• Championship Preview: Brighton and Hove Albion v Blackburn Rovers

    Having finally ended their winless run stretching back to the end of August against Wigan on Tuesday night, Sami Hyypia’s Brighton side will likely go into this afternoon’s match at the Amex with more confidence as they play their final game before the next international break.

    Whilst the performance wasn’t the best from the side this season, Gary Gardner’s striker in the first minute of the game was enough for Albion to grind out the much-needed victory over the Latics.

    The result eases the pressure in terms of ending that run for Hyypia, however with other teams in and around them also coming away with good results in the week, there is still a possibility that the Seagulls could find themselves in the bottom three during the two-week domestic break.

    Therefore the pressure to perform is still on for the Finn and his players in a match against strong opponents in former Premier League champions Blackburn.

    After two years of getting to grips with life in the Championship after relegation from the top tier of English football in 2012, Rovers have found their feet under Gary Bowyer this season, and find themselves amongst a mix of teams jostling for a place in the top six. They currently sit 8th in the table, and a win today could see them move up to three places higher if other results go their way.

    Albion’s defence is likely to come under heavy scrutiny during the game, with Rudy Gestede among the in form strikers in the league with 9 goals this season, whilst the highly talented Jordan Rhodes is always a danger at this level.

    In terms of looking at past games historically, there’s next to nothing to separate the sides, with both having won 11 games each, and drawn another 10. However all of Albion’s victory’s have come in the league, with today’s visitors having picked up a solitary win in both the League and FA Cup.

    Since Blackburn dropped down to this level the Seagulls have fared marginally better in this fixture, picking up a win at home last season, with the other three games finishing all square. The home side cruised to a 3-0 victory in November 2013, with a brace from Ashley Barnes and Jake Forster-Caskey strike sealing all three points on that occasion.

    The arrival of Greg Halford on a short-term loan from Nottingham Forest prior to the Wigan match has handed Hyypia a selection headache going into today’s game.

    Halford was able to slot into the squad on Tuesday due to Ali Al-Habsi not being able to play against his parent club, however with the Oman goalkeeper eligble for selection today the Seagulls will only be able to name five of their six loan players in the squad.

    Whilst Christian Walton once again stepped up to the mark against the Latics, it’s likely that Al-Habsi will be chosen to start every game while he is here due to his experience.

    With Lewis Dunk and Gordon Greer both one card away from suspension and Aaron Hughes not quite ready to return from injury, Halford is all but certain onto be on the bench today. With both Elliott and Joe Bennett almost guaranteed to play, it’s likely that one of Tuesday’s match winner Gardner or Joao Teixeira will miss out on a place in the squad.

    In defence Bruno won’t be fit to play, therefore Calderon, Dunk, Greer and Joe Bennett will retain their places in the starting line-up.

    With Danny Holla and Rohan Ince both starting from the bench in the week, either or both could make an appearance in the starting XI, with Forster-Caskey and Gardner the most likely men to make way. In that situation it could therefore be the Villa loanee who misses out on a place in the squad.

    The four attacking-minded players in Elliott Bennett, Kazenga Lua Lua, and Teixeira in midfield, with Sam Baldock as the striker up top, could all start once again. However with Hyypia’s fondness for rotating the squad, starts for Adrian Colunga, Paddy McCourt or Craig Mackail-Smith can’t be ruled out.

    Speaking prior to today’s match, Hyypia spoke about begin prepared to put in a good performance if they are to come out of today with a good result.

    “They have a few individuals who can hurt you if given time, and they will play with high tempo and try to be direct.

    “We need to have the courage and maybe the cleverness to play in a way that we were lacking on Tuesday. We know that we can do better and we just need the right mentality.”

    Skipper Gordon Greer also spoke ahead of kick off today, and he feels that there is a need to focus on what the side are doing right now and ignore the bad run of form they ended against Wigan.

    “Things can change so quickly because there’s so many games. It’s about us getting a good run together, forgetting about where we’ve been and what’s happened. It’s just about concentrating on ourselves and doing what we can.'

    It’s fair to say that having finally got a win in the league once again, the last thing anyone wanted was to hit a two-week break that might kill any momentum. However that’s the situation we’re in, and there is still a need to grind out results with three of the four bottom sides hot on our tails.

    Getting the long sought after win won’t relieve all of the pressure form Hyypia’s shoulders. With the club still in a tricky position he will be expected to navigate us through this period.

    Blackburn have had a good start to the season, however with a number of positive signs coming from recent performances there’s every chance we can get a second win in a row at the Amex this afternoon.
    Comments 1 Comment
    1. symyjym's Avatar
      symyjym -
      wrong thread, please delete
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