• Championship Preview: AFC Bournemouth v Brighton and Hove Albion

    Despite being knocked out of the Capital One Cup midweek, Albion’s fighting spirit against Tottenham on Wednesday night should help boost confidence amongst squad as they return to Championship action this weekend.

    October once again proved to be a thorn in the Seagulls side, as they failed to pick up a single win during that month for the fourth consecutive season.

    With it now firmly in their rear view mirror, Sami Hyypia will be hoping that his side can finally end their run of 10 league games without a win, with pressure starting to mount from sections of the fans starting to lose confidence in him.

    However they travel to Dorset for this evening’s late kick off on Sky (and no doubt countless online streams) to face on the division’s in-form sides in Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth.

    After promotion to the Championship two years ago the Cherries have pushed on from their 10th place finish last season, and are currently fourth in the table, and with the best goal scoring record in the league.

    Howe has assembled a strong side that includes two former Albion players at the heart of his defence in Tommy Elphick and Steve Cook, with the summer signing of Callum Wilson from Coventry already paying dividends, thanks to his 9 goals in 14 Championship games.

    After their 8-0 demolition of beleaguered Birmingham last weekend, Brighton will be right to be worried about their opponents who have a mix of experience and youth with quality throughout the team.

    Barnes celebrates scoring his spectacular equalsier at Bournemouth last season

    This will be the 102nd meeting between the two sides, with the majority of these coming in the period between 1923-58 when both competed against each other in the old Southern Third Division in every season during that time.

    Overall it’s the Cherries who have the slander historical advantage, with a solitary victory separating their 37 wins from Albion in the fixture, with 28 games finishing all square.

    In the past twenty years the Seagulls have only managed to come away with all three points twice at the Goldsands Stadium the most recent of those being in October 2007 when goals from Dean Cox and Bas Savage sealed a simple victory for the away side.

    The most recent clash between the pair took place on New Years Day earlier this year, with that match also being broadcast on Sky. Matt Richie struck first for the Cherries with a thunderous shot just before the half hour mark to give the home side the lead.

    However a spectacular effort from Ashley Barnes – one of his last goals before joining Burnley nine days later – ensured the Seagulls left Dorset with a point.

    In terms of changes to the line-up from the last league game against Rotherham, there is guaranteed to be a change in-between the sticks for today’s match.

    David Stockdale was revealed to have broken his finger in training prior to the midweek trip to Spurs, meaning that 18-year old Christian Walton made his first team debut at White Hart Lane in the sides 2-0 defeat in the Capital One Cup.

    Albion’s young goalkeeping prospect couldn’t be faulted for either of the goals, and gave an impressive first performance against their Premier League opponents.

    Al-Habsi set to play between the sticks in Stockdale's absence. Image: Paul Hazlewood

    However with results the priority at this point, Hyypia has looked to the loan market in an effort to cover for Stockdale, bringing in Wigan’s Ali Al-Habsi on-loan for an initial month. The Oman international is expected to go straight into the starting line-up for tonight’s game.

    Whilst Aaron Hughes gave a good performance in midweek, skipper Gordon Greer is likely to go back into the defence, with Joe Bennett also likely to reclaim his place at left back from Adam Chicksen.

    Both Rohan Ince and Danny Holla started in North London on Wednesday night, however it’s likely that Gary Gardner will replace one of them in midfield.

    The front three took a new shape at White Hart Lane, with Adrian Colunga playing in the solitary striker role with Paddy McCourt and Kazenga Lua Lua playing behind him.

    With Sam Baldock available for selection and Craig Mackail-Smith back from injury, Colunga is likely to make way for either of them and could slot back into attacking midfield or be on the bench. Joao Teixeira could also return to the starting XI in place of either McCourt or Lua Lua.

    Ahead of the game Albion’s manager told the club’s official website that he wants to see his players bring out their killer instinct in front of goal this evening.

    “We just need to have the confidence to want the ball and be dangerous attacking wise. We need to have a ruthless mentality and want to hurt teams with our attacking play and score goals.

    “That’s what we have been lacking, we want to play nice football – but we are not doing so in the way I would like.”

    With wins now in desperate need with some sections of the Albion support calling for him to go, Hyypia will be hard pushed to get the sorely wanted three points at Bournemouth this evening.

    The opponents form suggests that they will take the game to us, and we will need to give as good as we get, and make the most of our chances if we are to have any chance of grabbing our first win since the end of August.

    With another two tricky games to follow in Wigan and Blackburn before the next international break, the Finn needs his players to show the resilience they did against Spurs again in the league and to start turning around results quickly.

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