemouth can't buy a goal at the moment, and Brighton are averaging not much above a goal a game. The reverse fixture stayed under the 2.5 goals line, and I'm surprised to see Under 2.5 Goals priced at evens here. That bet would have landed in seven of Brighton's last eight games in league and cup.
If you want a slightly bigger price, you could back No in the Both Teams To Score market at 2.285/4, which has paid out in nine of Bournemouth's last ten games in all competitions.
Another avenue is backing 0-0 in the Correct Score market as a trading option at 13.5. Brighton have only scored two away goals that have arrived in the first half hour of games, and Bournemouth simply aren't scoring at all. It's hard to see these teams taking early risks.