The view of the opposition: West Ham v Brighton
We provide analysis and the best bets as Slaven Bilic's side take on the Seagulls at the London Stadium.
With an identical record of two wins, two draws and four defeats from their opening eight matches, two goals are all that separate West Ham and Brighton in the Premier League table.
So, a close encounter ought to be on the cards when the two sides, who have scored a combined total of 14 goals in their 16 matches so far this season, meet on Friday at the London Stadium.
Especially with both teams missing their frontline forwards through suspension.
West Ham don’t tend to slip up against visiting promoted sides, with their 2-0 victory over Huddersfield earlier this season their sixth in a row without defeat.
And, having already kept a clean sheet in three of their four matches at home, the Hammers can be confident of extending that run against a team that are characteristically cautious away from home.
Even when finishing as runners-up in the Championship last season, Brighton scored fewer away goals than nine other teams in the division.
That conservatism has, predictably, been compounded by promotion to the Premier League, with the Seagulls scoring only one goal and earning just a single point – when playing against 10 men for more than an hour – in their four away matches so far.
Chris Hughton did not even start a striker in their most recent away match at the Emirates, which is perhaps understandable considering that Glenn Murray, his only other alternative, has not scored a top-flight goal since December 2015.
The visitors’ most obvious threat, therefore, comes from the wings, with last season’s Player of the Year Anthony Knockaert getting off the mark last week and England Under-21 international Solly March a stand-out performer so far.
Slaven Bilic’s recent switch to a flat-back four ought to deny space down the flanks, and also enable him to deploy a similarly attacking midfield to the one seen at Turf Moor last week.
Against a rear-guard action as resolute as Brighton’s, it is those multiple runners into the box who are most likely to provide the breakthrough.
1st half draw –
Under 2.5 goals –
West Ham to keep a clean sheet –