An intriguing clash on the South Coast welcomes us back to Premier League football after a fortnight’s break, with Chris Hughton’s Seagulls facing a Leicester City side that has gone three games unbeaten but will wish it had taken more points from home games against West Ham and Burnley. Leicester are, of course, still hurting from the tragic accident that claimed the lives of five people including club owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, with goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel particularly affected.
Brighton lost last time out on a visit to Cardiff, which saw midfielder Dale Stephens sent off for a reckless challenge; he’ll be suspended for this weekend. Leicester do not expect to have England internationals Harry Maguire and James Maddison back – the pair missed their country’s games against the USA and Croatia meaning Jonny Evans and Rachid Ghezzal are likely to continue to deputise here. With both clubs in mid-table, a win here will be highly-prized, but hard to come by.
Brighton vs Leicester Prediction: Brighton 1-1 Leicester
Leicester didn’t draw a single one of their first nine games, winning four and drawing five. In the last three outings, though, they have drawn twice and eked out a very emotional 1-0 win at Cardiff. At the moment, it feels like they’re struggling to get things over the line, and the AMEX isn’t the ideal place to remedy that. The Seagulls rarely lose on home soil, and sides like Arsenal and Manchester United have left empty-handed in 2018. Still, the absence of Stephens and injured winger Pascal Gross won’t help the hosts, and this game has the feel of a tightly-contested draw.
Our recommended tip: Demarai Gray FGS
In the absence of Maddison, a lot of expectation will fall on the shoulders of Gray to provide Leicester’s X-factor. The tricky winger has developed well at the King Power and has added more of an end product to his game this year, making and scoring goals on a more regular basis. He’s 9/1 (10.00) with 888sport to score first here, and with Jamie Vardy in a relative dry spell might well be the one to break the deadlock here. With Brighton likely to defend deep, there’s every chance it will take a moment of individual brilliance to break them down, and Gray is equipped to deliver that.
Having said that Brighton are hard to beat on home soil, it’s worth noting that Leicester are one of the select band of sides who’ve managed it this year, heading back to the Midlands with three points when the sides met in March. They did it the hard way, with the key action all happening in the last fifteen minutes.
First, Glenn Murray’s penalty was saved by Schmeichel on 77, and five minutes later City were ahead through an Iborra header. On 87 minutes, Wilfried Ndidi was sent off for a second booking, but Brighton could not take advantage, and a fast break five minutes into time added on saw Vardy tap in from a Gray cross to secure a 2-0 win. The scoreline was the same when the sides met in Leicester earlier in the season, Shinji Okazaki opening the scoring in the first minute, with Maguire heading home on 54.
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Players to watch: Glenn Murray & Ben Chilwell
Murray is so fundamental to what Brighton do that one fears for the Seagulls when time finally catches up with the 35-year-old Cumbrian. The archetype of an old-fashioned centre-forward, Murray battles for every ball, usually wins, and has scored eighteen Premier League goals for the club in a season and a half. Sure, those aren’t Harry Kane numbers, but Brighton aren’t Spurs. With more energy than some players half his age, the reliable striker won’t give Leicester’s defence a moment’s rest.
Although Leicester have spent plenty of money over recent years trying to cement their place in the Premier League’s top end, one of their most valuable players is a 21-year-old left-back who came through the youth system. Chilwell has made the spot his own this season, and has impressed at international level, earning a start in England’s recent Nations League triumph over Croatia. He can get forward and deliver, and will also be trusted here to keep an eye on former Fox Anthony Knockaert. That Claude Puel will trust him to do so is testament to Chilwell’s growing maturity.