Seagulls to take advantage of ease in fixtures
A stunning comeback last weekend at Anfield earned Brighton a superb point thanks to goals from Enock Mwepu and Leandro Trossard, although manager Graham Potter will be glad to see the back of October following a run of brutal fixtures.
Having won six of their first seven in all competitions, they haven't won a game since although Liverpool, Arsenal, Manchester City and Leicester have been their opponents. The 0-0 with Norwich was certainly the one that got away.
To compound the pointless October, Potter lost out in the 2021 Beard Off Final to autor Michael Rosen; finishing last of the quartet. He'll have to grow a ZZ Top one for next season's final, although curiously the only member of that band not to have facial hair is Frank Beard.
The Seagulls changed it up again in terms of formation against the Reds, with a deeper 4-4-2 in defence switching between a 4-3-2-1 going forward and at times using a diamond with Yves Bissouma at the base. Mark Lawrenson had told the local press pre-match that they'd be committing "footballing suicide" if they tried to attack Liverpool too much, but attack they did, especially in the second-half although seeking the balance of attack and defence is still something the Brighton boss is looking for.
Potter was forced to make three changes with Dan Burn, Pascal Gross and Neil Maupay all missing out to injury, but the point now means they have won 16 points in their opening 10 league games this season (W4 D4 L2), their most ever after 10 top-flight matches in a season. Two defeats is their joint-fewest at this stage of a top-flight season, equalling their record in 1981-82 (W3 D5 L2).
Having advised a lay with Brighton to finish in the Top Six at 6.6011/2, they are a point shorter despite a blank month in term of wins.
Howe to be at the helm, with Sportsbook Specials on Toon now up
The long-winded search for Steve Bruce's successor appears to finally be over as Eddie Howe has reportedly agreed in principle to takeover and sign a two-and-a-half year contract at the club. He's been out of a job since leaving Bournemouth, a club where he lost 91 of 190 Premier League games with a win-rate of just 29%.
There are a few burnt fingers with Paulo Fonseca at one stage looking a done deal at long odds-on. Unai Emery snubbed the club too opting to stay put at Villareal, but Howe impressed the club's hierarchy in terms of presentation - something ironically that appears not to be the case with Emery and how he viewed the club's future planning. That at best seems a bit scattergun, and at worst as Alex Keble pointed out this week - akin to playing Football Manager.
Howe was not even the second choice, but his attacking brand of football will certainly be welcomed and there's a host of Newcastle Takeover Specials on the Sportsbook; with the shortest price being for them to finish in the top four in the Premier League next season at 9/1.
The task is gigantic as the Opta stats make for grim reading; they have failed to win any of their opening 10 league matches this season (D4 L6) - the Magpies have never had a longer winless start to a league season. They last went more than 10 league games without a win between December 2007 and March 2008 (13 games).
Their record against Saturday's opponent is also poor; Newcastle have faced Brighton without ever winning more often than they have any other side in the Premier League (D4 L4).
If you were expecting any early Christmas gifts with Brighton's price against winless Newcastle, you are wrong. The layers usually take no chances anyway with Potter's men, and I always think they go off shorter than they should, but Saturday must be the lowest price they have been for a long time at 1.645/8. It's fully understandable of course, and a repeat of the Liverpool performance sees Newcastle having zero chance.
For only the third time in its long history, the club, 19th in the Premier League with four points, has failed to win any of its first 10 league games, and the local press described at times Newcastle, especially against Spurs as a "shapeless mess" - a stinging review if ever there was one. However, interim boss Graeme Jones got a point at Palace and that was a game we successfully called the Draw outright and also the winning Betbuilder multiple.
Jones continued some good work with his preferred 5-3-2 formation, at least for 65 minutes against Chelsea last weekend with a far more organised first-half playing on the counter-attack and sitting very deep. They frustrated the European Champions, but two bad goals meant the game was dead as the Magpies hardly have an outlet up front, with Allan Saint-Maximim covered tightly. They only had one shot on goal all day.
The north-east club have only scored with one of their 96 shots in the top flight against Brighton and Hove Albion too (1.0%) - since 2017-18, that conversion rate is the lowest of any of the 344 instances a team has had at least 50 attempts against another opponent in that time, and even the 6.25/1 on offer for the win doesn't appeal.
Playing the draw up to half-time and getting out of the bet could be one way to trade if we get a performance like last Saturday, but there is no scope at all even laying Brighton at 1.645/8 to hope for something bigger, as they expected to win the game easily, and I doubt it will go any higher than 1.845/6 even if they concede early.
The natural reaction to a very short price is to look for the Half-Time/Full-Time bet, which is 2.226/5, but it's never a market I have much joy with, and for me, getting two results right even at slightly higher odds is difficult.
The vistors have the highest expected goals (xG) against figure of any team in the Premier League this season (20.2), while only Norwich have conceded more goals (25) than the Magpies (23). They are also one of only two teams still looking to keep a clean sheet in the competition this season, along with Watford. So I'd be surprised if Brighton weren't able to score here - especially considering their impressive performance last weekend with plenty of shots against Liverpool.
My preferred Betbuilder selection is backing the hosts and both teams to score 'no' at 2.3811/8 on the Sportsbook multiple.
It would be too easy to back at 1.645/8, and as I think Newcastle can keep it tight for the first 45 minutes, I am happy to lay Brighton/Brighton the HT/FT market at around 2.26/5.
Newcastle striker Callum Wilson is averaging a goal or assist every 50 minutes at the Amex Stadium in the Premier League (2 goals, 2 assists), scoring in both starts there when he played for Bournemouth. Among the 152 players to have played at least 200 minutes at the Amex, Wilson has the best minutes per goal or assist ratio at the stadium. Although he was close to making my 'lay list' in the To Score market, but I cannot see him going any lower than 3.55, which is out if my remit.