• Championship Preview: Huddersfield Town v Brighton and Hove Albion; Tuesday 18th August 2015

    Having maintained their 100 percent start to the season with a last gasp win at Fulham over the weekend, Albion will look to keep the momentum going with a midweek trip to West Yorkshire to face a Huddersfield side who may find themselves amongst the struggling pack of teams this season.

    With Saturday’s clash at Craven Cottage seemingly heading for a draw, the Seagulls were awarded a chance late on to snatch all three points when Kazenga LuaLua was adjudged to have been brought down inside the box in added on time at the end of the second half. Multiple replays show it may have been just outside the penalty area, but in truth it was a close call.

    Tomer Hemed stepped up for the spot kick, and after a long run up the Israeli striker comfortably slotted past Cottagers ‘keeper for the winning goal, sending the 3,800-strong visiting support into frenzy.

    The final whistle blew minutes later, and Chris Hughton’s side sealed their third win in as many games since returning to competitive action. As the only side in the Championship to have won both of their opening games, Brighton top the table at this early stage in the season.

    Whilst they have got off to a flier this season, Albion will know that they can’t get ahead of themselves after only three games. The results provide them with momentum going forward, but they know that to have a strong season will rely on them taking each game as it comes, and preparing accordingly.

    With a busy schedule until the end of August, they will rely on the strength in depth in the squad, and a day prior to the trip to West London the club announced a new signing who will do just that. After being linked with him earlier in the transfer window, Albion announced the arrival of Scottish winger Jamie Murphy, who joins from League One Sheffield United for an undisclosed fee.

    The club had been trying to tie up deals for NEC Nijmegen Iranian star Alireza Jahanbakhsh – who has since gone on to join Dutch first division side AZ Alkmaar – and Blackburn’s Ben Marshall at various points over the summer, however they were rebuffed in their efforts to bring both players to the Amex.

    Therefore Hughton and his recruitment team returned to Murphy to help boost their options out wide, with only Kazenga LuaLua, Solly March and Inigo Calderon to turn to for options on the flanks. The 25-year old also knows where the back of the net is, having scored 12 times in 58 appearances for the Blades last season, and was named the club’s player of the season as they were beaten in the play-off semi finals by Swindon.

    Hemed seals Albion's third win in three games at Fulham. Image: Paul Hazlewood

    The Scotsman becomes the Seagull’s ninth signing of the summer, and the fifth in terms of attacking options being added to the squad. His arrival came too late for him to play a part in the win at Craven Cottage, however he will be eligible to feature in the trip to the John Smith’s Stadium tomorrow evening.

    Albion take on a Terriers side who got off the marks in terms of points at the weekend, but whom are still searching for their first win of the campaign. Chris Powell’s side came away empty handed from their opening day game against Hull, and were also beaten in their League Cup clash with ten-man Notts County last Tuesday. After telling his team that they didn’t want to find themselves in “a dogfight” this season, Powell’s men took the game to Blackburn at the weekend, however they were only able to come away from the game with a point.

    Having brought in mostly free transfers in the summer, Huddersfield are likely to find themselves battling it out in the bottom half of the Championship this season, and are among many of the bookies’ favourites to be relegated from the second tier of English football come May.

    To avoid that fate, they will be looking to the likes of Nakhi Wells to keep finding the back of the net, with the 25-year old having scored 14 times for the Terriers last season, and notching their first league goal of the campaign against Rovers at the weekend.

    The biggest talking point from Albion’s line-up on Saturday was Lewis Dunk making way for Uwe Hunemeier in the back four, fuelling speculation regarding the 23-year old’s future at the club. Hughton has dismissed rumours regarding interest from his former club Newcastle regarding Dunk, however whether he is included or not in tomorrow’s starting XI, speculations over his future at Albion will continue until the transfer window closes September 1st.

    Murphy set to be part of the squad for trip to Huddersfield tomorrow. Image: Paul Hazlewood

    Despite being the away side, Albion go in to the game as the bookies favourites, with many pricing them at 6/4, with a home win priced at the longer odds of 2/1. A draw between the sides is at longer odds than a win for either side, though it varies depending on which bookmaker you bet with.

    As the only side to have won every league game so far in the Championship, the only way for Albion is down at this point. Whilst the management and players know that at some point it’s inevitable they won’t come away from a game with a win or points at all, they will want to maintain their current momentum for as long as they possibly can.

    Winning games against the sides that are likely to be struggling later in the campaign is key, and as harsh as it is to say that about Huddersfield at such an early stage in the season, they look like they could be one of those teams.

    Granted it won’t be an easy task for Albion to simply stroll up and pick up three points. Wells will cause problems for us, and we’ve always had a tough time of things in our last few trips to the John Smith’s Stadium; however with the positive momentum the club are riding at the moment and the continued investment that is going into the squad means that they will be confident of coming away with a good result from West Yorkshire tomorrow evening.
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