Brighton face an in-form West Ham at the Amex Stadium on Friday night and Steve Rawlings fancies an entertaining affair with more than a few goals. Read his take on the live tie here...
“This may well be a tough tie to call but it looks likely to be an entertaining affair to start the weekend. Brighton will feel this is where their season can really get going but West Ham are on a roll and we could just see a great game of football.”
Brighton v West Ham
Friday October 5, 20:00
Live on Sky Sports
Brighton looking to kick-start their campaign
After seven games of the new Premier League season, Brighton have acquired just seven points but it's hard to criticise them too harshly given their early fixtures.
Watford away on the opening weekend transpired to be a tough opening assignment given the Hornets won their next three games after defeating the Seagulls. A 3-2 victory against Manchester United at the Amex, was followed by a trip to Anfield where a 1-0 defeat has to be viewed as a respectable result, and they played really well at the Etihad on Saturday before eventually going down 2-0.
They were two fixtures in which zero points would have been the expected return for the Seagulls. In-between, there have been a pair of 2-2 draws, at home to Fulham and away to Southampton, and a 2-1 defeat at home to Spurs, where they were always second best against a team desperate to get back on track after three straight defeats.
All things considered, Brighton manager, Chris Houghton, may well have taken seven points from those seven games before the season began.
It's a whole different story now though, having done the double over West Ham last season, 3-0 away and 3-1 at home, and having lost just two of their last ten Premier League ties at home, they'll be wanting and possibly expecting to bag all three points here.
The Hammers are on a roll
With seven new signings and a brand-new manager in Manuel Pellegrini, a slow start to the campaign was perhaps understandable, but after four straight defeats against four strong sides in Liverpool, Bournemouth, Arsenal and Wolves, the Hammers have turned things around spectacularly.
Goodison Park is never an easy place to go so their 3-1 win there against Everton, inspired by two great strikes by impressive new signing, Andriy Yarmolenko and one from Marko Arnautovic, was an eye-catching result but it didn't stop in Merseyside.
A 0-0 draw at home to title contenders, Chelsea, an 8-0 drubbing of Macclesfield in the League Cup, and a 3-1 defeat over Manchester United have seen Pellegrini go from favourite to see the door to a rank outsider behind odds-on shot, Jose Mourinho, in the Next Manager to Leave market.
West Ham have a poor record at Brighton, although the two sides have hardly met with regularity. They're looking to secure back-to-back Premier League away wins for the first time since February 2017, and with the momentum of late, they'll be a force to be reckoned with.
Too tough to call
Having attended the match on Saturday, Brighton impressed me somewhat against Manchester City and they're a team I want to be on the right side of going forward, especially at the Amex, but they couldn't be facing West Ham at a worse time.
Given their strong record at home and in particular, at home to the Hammers, a case could be made for backing Brighton at around the [2.7] mark but going against Pellegrini's men with their recent form doesn't greatly appeal.
By default, given it's such a tough tie to call, if I was forced to put up a bet on the Outright market I'd plump for the draw at [3.35] but fortunately that's not necessary as there are much easier pickings in the side markets...
Goals and entertainment look likely
This may well be a difficult match to predict but it's likely to be an entertaining affair. Brighton will feel this is where their season can really get going but West Ham are on a roll and we could just see a great game of football.
The Seagulls have kept things tight against better opposition, where they've been very well-organised and they've kept the goal tally down, but in the two games against sides around them in the league, Fulham and Southampton, where they've played more expansive football, there have been goals from both teams with both ties ending 2-2.
West Ham were beaten by just a solitary goal at home to Premier League new boys, Wolves, and drew 0-0 with Chelsea but there have been plenty of goals in every other game they've played this season. Over 2.5 Goals here looks the play at odds-against and I don't mind risking a small wager at an industry-best 3/1 about Over 3.5 Goals.
Brighton have conceded in every Premier League match they've played in this season and West Ham have only kept just one clean sheet (at home to Chelsea) so my idea of the best bet on Friday is Both Teams to Score at an industry-best 9/10.
At 35, Glenn Murray's no spring chicken but he's still confounding his age and he has a great record against West Ham. He's bagged four so far this season already and he's scored five goals in his last four league matches against them, including three last season. In a game where goals look likely, the Brighton talisman appears a decent bet at 6/4 to find the net.
Same Game Multi
If you fancy combining two or more scenarios to build a bet that pays a bit more, click on the Same Game Multi tab at the top of the Sportsbook market and pick two or more selections to build a wager. For example, Over 2.5 Goals and Glenn Murray to score pays very nearly 3/1 and Over 3.5 Goals and Glenn Murray notching pays almost 11/2.
Staked: 24.5 pts