Tough road ahead for Brighton and Hove Albion to avoid relegation
There are seven games ahead for Brighton & Hove Albion and only 5 points right now separate ‘The Seagulls’ from the relegation line. We will start by giving you the good news. There is only one more spot to play in the Championship next season, since Huddersfield and Fulham already booked their places.
Furthermore, Brighton has one more game to play than its most direct competitors – Southampton and Cardiff City. Also, one of the games in calendar from Brighton is exactly against the latter, Cardiff, who is in the red zone position at the moment, with 28 points. It will be a home fixture at the Amex and a victory at that game might seal the deal of maintenance and guarantee one more season of Premier League football.
Though, here comes the bad news: 4 of the 7 matches until the end of the season are against the top 7 placed teams. To start with, Brighton will play the dark horse of this season’s Premier League, Wolverhampton Wanderers, who are just below the top 7 in April 20th. The visit to the Moulinex Stadium must be faced with caution, since Wolves are quite a threat at the moment. Nonetheless, the most ‘Portuguese’ English team is also known to be some kind of Robin Hood: they take points from the top 6 teams and they ‘give’ points to the bottom teams. I mean, what can you expect from a team who wins twice to Manchester United in a month and then gets defeated against Burnley and Watford?
Hopefully after escaping a wolf’s bite, Brighton will visit Tottenham Hotspur’s brand-new stadium, in the 23rd of April. Chris Hughton’s squad must stop Kane and company and hope for Pochettino’s boys to be on an uninspired day. Due to the heavy calendar for the Spurs, with Champions League added fatigue, Brighton might capture some boost, by having better rested players.
Next to the London trip, Brighton will come back home, in the 27th of April, to host the always unpredictable Newcastle team. Right now, with 35 points, two more than the Seagulls, but with two more games played, the Magpies aren’t exactly in a safe position either. Therefore, a victory for the ones in blue and white will be a very important achievement in the fight for avoiding the remaining relegation spot.
Back to the capital again, in the beginning of May, Brighton will go to the Emirates to play against Arsenal. The Gunners are right now in a tight battle with Chelsea, United and Spurs, for the last two Champions League positions so they won’t be an easy target. However, if they are still in Europa League at the time it might be good news for Brighton, with the added exhaustion of playing on Thursday evenings possibly causing some damage to their form. Duffy and Dunk will need to be on their day though, to slow down the Lacazette-Aubameyang connection.
In the last matchday, 12th of May, Brighton will have probably the toughest job, comparing with the other teams still facing the possibility of relegation. In the Falmer Stadium the squad will receive the title contenders Manchester City, who may or may not depend on this game to win the title. If they do depend on it to edge Liverpool on the title race and we still depend on this game to avoid dropping to Championship, do not expect miracles.
However, Hughton can be proud of what his boys did on the game at Wembley, in the FA Cup semifinal, this weekend, when they lost just 1-0 to City, but showed a great heart and desire. So, if they do show that same spirit in the last match of the season who knows what the outcome might be?
Meanwhile, at the same day, at the same time, Newcastle will face the already relegated Fulham, while Southampton will play the also ‘out of the race’ Huddersfield. Easier challenges for Albion’s direct rivals, but not so much for the frightened Cardiff who will have to battle against Manchester United, who will probably be holding to this game for getting into Champions League football next season.
After a very irregular season, that saw the team getting into the FA Cup final four, but at the same time losing too much points against opposition within our reach, it will be a very complicated road until the end. To start the race on the right track, Brighton should already catch 3 points when they take Bournemouth at home on the 13th of April. The Cherries are in a slightly more comfortable position, with 38 points, holding on to the 13th position, even though they haven’t secured mathematically their own safety yet. A victory on Sunday will be a great head start to the dangerous month ahead. Buckle up Seagulls!
Featured image by James Boyes