Newcastle v Brighton – Having come so desperately close last season, the Seagulls are not showing any signs of a play-off hangover and have made a really solid start to the new season.

As you are well aware, Chris Hughton is not only a very capable manager but a gentleman and one of football’s all round good guys. It’s very hard to dislike him or wish him anything but well. He has built a side at Brighton very much in his own image and like any Hughton side, Brighton play good football, excellent football on their day, and I believe will be one of the Mags’ main rivals for automatic promotion this season.

Like an annoying wasp around a picnic, Brighton can drive teams crazy, no matter how many times you swat them they will refuse to go away.

Having said that, the Smoggies showed the way to beat Brighton…get amongst them and don’t let them settle for a moment. If we let Houghton’s men play, they could hurt us, but if we close them down and don’t allow them to get their passing game going, they get frustrated, lose discipline and are open to be picked off on the counter (does that remind you of anyone close to our hearts?).

Players to watch:

The excellent Lewis Dunk, a goal scoring centre-back  who’ll put his head in a lion’s mouth and throw himself in front of a bullet to keep his goal intact, but can be impetuous and can sometimes be red carded for reckless challenges. Dunk has recently been linked with a move to the Stadium of Plight.

In central midfield Berim Kayal is a great ball winner who plays it simple. Win the tackle and give it to someone who can play. Alongside him is Dale Stephens, a box to box midfielder who is a vital link between Brighton’s attack and defence.

Stephens put the Seagulls right back in the game at Smogside with his crucial equaliser but then got himself sent off moments later with a horrific challenge on Ramirez. His dismissal was not only a turning point on the day but his subsequent suspension also cost Brighton in the play-offs.

Frenchman Anthony Knockaert is a talented winger who is capable of winning a game on his own, and his explosive talent gives the Seagulls that vital x-factor that can turn one point into three in the blink of an eye. Glenn Murray, currently on loan from Bournemouth, a proven goalscorer who may well be the final piece in Hughton’s promotion jigsaw.

My prediction may not be a popular one but I think honours even in a hard fought contest.

Rafa Personalised Gifts  -