Newcastle v Brighton
Saturday September 21, 17:30
Newcastle come up short at Anfield
Jetro Willems' fine first goal for Newcastle gave Steve Bruce's side a shock early lead at Anfield on Saturday but the Toon weren't able to hold on, eventually going down 3-1 on Merseyside. The Magpies never threatened to build on their surprise advantage - which came via their only shot on-target - in a largely one-sided encounter.
Newcastle's sole success this season was a shock 1-0 triumph at Tottenham, when the Toon had only 20% possession but defended a lead manfully. Bruce's boys looked to follow the same blueprint - enjoying just 24% of the ball - and for 20 minutes the flat back five looked hard to breach, before wilting under sustained pressure from the European champions.
With Florian Lejeune still out of action, Paul Dummett will continue to occupy the left-side of a three-man defence alongside skipper Jamaal Lascelles. Meanwhile, in Matt Ritchie's absence, Willems will feature again at left wing-back whilst Javier Manquillo could replace Emil Krafth on the opposite flank. Fabian Schar has joined the long Newcastle injury list.
Brighton count cost of late leveller
Brighton were denied a first home victory since March in stoppage-time against Burnley last weekend. The Seagulls were set to win it when Neal Maupay volleyed in Solly March's cross at the start of the second half, breaking the deadlock after both March and Glenn Murray had tested the Clarets backline with excellent efforts just before the break.
Davy Propper spurned a good chance to double the lead but Graham Potter's side conceded from Burnley's only shot on-target to leave Albion without a success since the opening day. The Brighton boss was frustrated by the final score post-match, saying, "We did enough in the game in relation to chances. You need to add those goals to kill off the game".
Potter isn't expected to make major changes to his starting XI on Saturday. Brighton have set-up in an expansive 3-4-3 system in their most recent outings with veteran Murray flanked by Maupay and Pascal Gross. Aaron Mooy is still awaiting his first Premier League start for the Seagulls, but summer signing Leandro Trossard and Jose Izquierdo are sidelined.
Seagulls can make their mark
Newcastle and Brighton have met regularly over the past three seasons with the Toon enjoying the upper-hand during the duos promotion-winning campaigns from the Championship. However, the tide has since turned in Albion's favour with the Seagulls unbeaten in four top-tier meetings against the Tynesiders (W2-D2-L0), conceding just once.
Newcastle 2.6213/8 have endured a difficult first five fixtures, facing three of the division's Big Six. Unsurprisingly, Steve Bruce's side have struggled to make their mark with the St James' Park club currently occupying rock-bottom in the Premier League's Expected Goals (xG) and xG from open play ratio rankings due to their lowly attacking output.
Brighton 3.1085/40 have been more expansive under new manager Graham Potter and despite losing to Southampton and Man City, the Seagulls looked comfortable against the Saints until Florin Andone's red card and were more adventurous than most teams at the Etihad, enjoying 47% possession and creating chances. The visitors have adapted very well.
Underlying numbers at this early stage place Potter's group inside the top-10 for a range of major metrics, with the visitors adventurous attacking efforts poles apart to their dour 2018/19 efforts. Such an approach is likely to pay dividends against the league's lesser lights and there's value in Brighton at 1.804/5 with a +0/0.5 start on the Asian Handicap.
Goals look undervalued at St James'
Only Aston Villa have attempted fewer shots inside the penalty area than Newcastle and no Premier League club are generating a lower Expected Goals (xG) figure thus far. Nevertheless, the Toon have fired a solitary blank with three of their first five fixtures paying-out for Both Teams To Score backers.
Like their hosts, Brighton have managed a solitary shutout in 2019/20 but shown plenty of encouraging signs in their new-look offensively-minded approach. With that in mind, Over 2.5 Goals could prove a potentially profitable angle of attack on Saturday evening at bulbous 2.466/4 quotes at St James' Park.
For more tips on the Premier League, check out this week's episode of Football...Only Bettor, with Betfair columnists Kevin Hatchard, Mark O'Haire and Jake Osgathorpe joining host Caroline Barker to preview all the weekend action