So West Ham makes only one change since Monday night’s loss at Chelsea, Pablo Fornals retires and Ben Johnson, a nephew of Paul Parker and cousin of Ledley King, enters. That tells us Michail Antonio is still injured and means a change from four defenders to five, although I’m a bit surprised that I don’t see an additional attacker as a consequence, or maybe I think we all deserve 90 minutes from Saïd Benrahma. Okay, I do, and I can see why Moyes will consider that if he keeps things strong his players will find enough advantage to win, but also give us 90 minutes of Saïd Benrahma please.
West Ham United (a curiously positive 5-3-2): Fabianski; Coufal, Balbuena, Ogbonna, Cresswell, Johnson; Noble, Rice, Soucek; Bowen, Haller. Subs: Randolph, Fredericks, Dawson, Diop, Snodgrass, Lanzini, Yarmolenlo, Fornals, Benrahma.
Brighton & Hove Albion (a 3-4-2-1 holiday): Sánchez; White, Webster, Dunk; Burn, Bissouma, Lallana, March; Trossard, Maupay; Welbeck. Subs: Steele, Mac Allister, Gross, Jahanbaksh, Alzate, Propper, Zeqiri, Bernardo, Veltman.
Referee: Simon Hooper (Swindon’s lot)
Just when we think there is nothing more 2020 can do to surprise us, lets write the words “West Ham v Brighton” with the prefix “highly anticipated”. Not everyone, of course, but anyone who has spent some serious time watching these enterprising, idiosyncratic ensembles.
West Ham is the model of a modern David Moyes team: disciplined and tenacious but also full of creativity and conviction, full of physical monsters with artistic sensibilities. They’ve had a good season so far, and while a win today won’t move them past the 10th spot they already occupy, they will envision themselves to catch at least a couple of the clubs currently above them. Things are going well.
Brighton, meanwhile, is in a more pitiful position, out of the relegation zone by just one point with today’s game in hand. Given the state of Sheffield United and West Brom, chances are there is only one relegation spot up for grabs, which is good news; The bad news is that only they, Fulham and Burnley dispute it, and there is no good reason to believe that the latter will not easily escape.
The thing is, Brighton has some lovely footballers, Yves Bissouma, Neal Maupay, Leandro Trossard and Daniel Welbeck among them, so of the teams in the bottom seven, only Leeds have scored more goals. And Brighton’s defensive record isn’t terrible either: of the teams in the last nine, only Arsenal and Burnley have conceded the least. Their problem has been not scoring at the right times and conceding at the wrong times, a disease that can be summed up in last weekend’s behavior: they were given 50 minutes to score against a team with only one point, then conceded the first. goal and they had to rely on an 87 minute fight to get a point.
With their direct competitors both on a decent nick, they can’t keep shooting points, but there are few less-enjoyable teams to play against than West Ham. They will have to go a bit to get better out of this than when they started.
Start: 2.15 pm GMT
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