Brighton v Newcastle
Monday July 20, 18:00
Live on Sky
Have Brighton progressed?
Brighton, it seems, have done enough. They look to have secured yet another season of Premier League football and even though it wasn't always pretty, it was effective enough to get them the points they needed to stay up.
The question you then have to ask is: have they actually progressed under Graham Potter? To an extent, yes. Last season they finished 17th with 36 points and right now, they're on 37, up in 15th, and have two games to add to their points tally, though where they actually finish of course depends on how the other teams do.
But they haven't really progressed that much in terms of the way they played. It's still a case of keeping games as low-scoring as possible, looking to nick a goal from a set-piece or on the break, and defending for their lives. In other words, all very similar to how they were playing when they decided Chris Hughton wasn't the man to stay in charge.
Potter has pretty much a full squad to choose from.
Injuries help to explain poor run
Newcastle are on a run of three straight defeats but I think we can forgive them a bit for each of those. Anyone can get thrashed 5-0 away at Man City, Watford were desperately fighting for their lives when they beta them 2-1 and Harry Kane found his shooting boots in scoring a brace in midweek, when they lost 3-1 at home to Spurs.
Not ideal either way but it must be pretty hard to motivate yourself as much as other sides looking to beat the drop or make Europe when you're not playing for much yourself. Though of course, that 'should' just be part of the job.
Injuries haven't helped. Key men like Isaac Hayden, Sean Longstaff, Fabian Schar and Jamaal Laschelles have all been missing and that's going to affect any side.
Brighton are 2.01/1 to win the game. Now, let's see if we can justify that price. We can't on the grounds of the league table, where Newcastle are six points better off. We certainly can't when we consider that the Seagulls have actually lost their last three in a row, and badly. Of course, a run of matches at home to Man Utd, Liverpool and Man City is just about as hard as you're going to get, but still. And we can't in terms of the head-to-head at the Amex Stadium, a record which reads two Brighton wins, a Newcastle one and a draw.
There are obviously two teams on the pitch and the other one hasn't been much better of late but then again, it's not Newcastle who are priced at just evens.
As far as I'm concerned, these are two struggling sides and I'm perfectly happy keeping Newcastle, and more crucially, the draw, onside. Lay Brighton.
The case for 'overs'
Overs are 2.3411/8 and when you first look at that, you think it's worth swerving because Brighton home games tend to be low-scoring. In terms of season-long stats, you'd be right. Just 39% of the games in Brighton have gone overs.
So, can we make a case for a gamble on the outsider? I think we can. This is admittedly a case of somewhat doctoring the data but all of Newcastle's last three away games and three of Brighton's last four home ones, have all gone over 2.5 goals. Perhaps of greater interest is that 55.6% of Newcastle's away games all season have gone overs and that's the stat that convinces me this is a good bet.
I was kicking myself in midweek when I went for two goalscoring midfielders at big prices, only to go for the wrong ones. I did consider Matt Richie (8/1 here) but in the end went for Jonjo Shelvey (11/2) and Miguel Almiron (5/1). I wouldn't put anyone off backing all three for small stakes. I really wouldn't be the slightest bit surprised if one of them scored.
For Brighton, Neal Maupay is the favourite at 13/10 with that man Lewis Dunk, a constant threat from set-pieces, a 13/2 chance.