Brighton & Hove Albion play their penultimate home game of the season against Newcastle United on Saturday, kick-off 5.30pm — the first of three crucial matches for the Seagulls in their battle to avoid relegation from the Premier League.
Cardiff City will have finished their match at Fulham by the time Albion and the Magpies take to the field at the Amex Stadium, which means Chris Hughton’s side could find themselves level on points with the Bluebirds.
Albion were just minutes away from securing a precious point at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Tuesday evening, but Christian Eriksen’s 88th-minute goal snatched maximum points for Spurs in north London.
Newcastle head to the Amex on the back of consecutive victories over Leicester City and Southampton, which secured their Premier League status for another season.
The match will be shown live on BT Sport, with the pre-match coverage getting underway at 5pm.
Hughton confirmed that Davy Propper will miss Saturday's match due to a hamstring injury, but Anthony Knockaert returns from his three-match suspension and could be included in Albion's 18-man squad that takes on the Magpies.
Miguel Almiron suffered a hamstring injury in Newcastle’s win against Southampton and will remain sidelined for the remainder of the season.
Fabian Schar and Isaac Hayden are slight doubts for the Magpies, while Florian Lejeune and Sean Longstaff will both miss this weekend’s game at the Amex.
After taking a point from a hard-fought 0-0 draw against Wolverhampton Wanderers last Saturday, the Seagulls came agonisingly close to repeating the feat against Spurs on Tuesday night.
Albion have proven themselves hard to beat in recent away fixtures, but three consecutive defeats at the Amex have increased the need for a positive result on the south coast.
The Magpies lost their opening two matches in April against Arsenal and Crystal Palace respectively, but back-to-back wins over Leicester and Southampton have made amends.
Newcastle have won just three away matches in the Premier League this season — 15 teams have won more on the road than Benitez’s team.
LAST TIME WE MET
Albion’s 1-0 victory at St James’ Park back in October came in the middle of three consecutive victories for the Seagulls, all by the same narrow scoreline.
However, there was drama after just 15 minutes of the match when Glenn Murray clashed heads with Federico Fernandez, which saw the Albion frontman leave the field on a stretcher.
The deadlock was broken just before the half-hour mark when Jose Izquierdo fired towards goal from the edge of the penalty area, and the ball deflected off Beram Kayal for the Israeli’s first Premier League goal.
The hosts pushed for an equaliser but couldn’t break down Albion’s stubborn defence, as they claimed their first away clean sheet of the season.
LAST TIME OUT: ALBION
Albion line-up: Ryan; Montoya, Duffy, Dunk, Bernardo; Stephens, Bissouma (Kayal 86), Gross; Jahanbakhsh (March 73), Andone (Murray 64), Locadia.
Subs not used: Button (GK), Bong, Balogun, Burn.
LAST TIME OUT: NEWCASTLE
Perez 27, 31, 86
Newcastle line-up: Dubravka; Schar (Fernandez 69), Lascelles, Dummett; Manquillo, Ki, Hayden (Diame 78), Ritchie; Perez, Rondon, Almiron (Atsu 64).
Subs not used: Darlow (GK), Yedlin, Shelvey, Muto.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Ayoze Perez
The forward has hit double figures (10) in the Premier League for the first time in his Newcastle career, most recently firing a hat-trick against Southampton at St James’ Park.
The 25-year-old has featured in 34 of Newcastle’s 35 league games so far this season, proving to be an integral part of Benitez’s side that secure their top-flight status with three games to spare.
Perez also scored the winning goal in their 1-0 win at the King Power Stadium earlier this month, which came after having involvement in all three of Newcastle’s goals in their 3-2 win against Everton.