Newcastle v Brighton: Goals will be thin on the ground at St James' Park

Chris Hughton is back in Newcastle this weekend
Chris Hughton is back in Newcastle this weekend

This is a relegation battle between two sides with little in the way of attacking threats and with the stats backing up the fact there are clean sheets in matches involving them, there's an obvious but good bet out there, says Jamie Pacheco.

"Better still, five of the last six between these two would have seen ‘no’ being a winner on the ‘both teams to score’ market as would all of the last four they’ve played in Newcastle. If those stats don’t all suggest that the 4/5 on the Betfair Sportsbook that one side will fail to score, then I don’t know what does."

Newcastle v Brighton
Saturday December 30 15:00

January can't come soon enough for Rafa

Poor old Jose Mourinho. Apparently he needs to spend more money to have a competitive side.

He should try being Rafa Benitez for a day. Now there's a Manager with real problems. You suspect that's genuinely the case when Alan Shearer, arguably the club's greatest-ever player suggested they had a Championship squad after their 1-0 defeat to Manchester City. Who knows what a difference it could make that it was 'just' 1-0 rather than say 4-0, which on another day it could easily have been. For a side with a real chance of going down, it's not too early to be thinking about goal difference.

Where do they need strengthen their squad when the transfer window opens? Everywhere. But the biggest priority of all is a goalscorer. Dwight Gayle and Joselu are the joint top-scorers with three goals apiece and unless someone comes in and scores six or seven between now and May they'll surely be a Championship side.

At least they don't have many injuries right now with only Aleksandar Mitrovic definitely ruled out.

Just the game for Glenn Murray

Of the six or seven sides who could yet go down, Brighton would probably be the neutrals' preferred side to stay up. Chris Hughton is a good guy and they're a side who try to play decent football whilst avoiding controversy. Good on them.

But that of course isn't enough to ensure they will stay up. Key midfielder Pascal Gross has lost his mojo a bit over the past few weeks and needs to re-discover it whereas it's fair to say that Anthony Knockaert hasn't had any mojo at all this season. I guess some players just can't take the step up from Championship to Premier League.

Hughton may think about bringing back Glenn Murray to his starting line-up at the expense of Tomer Hemed. They looked more physical and threatening with the former Palace and Bournemouth man leading the line and this Newcastle defence may be just the sort that he can bully around a bit.

Brighton should get something from this game

If you feel like playing the match odds market, lay Newcastle. Time and time again this season you've seen home teams being priced up at sub 2.26/5 against sides who are considerably higher up the table than them purely based on reputation and home advantage. It's worth remembering the Magpies are on a horrible run. Bar an unexpected 3-2 win at West Ham, it's 10 games without a win. Even in that victory against the Hammers, they only had 36% possession.

Brighton haven't exactly been pulling up any trees themselves but purely based on price, keeping the Seagulls' win and a draw onside would be the smart move.

At least one clean sheet

But there's an even better bet on offer. Seven of Brighton's last eight games have seen at least one of the two sides keep a clean sheet.

Hardly surprising when you consider that for the most part they defend well without having too many potent weapons in attack.

For Newcastle it's three of their last four where at least one team has failed to score.

Better still, five of the last six between these two would have seen 'no' being a winner on the 'both teams to score' market as would all of the last four they've played in Newcastle. If those stats don't all suggest that the 4/5 on the Betfair Sportsbook that one side will fail to score, then I don't know what does.

Ref Watch

Anthony Taylor is in charge and he averages exactly four yellows a game. It's easy to jump to the conclusion that this game will have plenty of yellows simply because it's a match between two relegation candidates and therefore of vital importance but of course football doesn't always work like that. What you really shouldn't expect is a red card, though. Taylor has shown none from 17 matches this campaign.

If the 'player to be shown a card' market is your thing, then look out for a quote of 3.02/1 or bigger about Newcastle duo Jonjo Shelvey and Matt Ritchie. Or Glenn Murray, should he get a start. He's no angel, either.

Staked: 27.5 pts
Returned: 25.55 pts
P and L: -1.95

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