Last updated December 31st, 2020
Can West Ham continue their very solid Premier League season when they host a Brighton side struggling for results at the London Stadium (2.15pm Sunday, live on Sky Sports)? Check out this WHUFC vs BHAFC preview and full analysis from Just Bookies for the answer.
The Hammers flirted with relegation for much of last season, eventually finishing five points clear of the drop. They are unlikely to have any such problems this time around after picking up a very decent 21 points from their first 14 matches, enough for 10th in the table.
That seems like an appropriate position for a side who have the 10th best scoring record and ninth best defensive record in the league at this stage and whose underlying numbers also similarly peg them as an upper mid-table team. Their stability says much for the good work that David Moyes has done since taking over from Manuel Pellegrini this time last year.
West Ham do very much look like a Moyes team. They are solid in all aspects of play, quick and direct in transitional phases of play (where top scorer Jarrod Bowen looks particularly threatening) and well-drilled in both attacking and defending set pieces. After a few jobs that didn’t at all work out for him, the former Everton manager again seems to have found a setting to his liking at the London Stadium.
Moyes’ side do, though, come into their penultimate match of the calendar year on the back of a 0-3 defeat away to Chelsea last weekend. They went behind to an early goal, and while they were able to make decent inroads thereafter, they fizzled out after the hour mark. Chelsea came on strong and added a couple more goals in the final quarter-hour of play to finish things off.
Whereas West Ham’s performances, metrics and results all more or less match up, Brighton are in the frustrating position of looking a very good side by every measure but the one that ultimately counts: results. Their underlying numbers are great, better than some of those competing for a top-four place, and their slick football has brought them plenty of praise, yet they only have 12 points on the board and are currently fourth from bottom.
Graham Potter’s side were not only unable to secure all three points but only grabbed one thanks to a late goal from Danny Welbeck against the 10 men of Sheffield United on Sunday December 20th. Their visitors went a man down prior to the interval, only to take the lead just after the hour mark. Brighton piled on the shots thereafter, ending the match with 21 shots to the five of United, and finally got their reward with Welback’s 87th-minute strike.
It was the latest of a series of matches in which they haven’t quite managed to take advantage of their good play. If anyone within the club is analytics savvy then Potter’s job should be secure, not least because Brighton’s current position isn’t an unfamiliar one for the club. Since their return to the top flight in 2017, achieved following a 34-year absence, they have thrice finished in the bottom six, including a 17th place finish in 2018-19.
Potter has successfully changed the team’s style of play from the somewhat stodgy and reactive approach of his predecessor Chris Hughton to a more proactive and entertaining one. Given that they are currently underperforming their expected numbers at both ends of the pitch, results should eventually arrive. There are still plenty of points to play for.
It would, of course, be very useful if Brighton could start gaining the results their metrics suggest they are capable of sooner rather than later. There will inevitably come a point at which results take precedence, particularly if the teams below them start to improve.
Both of last season’s fixtures between these sides ended in draws: 3-3 at the London Stadium and 1-1 at Brighton’s AMEX Stadium. While it is not normally a result Just Bookies would suggest backing, on this occasion it seems like a solid play in a match in which its difficult to make an overwhelming case in favour of either side. So the West Ham vs Brighton betting tip for this preview is:
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