Although this may very well be a ‘winner probably wins promotion’ game, oddly enough, a draw wouldn’t be the worst outcome for either side. Brighton had a fairly straightforward 3-0 win over Reading in last weekend’s game of the week, but Newcastle were 2-0 down to Bristol City at half time before earning a point eight minutes from time.
Here’s what happened the last time they met, way back in August:
After last week’s win over Reading, Albion have now gone 14 games with a home defeat. As I wrote in the last post, that streak has got to end at some point, but the key question is whether it will tonight.
Newcastle haven’t lost any of their last eight, but there might be some signs that they might be wobbling as we near the end of the season. Last weekend’s draw with Bristol City was United’s third draw in their last half dozen games and the second time in three outings that they’ve had to come from behind to earn a point. Additionally, since the start of the year, Toon have only won half of their four aways.
Overall, defeat for either side wouldn’t be the end of their automatic promotion hopes, but with Newcastle having to face Huddersfield on Saturday, if United lose the Terriers will fancy their chances at home against a team that’s only five points ahead of them having played one more game. More about that game at the end of the week.
The last time the clubs met in Brighton for a league game was in December 1991, which finished 2-2. Since then, Albion have won two FA Cup ties, the most recent of which was in January 2013.
Verdict: Brighton can take a major step towards the Premier League with a win this evening and having beaten the other four teams currently in the top six at the Amex I think they can win this evening. Newcastle have a nasty looking run in – they’ve yet to travel to Huddersfield, Reading and Sheffield Wednesday – and this evening’s game may well give us a better idea of how United will cope with the pressure of winning promotion from the Championship. I said at the start of the season that I thought the playoffs might eventually be how they get back to the Premier League and this game might indicate how likely that scenario is.
Tomorrow night it’s Manchester City v Huddersfield in the FA Cup (BBC1, 7:45pm). It’d be fantastic for the last Championship club left in the competition to beat one of the big boys, but don’t hold your breath. I’m expecting City’s understrength side to be better than the Terriers’ understrength side.
I’ll update after the final whistle, otherwise I’ll be back on Friday.