Brighton face Newcastle at The Amex tomorrow at 19:45, live on Sky Sports. This long-awaited fixture has been postponed numerous times, however the clash of the Championship leaders is finally set to take place. Personally, I wouldn’t view this as a promotion-deciding fixture, however I would certainly class this as a champion-deciding fixture.
Due to Newcastle’s recent disappointments, (2-2 QPR, 2-2 Norwich, 2-2 Bristol) we have failed to separate the gap between 1st and 2nd, and 1st and 3rd. If Newcastle were to win this fixture on Tuesday night, it would allow us to once again leapfrog Brighton, but wouldn’t exactly create a season-defining gap between the top two. What it would do though, is create a further gap between 1st and 3rd, as well as dropping Brighton closer to the chasing pack.
Newcastle are unbeaten in their last eight Championship games, picking up 18 points from a possible 24. Newcastle’s form has been good; however, we have found ourselves missing out on all three points, largely down to our own defensive errors and miscommunication, rather than the quality of our oppositions attack. Brighton on the other hand, remain unbeaten in just their last 5 games, having lost 3-1 to Huddersfield at the start of February, but their form has mostly remained consistent throughout the entire season thus far.
Brighton’s gem Anthony Knockart continues to shine in this division, while Newcastle are yet to regain the services of the top goal scorer, Dwight Gayle. This in turn, may leave the responsibility down to Aleksander Mitrovic or Daryl Murphy. Mitrovic has failed to impress in front of goal recently, missing many of his chances and failing to connect with the correct runs. Matt Ritchie and Yoan Gouffran continue with their consistent form, and all of our attackers, including the likes of Ayoze Perez and Mo Diame, must ensure they are physically and mentally prepared for a battle on Tuesday night.
When it comes to using the phrase ‘on paper’ it is a difficult game to assess. Newcastle’s away form is a positive. Having won 11 away games this season in the Sky Bet Championship, they stand in good stead, however Brighton’s home form counter-acts this, as they have lost just once all season at home. To add to this, Brighton have the mentality of coming off the back of a 3-0 win off fellow promotion chasers, Reading, whilst Newcastle know that they have the pressure to come back from an unfortunate draw.
If we could repeat the display of the reverse fixture at St James’ Park, that would be incredible. Remembering Jonjo Shelvey’s free kick which was perfection, as well as Jamaal Lascelles’ stunning header, topped off by Gouffran’s long range effort, which certainly rattled Brighton’s cage. One things for certain, this match, for those traveling down to Brighton, and those watching at home, will be an ‘edge of your seat’ experience.