• Championship Preview: Wolverhampton Wanderers v Brighton and Hove Albion

    After last Fridayís defeat to Millwall, speculation was rife regarding the future of Albion boss Sami Hyypia, however he will take charge of todayís trip to mid-table Wolverhampton Wanderers.

    The 1-0 loss in front of the Sky cameras eight days ago triggered numerous newspaper headlines linking everyone from Tony Pulis to Tim Sherwood to what looked a soon-to-be vacant managerial hot seat at the Amex.

    The impression was that the following Monday would see the Finn depart the club, something that a vast number of fans have been calling for.

    However that day passed without incident, and it would seem that Chairman Tony Bloom is still sticking with his guns over the Christmas period and seemingly into the New Year - a crucial period for the side to do some good business to give them the best chance possible of staying up.

    Having also received the playerís backing, the club as a whole needs to pull together going into a trip to the Midlands against one of the recently promoted sides.

    Having culled most of the squad that were part of back-to-back relegations that saw them end up in League One last season, Wolves rebounded at the first time of asking. This season they carried on from where they left off, losing only one of their opening nine games.

    However since November theyíve fallen by the way side, conceding 14 goals in their last six games including drubbings at the hands of Derby, Nottingham Forest and Brentford.

    With only one win in their last seven games, they now sit squarely mid-table in 12th, however they will still pose a real threat to Albion going into todayís game.


    Seagulls chairman Bloom sticking with Hyypia as manager

    As far as bogey teams are concerned, historically the Seagulls have been a thorn in the side of Wolves, with 12 wins compared to their five victories, with seven having ended a draw.

    The last time the pair clashed at Molineux in November 2012 it was a six-goal thriller as the sides finished all square at the final whistle. The home side took the lead twice with Albion pegging them back, before Stephen Dobbie slotted an 89th minute penalty that looked to be taking all three points back to Sussex.

    However in added time Roger Johnson responded for the former Premier League side to level the game at 3-3 at the final whistle.

    Brightonís last win in Wolverhampton was also a high scoring game, and you have to go back almost 14 years to find it, with Mark Barhamís 81st minute goal handing Barry Lloydís side the win on that occasion.

    With very few of the injured players such as Gordon Greer and Kazenga LuaLua likely to be fit for todayís game, the line-up is going to look similar to that as last weekís clash with the Lions.

    The back four could see two changes that are dependant on one player dropping out. If Aaron Hughes came back into the starting line-up in place of Greg Haford, itís likely the Nottingham Forest loanee would drop out of the squad to allow Joe Bennett to feature, and he would probably start ahead of Adam Chicksen.

    Whilst Hyypia might not change the midfield, there has been a real gap missing because of the lack of holding midfielder, and a return for either Rohan Ince or Danny Holla for one of Jake Forster-Caskey or Gary Gardner would be a welcome change, with the latter midfield pairing looking lightweight on many occasions in games.

    Ahead of the game, goalkeeper David Stockdale spoke about the frustrations the side have had with injuries, illness and games not making the most of chances, and he believes they havenít played to their full potential on the field enough this season.


    Midfield would benefit from return of Rohan Ince (above) or Danny Holla

    ďOne of the best games Iíve been involved with was the first half at Leeds United. We set the bar for ourselves and we just havenít reached that yet. We know we can because it was there for all to see.

    ďI think its one of the best possession halves Iíve ever been involved with and thatís what Brighton are used to. Thatís what Brighton fans are used to and thatís what we try to give them. Hopefully we can do that in the coming weeks, have a really good Christmas and give people some presents.Ē

    With Albion in a real fight to stay up and their backs against the wall, Hyypia believes this is the time for the players to show their character and pull themselves out of the bottom three as soon as possible.

    ďItís very important you have those strong characters in the bad times because in the good times everyone can go with the flow and it doesnít matter what kind of character you are. But when itís tough you need everyone to pull together and everyone to be strong, and then youíll see the real character of people.

    ďWhen I think of myself, if itís going well or going bad Iím still myself. Weíve talked before about jumping up and down on the touchline, and if itís going well Iím not the one jumping up and down, and if itís bad Iím not doing that. Itís my character and itís difficult to change that.Ē

    Whilst many were hoping that the Finn would no longer be in charge of the side for this game, that isnít the case, and the best fans can hope for is that things donít get worse from here on out.

    More defeats and the margin between us the teams above increasing might lead to Hyypia leaving at some point, and people might want to see that happen if it leads to that. However supporting Brighton has always been about the team first and foremost, and itís up to us to back them first before making it about the manager.

    As always it will be a tough game today, and in our current circumstance itís hard to see where a win is coming from, but perhaps Bloomís faith in Hyypia isnít as misguided as many of us believe.

    He could turn it around, he might not, but he is being given the chance to. At some point though if things continue to spiral out of control even Bloom will have to say ďenough is enoughĒ. However in the Championship, you can never predict how things are going to pan out.
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