Brighton away this season seems more about building a little confidence and momentum going into the Europa round of 16 tie against AC Milan, than about a desperate search for 3 points. However, the two go hand-in-hand – a victory seems essential to restore some pride in performance after two fairly predictable defeats this week to the country’s top side.
Currently 12th, Brighton have had a good season but their League position hides the fact that they are only 4 points above a relegation spot. They will be fighting tooth and nail to ensure their survival, thus consolidating a position in the Premier League.
The Seagulls’ squad is a bit of a mystery to me. I’ve been reading good things about their Australian keeper Maty Ryan, who is similar in build to David Ospina but makes up for his relative lack of height with speed, agility and great positioning. Propper, Dunk, Bong and Knockaert sounds more like a great Saturday night out to me, though I’m sure they’re all very fine professionals.
Manager Chris Hughton seems largely untainted by his seedy past association with the more excremental parts of North London. His stay at the Amex has seen a successful battle to avoid relegation in the latter half of the 2014/5 season, a creditable narrow miss for promotion the season after and last season’s march to an automatic promotion spot.
Enough of the opposition, how are we fixed? As far as I can tell, only Nacho and Laca are definitely out, with Jack available again after a slight knock (or temporary withdrawal from the frontline due to his disgust at his contract offer – you choose).
Let’s see a positive response from the reported ‘inquest’ after Thursday’s game. It really is time the players performed to their abilities and gave us all some hope rather than continually letting down both the fans and our beleaguered manager.
I’m going for a couple of goals for Auba. It seems harsh and hasty to judge him in any way on his Arsenal career so far. Yes, he has missed chances against the spuds, in the Final last Sunday and Thursday’s pen but he really has come into a team running at an extremely low ebb. That whole feeling of drifting towards mid-table mediocrity needs to change today on the South coast with a quality team performance featuring solid defence, sparkling creation and cold-blooded finishing.
As BR would say, “Let it be so”.