Brighton will look to confirm their first-ever top-half finish in the Premier League as they face sixth-place chasing West Ham United.
There are only two games in the entire Matchday 38 which do not have anything to play for. Such is the pressure in the Premier League as Brighton host West Ham United, with both sides seeking to achieve targets on the final day of the season.
Brighton have been impressive under Graham Potter this season, and despite some sections of the fans aiming criticism at the manager, the general consensus is a happy one. The Seagulls are one step away from confirming their first-ever top-half finish in the Premier League, but they have to secure a victory against the Hammers.
The final position in the table will also depend upon the results of Wolves and Leicester City in their respective games. Potter will be confident of his side’s chances after some impressive performance during the business end of the season. They could have secured three points against Leeds United last time out, but a Pascal Struijk equaliser forced a draw.
The visiting team will have more at stake than the hosts, as West Ham United chase a sixth-place finish to close their season. They currently have seventh-placed wrapped up, which only gets the team into next season’s Europa Conference League, which may not be deemed good enough.
Manchester United currently occupy the sixth place and sit two points ahead of the Hammers. A combination of Crystal Palace winning against the Red Devils and the Hammers defeating Brighton would ensure a sixth-place finish for David Moyes’ side, earning them an entry into next season’s Europa League.
The Hammers come into this clash at the back of an impressive display against Manchester City. They will be slightly disappointed after surrendering a two-goal lead, although Lukasz Fabianski deserves credit for saving a penalty from Riyad Mahrez late in the clash. They will be optimistic about their chances against Brighton, as the game promises total entertainment on the final day of the domestic league.
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Graham Potter is set to be boosted by the return of Enock Mwepu but he may not be starting against West Ham United. Jakub Moder remains unavailable and will accompany Jeremy Sarmiento on the sidelines. The manager does not have many problems to deal with and will name his strongest eleven against the Hammers.
Potter will not disturb the recent selection decision, meaning he is likely to involve the same set of players against the Hammers. It could see Tariq Lamptey once more on the bench, alongside Adam Lallana. The former hasn’t started a game in over a month, while the latter waits for his first eleven appearances since February.
There will be a back three of Marc Cucurella, Lewis Dunk and Joel Veltman. Sonny March will keep his spot at right wing-back, with Leandro Trossard likely to play a similar, but hybrid role on the other flank. Potter will focus on the central areas with two central midfielders and a duo of attacking midfielders in a compact space.
Danny Welbeck will lead the line for the Seagulls, with the likes of Pascal Gross and Alexis Mac Allister lining up behind him.
Probable Lineup (3-4-2-1): Sanchez; Veltman, Dunk, Cucurella; March, Bissouma, Caicedo, Trossard; Mac Allister, Gross; Welbeck
West Ham United
Moyes is unlikely to make any changes to the team that drew against Manchester City, although the manager has more options for the trip to Brighton. Said Benrahma is fit and available again after missing the last league match.
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The attacker may not start as one of Pablo Fornals, or Manuel Lanzini will occupy his position on the pitch. Meanwhile, Moyes has no relief with central defensive injuries, as Issa Diop is out of contention for the last game of the season. It could lead to Moyes fielding Kurt Zouma and Craig Dawson as his central defensive pairing, with Vladimir Coufal and Aaron Cresswell on either flank.
Mark Noble will play his final and 550th career game, although he will likely remain on the bench. The veteran midfielder is expected to replace Declan Rice or Tomas Soucek as a substitute during the match.
Lanzini will likely start in the No. 10 role, with Jarrod Bowen and Fornals on either side of the Argentine. Michail Antonio will lead the line, as Moyes operates with a thin squad and without a viable deputy for the Jamaican.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Fabianski; Coufal, Dawson, Zouma, Cresswell; Soucek, Rice; Bowen, Lanzini, Fornals; Antonio
- Brighton have drawn their last six matches against West Ham United in all competitions.
- Brighton have never finished in the top half of the Premier League.
- Brighton have only one victory in their last nine home games in the Premier League.
- West Ham United have lost four of their last five away games in the Premier League.
- West Ham United will qualify for the Europa League with a win, and Manchester United dropping points, as they have a superior goal difference.
Player to Watch
Bowen is West Ham’s best player of the season by a mile. There are other contenders, such as Declan Rice, but the attacker continues to improve with each passing game. His brace against Manchester City showed the player’s big game mentality and cemented his stature as the most lethal attacker in the side.
He will have to step up one last time this season, as a top-notch performance will help push the Hammers into the Europa League. Bowen will come up against Marc Cucurella, who has been one of Brighton’s best players, and their battle will be the one to look at on Sunday.
Brighton 1-1 West Ham United
Unfortunately for West Ham, there may not be Europa League football next season, as a win over Brighton may be tough to achieve. The Hammers and the Seagulls have drawn their last six games, and the result at the Amex might be no different.
Both sides come into the clash in good form and have proved how difficult a prospect is to break down their respective defences. Brighton and West Ham have the backline and attacking set-up to hurt most teams, and on Sunday, they will likely end the game in a 1-1 draw.