Brighton & Hove Albion will want to build on their strong start to the Premier League campaign when they play hosts to Leicester City on Sunday afternoon.

After finishing 16th last season, battling relegation and underperforming, Brighton have made a great start to the 2020/21 Premier League season, and are closer to the top-four places than the drop zone. Graham Potter’s side have collected 9 points from the opening four league games and are only four points behind table-toppers Liverpool with a game in hand.

Brighton started the season in fine form by registering successive wins over Burnley and Watford before Everton gave Brighton their only setback thus far, a 2-0 defeat at the Amex shortly before the international break. The Seagulls are coming on the back of a dramatic victory against Brentford last weekend, with Leandro Trossard scoring the game’s only goal in the dying moments of added time.

Leicester, on the other hand, have failed to build a consistent set of results so far this season, alternating wins and losses in the league. After being crowned the Community Shield winners in the curtain-raiser, the Foxes began the new season with a narrow victory against Wolves before being crushed 4-1 by West Ham in a catastrophic match that saw Ayoze Perez getting sent off.

Leicester headed into the international break with a 2-1 win against Norwich but fell to a 1-0 beating to the hands of Manchester City, dropping them to ninth in the standings after four games. Brendan Rodgers’ men also hit a snag in the midweek’s Europa League fixture, surrendering a 2-0 lead at King Power to draw 2-2 with Napoli in their first group stage encounter. They will be looking to get back to winning ways when they travel to the Amex on Sunday.

Team News & Tactics

Brighton & Hove Albion

During his pre-match media briefing, Brighton boss Graham Potter revealed that Adam Webster and Pascal Gross are both set to miss the Sunday game, although Enock Mwepu and Dan Burn are back available and are in contention to start.

Tariq Lamptey will remain sidelined, although the youngster is making steady progress in his recovery and may make his comeback at Swansea in the Carabao Cup. Potter may switch to a back-four, setting the team in a 4-2-3-1 system, but principles will remain the same, creating high-quality chances and keeping quality possession to reduce opponents’ impact on the game.

Robert Sanchez will be the last line of defence for the Seagulls, with him being protected by the four-man backline of Joel Veltman, Shane Duffy, Lewis Dunk and new-arrival Marc Cucurella. The Spaniard’s presence would provide them with added width and creativity on the left-flank during the attacking phases.

Yves Bissouma will be in charge of breaking up play and recycling possession along with the ball progression from midfield, while Adam Lallana will provide the creative impetus for the hosts. The trio of Leandro Trossard, Alexis Mac Allister and Solly March will take their places just behind the sole striker Neal Maupay.

The Frenchman was harshly chastised for his lack of end-product last year; he has already netted two goals this season so far and will be hoping to add to it this weekend.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Sanchez; Veltman, Duffy, Dunk, Cucurella; Lallana, Bissouma; Trossard, Mac Allister, March; Maupay

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Leicester City

Leicester’s injury troubles have subsided a little recently, with just Wesley Fofana and James Justin still sidelined due to long-term injuries. The Foxes will be without Ayoze Perez, who is serving his suspension after receiving the red card in the West Ham game.

Jamie Vardy, Youri Tielemans and James Maddison are all set to return to the starting eleven after being benched for Thursday’s Europa League match. Jonny Evans was hooked off at half-time with injury concern in midweek’s game, and it’s unlikely that Rodgers would risk him on Sunday.

Rodgers would continue to deploy 4-2-3-1 formation with minor personnel changes. Between the sticks would be undisputable No. 1 in Kasper Schmeichel. The pairing of Jannik Vestergaard and Caglar Soyuncu will take command of central defence and will be flanked by Ricardo Pereira and Ryan Bertrand on either side.

The midfield pivot will comprise Wilfred Ndidi and Youri Tielemans, with the former providing strong foundations by shielding the defence and active ball-recovery work while the latter looks to pave the way for smooth transitions.

Patson Daka will keep his place after impressing in midweek out-wide and join James Maddison and Harvey Barnes to form the supply chain for the prolific striker in Jamie Vardy.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Schmeichel; Pereira, Vestergaard, Soyuncu, Bertrand; Ndidi, Tielemans; Daka, Maddison, Barnes; Vardy

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Key Stats

  • Brighton came out on the losing side in their last two top-flight games at home against Leicester. They’ve never lost three consecutive home games versus the Foxes ever before.
  • Leicester have never lost a game in all of the eight Premier League meetings between these sides (W6 D2), it’s the best unbeaten record they have against a Premier League side in the competition.
  • Sitting comfortably at 6th in the league standings, bagging 9 points out of a possible 12, This is Brighton’s best-ever start to a top-flight campaign.
  • The Foxes are averaging fewer shots than any other side in the division at 7.3 per game which is a huge downgrade on their last season’s average of 12.8 per game.
  • Leicester have only kept one clean sheet in their past 10 top-flight matches (W4 D1 L5). On the road, it’s even worse failing to keep even a single clean sheet in last nine league games. 

Player to Watch

Patson Daka

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Another smart piece of business from Leicester bringing in a speedy forward in Patson Daka from RB Salzburg for a reported fee worth around £23 million. Although he has only featured for limited minutes, but it is pretty evident what he’ll offer.

He is extremely quick, agile and good at making diagonal runs between the defenders to pounce onto a through pass. He is also very intelligent, and times his runs to perfection. His acceleration over a short distance can be devastating for opposition defenders.

He is incredibly versatile and can slot in very well all across the frontline, which he showcased in the Napoli game where he was deployed on the right-wing. He can prove to be a key asset for Leicester in the coming days.

Prediction

Brighton & Hove Albion 2-2 Leicester City

Brighton & Hove Albion have been playing some good football recently and are converting their good performances into favourable results. They are brimming with confidence after their recent run of positive outcomes. Neal Maupay has started to find the back of the net of late, and Bissouma provides them with a solid base to build their attacks on. The Seagulls will be eager to take the bulls by the horns when they welcome Leicester to their fortress.

The Foxes, meanwhile, are struggling to knit consistent performances together. Also, James Maddison needs to step up his creative output if Leicester are to achieve their ambitions. Without Jonny Evans, their defence looks susceptible and lacks leadership.

Throwing into the mix, the Foxes’ are conceding a high amount of shots while taking a lot less on an average compared to last season signifies their poor form. Still, with the incisiveness of Vardy upfront, it becomes a difficult tie to call upon. Hence, The Hard Tackle predicts an entertaining 2-2 draw on Saturday night at the Amex.

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