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Match Previews

PREVIEW: STOKE CITY V ALBION

8 February 2018

Kieran Cleeves
Albion play Stoke City at the bet365 Stadium on Saturday.

Brighton & Hove Albion head to the bet365 Stadium on Saturday afternoon to play Stoke City in the Premier League, kick-off 3pm.

The Seagulls have taken four points from their previous two fixtures, and come up against the Potters in a crucial match towards the bottom of the Premier League table.

Paul Lambert’s team occupy the final relegation spot and sit three points behind Chris Hughton’s side, who are placed 13th after 26 matches.

Albion can move six points clear of the Staffordshire side with victory at the bet365 Stadium, before returning to the Amex to play Swansea City in their following league fixture.


TEAM NEWS: Chris Hughton explained that Steve Sidwell (back and ankle) and Jiri Skalak (ankle) remain the only two absentees through injury.

Jurgen Locadia will be included in the squad for the first time, following his arrival from PSV Eindhoven in January.

For Stoke, Jese Rodriguez will return to the squad for the first time in two months, defender Bruno Martins Indi has trained all week following a knock so could come back into contention.




REVERSE FIXTURE: The sides shared a 2-2 draw at the Amex in November, as the Seagulls twice came from behind to secure a share of the spoils on the south coast.

Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting put the Potters in front after 28 minutes, but Pascal Gross levelled for Albion shortly before the half-time break, firing home from Davy Propper’s low cross.

Kurt Zouma made sure that Stoke went in ahead at the break, heading home on the stroke of half-time - before Jose Izquierdo restored parity to the scoreline in the second half to make it 2-2.


FORM:

ALBION: Hughton’s men are unbeaten in three matches in all competitions - following a 1-0 victory over Middlesbrough in the Emirates FA Cup, before taking four Premier League points in the space of four days.

Glenn Murray’s penalty against Southampton was cancelled out at St Mary’s Stadium to make it 1-1, before the Seagulls recorded an impressive 3-1 victory over West Ham United at the Amex.

Murray got the ball rolling with the opening goal against the Hammers, Izquierdo added a stunning second and Gross rounded off the scoring in the closing stages.


STOKE CITY: Despite Xherdan Shaqiri giving the Potters a 1-0 lead against AFC Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium, the Cherries hit back with two late goals to snatch the points on the south coast.

Paul Lambert claimed his first victory as manager against Huddersfield Town in January, as the Staffordshire club won 2-0 at the bet365 Stadium - which was then followed by a goalless draw against Watford.

January started with three consecutive defeats against Newcastle United at home, Coventry City in the FA Cup and Manchester United at Old Trafford.

LAST TIME OUT: ALBION

ALBION 3
Murray 8
Izquierdo 59
Gross 75

WEST HAM UNITED 1
Hernandez 30

Albion line-up: Ryan; Schelotto, Duffy, Dunk, Bong; Knockaert (March 77), Stephens, Propper, Izquierdo; Gross (Kayal 83); Murray (Ulloa 72).

Subs not used: Krul (GK), Goldson, Bruno, Baldock.



LAST TIME OUT: STOKE CITY

AFC BOURNEMOUTH 2
King 70
Mousset 79

STOKE CITY 1
Shaqiri 5

Stoke City line-up: Butland; Bauer, Shawcross, Zouma, Pieters; Allen, Cameron, Badou Ndiaye (Stafylidis 71); Shaqiri, Choupo-Moting (Diouf 83), Crouch (Berahino 83).

Subs not used: Grant (GK), Sobhi, Johnson, Adam.



PLAYER TO WATCH: Xherdan Shaqiri

Signed from Inter Milan in the summer of 2015 for a club-record fee on a five-year deal, the Swiss midfielder has 12 goals in 72 Premier League appearances for the side since making the switch to England – including five so far this term.

Prior to his time at the San Siro, Shaqiri plied his trade with Bayern Munich for two-and-a-half years, scoring 11 goals in 26 league appearances for the German side, winning eight domestic and international honours.

His homeland team FC Basel were the first club he played for - he won three Swiss league titles with his first professional side and was twice named the division’s player of the year in both the 2010/11 and 2011/12 campaigns.

He has claimed 11 trophies during his career overall, the most notable including three Bundesliga titles and a Champions League winner's medal.


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