• Championship Preview: Wigan Athletic v Brighton and Hove Albion

    With Tuesday’s 0-0 draw against Huddersfield extending the side’s run without a goal to over a month, Albion will be looking to get back to scoring and winning ways this afternoon when they travel to face an all-but-relegated Wigan side.

    The Seagulls failed to register a shot on target as they were held to a goalless stalemate at the Amex by the Terriers, with Mustapha Carayol and Bruno both hitting the woodwork during the game.

    Thoughts after the match quickly turned to the well being of Joao Teixeira. The Liverpool loanee was stretchered off after going in for a challenge, which saw him pick up what looked to be a nasty leg injury.

    Tests the following day concluded that the 22-year old had broken his leg, ending his season and time on the South Coast with Brighton this season.

    Whilst he had blown hot and cold at points during the campaign, the Portuguese Under-21 international had shown his potential to grow into the player that many at Anfield think he can be.

    Having contributed to both the recent turnaround under Hughton as well as helping Hyypia get his tenure in charge off the ground last summer, Joao’s performances have certainly been one of the few bright spots of an otherwise forgettable season. Everyone at the club will wish him a speedy recovery.

    Teixeira departs the club as our top scorer in the Championship so far this campaign, and the rest of the squad will have to make up for his absence to make sure of their place in the division as they head to the DW Stadium today.

    A win today would not only be important to put help secure their status in the division as soon as possible, but it would also condemn their opponents to the third tier of English football for the start of the 2015-16 campaign.

    From the outside it looks as if the Latics have already begun to put plans in place for life in League One. Recently appointed boss Gary Caldwell’s lack of managerial experience isn’t likely to be as exposed in that league, and with the 2013 FA Cup winners still receiving Premier League parachute payments, there is every chance they could rebuild their squad and bounce back in a similar manner to how Wolves did.

    Caldwell’s appointment came after the dismissal of Malky Mackay, whose own appointment 138 days before that was controversial due to an ongoing investigation into sexist and homophobic text messages allegedly sent whilst he was in charge at Cardiff City.

    The off-the-field saga also saw long-time owner and Chairman David Whelan also dragged into the issue when he was charged by the FA for making racist and anti-Semitic comments.

    After receiving a fine and a temporary ban from running the club, Whelan chose to step down from his position as chairman, handing over the day-to-day running to his 23-yeard old grandson.

    Albion’s record in general against the rest of the bottom three hasn’t been great this season, however Wigan are the one team in the relegation zone that Chris Hughton’s side have overcome going into the reverse fixture.

    An early goal in the first minute from Gary Gardner meant the Seagulls had to hold on for almost 90 miutes at the Amex to pick up their first win in 12 games going back to August last year.

    Greater Manchester hasn’t been the happiest hunting ground for Brighton over the years, having only won one of their six visits to Wigan in their history. However that solitary win was also the most recent, as a goal from Andrew Crofts with just under 20 minutes remaining in the game sealed a crucial victory for Albion in their push for a play-off place last season.

    The injury to Teixeira is the only change that Hughton will have to make to the side going into today’s game, and will have a number of options to choose from.

    Teixeira has scored six goals in the league for Albion, with Lewis Dunk his closest rival this season

    Beram Kayal could be utilised further up the midfield, with Danny Holla likely to come in to sit in front of the back four alongside Rohan Ince, or alternatively a return to the starting line-up for Jake Forster-Caskey – who plays a more advanced role for the England Under 21 side – would be a straight swap.

    Speaking on the club website ahead of today’s game, Hughton gave his assessment of today’s opponents, and whether their situation will effect how tough today’s game will be.

    “Their style of play has changed since Gary has taken charge. He is somebody that has played under Roberto Martinez, when Wigan played quite an expansive game.

    “They are also a team that has the very difficult task of trying to win the right number of games to stay in this division.

    “While they still have a chance to survive they’ll give everything they can to do that. The pressure isn’t off of them and at this stage in the season, the pressure is on us too to get the right result."

    As has been the case since the end of March, the chances of Albion having to fight for their lives come the final day of the season are slim, however with only three games left there are few chances for them to give themselves breathing room.

    With a number of scenarios still possible, the ideal one for us is defeat for Millwall and victory for us this afternoon, which would assure us of safety with two games to go.

    However Wigan’s fate is not yet sealed either. With Rotherham possibly due a points penalty for fielding an ineligible player in their 1-0 win over us on Easter Monday, it gives both the Latics and the Lions hope of still being able to avoid the drop.

    At home they haven’t been at their strongest this season, with their last win coming back in August. However you can never predict what will happen when it comes to the Championship.

    Getting the formula right in the final third has been our problem, and the loss of Teixeira won’t make the task of scoring any easier. However to ensure we can rest easy as soon as possible, we need to rediscover our form in front of goal.
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